Amelia Gray On Nightmares, Religion, and Marcus Aurelius

Mar 22, 2016

Credit Amelia Gray

It’s always a treat to talk with Amelia Gray. Her imagination, wit, and insight ensure any conversation will shine. And, like her stories, humor and darkness weave through all her words.

Gray came to the KUT studios while visiting Austin from her home in Los Angeles. We chatted craft, risk, and the joys of writing. We talk about her writing routine and how she mines her own fears and desire to inspire her fiction. We also trace her career and how she sees herself in the current literary scene.


I’ve long been a fan of the beautifully dark and bitingly funny fiction of Amelia Gray. Her short story collections AM/PM, Museum of the Weird, and most recently Gutshot, rank among my favorite books to pick up for a quick, smiling nightmare.

Her novel Threats digs deeply into grief and melancholy, so deeply that the pages seem soaked in an unstable sadness, a madness that runs through the characters, the setting, and the prose itself. As NPR described it, “Amelia Gray's psychological thriller takes us to the brink between reality and delusion."

The dream logic and expansive bizarreness of Amelia Gray’s fiction can have a reader gasp and laugh in the same shudder. Compassion and outlandish cruelty hold hands, and it’s the combination of these opposing elements that make Gray’s work such a delight to read. We squirm, we laugh, we turn the page.

Like Kelly Link and Manuel Gonzales, Gray is part of a modern tradition that seeks to re-mystify the world. The inexplicable becomes the norm. But her writing is in no way escapism. Magic and monsters can appear, but more frightening still are the grounded-in-reality lovers and mothers.

Gray has also been compared to David Lynch and even body-horror filmmaker David Cronenberg. She dips into horror, but it’s a stranger, more nerve-tickling horror than you’d expect from the establishment of the genre.

Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, VICE, and The Wall Street Journal. To read Gray is to risk. She takes readers to dark, honest places. And like a nightmare, we may dispute the logic, but the emotion and terror are inescapable.