THE END IS NIGH Author Interview: Annie Bellet

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

My story is about blowing up the moon. Well, destroying it, anyway. And about how people deal with change and with death.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I wanted to destroy the moon with asteroids or something similar. Popular culture always worries about asteroids destroying the Earth and always talks about global extinction events, but we don’t often think about how other celestial bodies would deal with an asteroid storm or what would happen if we dodged the worst but the moon got it in the kisser. Also, the image of the moon breaking up and forming a proto-ring in the sky got stuck in my head.  That would be a pretty beautiful sky to look up into, even if what will happen to the Earth isn’t so pleasant.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Definitely. I struggled with how to tell a story about the apocalypse BEFORE the apocalypse happened. It’s not easy to know where to start a story in general, but having to tell a story where the biggest event ever takes place either at the end or well after the story was tough. Doing it in less than a novel was tough, too, there is so much more I could have explored.  It’s always that way with short stories for me.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I write about death and dying and change a lot. I’ve lost four family members and two close family friends in the last three years, so I guess death has been on my mind. In that way, the story is very personal, because I had to work though how I would feel in that situation and think about how it feels to lose people we love and how helpless we all are in the end.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I probably did too much research, but it was fun.  I researched the Very Large Array, moon topography and geology, potential designs for moon bases, deep space listening techniques, did a bunch of math on how I could destroy the moon and what it would take to have the very large object I’d need go undetected for so long.  I also researched a lot of space programs to get my cast of characters, since I wanted the cast to be pretty international.

What is the appeal—either as a writer or a reader—of stories that take place BEFORE an apocalypse?

Masochism on the part of the editor? I’m kidding. I think it is interesting to see how an apocalypse starts, to have the perspective of how the world is and an inkling of how it will drastically change.  As both a writer and a reader, there are so many ways to explore this difficult concept that I can’t wait to see what everyone else did with it.

What are some of your favorite examples of pre-apocalyptic fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

All the examples I can think of are where the apocalypse is already taking place, already beginning. I guess in some ways the Rise of the Planet of the Apes is pre-apocalyptic, because you can see where it is all going to go wrong at the end for humanity.  That’s the only example that really leaps to mind and it’s a movie.