THE END IS NOW Author Interview: Annie Bellet

Even without the meteor strikes, the moon is enough of a presence in the night sky that its loss would certainly be felt around the world, both culturally and in terms of immediate survival.  What research did you do to prepare for writing “Goodnight Stars”?

I watched a documentary by Martyn Ives called “If We Had No Moon,” which is narrated by Patrick Stewart.  That got me started thinking about the possibilities and ramifications of the moon exploding.  I also really liked the concept of a proto-ring around the Earth and what that would be like, so I read up on planets with rings as well.  From there I read about ecological disasters, weather changes, various meteor strikes in history, and other stuff like that. I like my fiction to have some foundation in facts, but not to be controlled by them. It’s fiction, after all.

You explore such concepts as racism, sexism, PTSD, and the fears born of catastrophe, particularly in the scene with Overalls and his companions.  Some readers might not care to be reminded of such issues, but many readers and writers feel that such realism can only serve to enhance the story.  What are your thoughts on including such topics in your writing?

Again, it’s fiction, but I’m still writing about people dealing with things and to have any kind of resonance with a story, I think you need elements from reality, especially with a story set in a perhaps not too distant future.  Humans are humans and have been for thousands of years. You can see our various themes of love, loss, despair, hope, and the like throughout the history of literature.  Bad times seem to bring out both the best and the worst in humanity and I wanted to have my characters deal with that, because that’s the core of any story, people being people.

Lucy is wonderfully realized on the page.  Many writers tap dance around allowing strong female characters to show moments of perceived weakness, yet you embrace Lucy’s humanity in her grieving for both her mother and Heidi, her shock after shooting a man, and the emotional fugue of the world falling apart around her.  How conscious were you of presenting Lucy as a person instead of as a generic “strong female character”?

I don’t see weakness in grief, or in being upset over taking a person’s life, I guess. My personal definition of strong is someone who doesn’t let circumstances break them, who doesn’t retreat from life but faces it and figures out how to go forward. That’s what I wanted for Lucy.  I don’t know if I consciously think “I’m going to write a realistic person today” anymore.  It’s more I try to do my best to portray characters as real as I can get them, which means not shying away from any aspects of their character that will serve the story.

What would be your priorities if you found yourself in the midst of the crisis of “Goodnight Stars”?

Don’t get hit by a meteor? *grin* Okay, more seriously, I’d try to get myself, my husband, and my emergency food supplies (what I very jokingly call my cats) to my friend’s farm where there is a well, a place to grow food, not too many people around, and plenty of supplies.  I think people in the country would fare better in circumstances like this potentially, depending on how badly infrastructure was messed up. The higher the population density, the more potential you’ll run into the people who turn bad when life goes wrong.  I’d want to wait out the initial chaos somewhere with water, land, firewood, and friends, personally.

You skip back and forth between long and short fiction, playing with the concept of story in a variety of forms.  Do you have a genre or storyline you’ve yet to explore?

I haven’t finished writing a literary novel yet. I’ve been dabbling with two different ones for a few years now, but there’s so many other things I need to write that might actually have a readership I just haven’t gotten around to finishing them.  I also have a couple of ideas for huge, million+ word epic fantasy series that I want to try and have been studying writers like Steven Erikson, Karen Miller, and Joe Abercrombie to see how they structure series with such thick books.  Hopefully in a few years I’ll have the freedom to actually attempt a giant epic with 250k word novels and the like.