THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Leife Shallcross, author of “Wandering Star”

Leife Shallcross, author of “Wandering Star,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

In “Wandering Star” you have created a modern day post-apocalyptic tale with absolutely no fantastic elements, and the work is all the more stunning for its apparent normalcy. What inspired this story?

This story sprang from a couple of different places. Not to get too political, but Australia’s record on its treatment of refugees has gone from bad to worse over the last few years, and some of the commentary you hear excusing our current framework comes from a place of woeful ignorance about the adversity these human beings are trying to escape. This story sprang from me trying to understand how profoundly life can change due to events beyond a person’s control (war, famine, climate change, political instability… asteroid impact). My starting point was to question how I would react in such a dire situation. But I was mostly interested in how it would be to live through that unbearable quiet before the storm, when you know change is coming but you’re still essentially living the life you’re going to have to let go of.

Following on from that, often after these kinds of cataclysmic events have passed, there aren’t necessarily formal records of what it was like to live through them, and historians are left with putting together something of a puzzle from everyday items that have been left behind. I drew inspiration for Jessie’s quilt from a nineteenth century quilt in the Australian National Gallery collection called the Rajah Quilt. It was made in 1841 by women convicts being transported from England to Tasmania (which was a hellhole back then.) The quilt was sent back to England after completion, and then vanished for 147 years before it was rediscovered and acquired by the gallery. I love the idea of the stories of all those anonymous women being stitched into that enormous quilt – stories we have an inkling of, but will really only ever be able to guess at.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Jake Kerr, author of “The Gray Sunrise”

Jake Kerr, author of “The Gray Sunrise,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

The characters are under threat because of an encroaching astronomical event. What made you select this particular trigger for your apocalypse?

This is actually the fourth story set in this world. The original was “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince,” which can be found in the Wastelands 2 anthology. John asked if I would be interested in setting my Apocalypse Triptych stories in that world, and so I wrote all three in them, all set in the same time frame and setting of an impending near extinction asteroid strike. Why did I originally choose an asteroid strike? I honestly can’t remember. My first thought was of a character and an epic event, and that was the first thing that popped into my mind!

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Elizabeth Bear, author of “Margin of Survival”

Elizabeth Bear, author of “Margin of Survival,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

How did “Margin of Survival” come about?

That’s one of those impossible questions, really, but I can at least manage to line up some of the sparks. Somewhere, some time ago, I read about the nuclear-powered, abandoned lighthouses left after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and of course I live in New England, which is known for its lighthouses—most of which are largely automated now as well. And that image of a beacon, forgotten on a beach somewhere after the end of civilization, struck me as incredibly poignant.

The story grew up around that, and some reading I’ve been doing on what Bruce Sterling refers to as “Involuntary Nature Reserves,”–places like the Chernobyl exclusion zone, where we’ve created such a toxic mess that people can’t safely live there anymore.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Jamie Ford, author of “The Uncertainty Machine”

Jamie Ford, author of “The Uncertainty Machine,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

“The Uncertainty Machine” begins with a wonderful air of self-absorption and irony that carries through the entire tale with delicious intent. Often humor of this sort is not easy to maintain throughout a story. What sort of challenges did you encounter when setting Phineas’s story to paper?

It’s a fine line between full-on, David Koresh crazy, and a perma-tanned, toupee-wearing host on QVC. I mean––you never know how much of their own bullshit they actually believe. It’s this weird balance of vanity and madness. So it was interesting to try and put myself in that headspace where ego (for a while anyway) can supersede reality.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Sarah Langan, author of “Prototype”

Sarah Langan, author of “Prototype,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

The presence of sand and the difficulties of living in a sand-clogged world have dramatically shaped the people, their personalities, and what drives them. What was the idea behind this apocalypse?

It was an asteroid called Aporia that changed air quality. I guess I had the dinosaurs in mind, but also 9-11. I worked downtown in NYC when all that went down, and went back to work soon afterward. I wore a mask and got bloody noses and breathed little pieces of building for months. It’s affected most everything I’ve written since.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Robin Wasserman, author of “The Valley of the Shadow of the Promised Land”

Robin Wasserman, author of ” the Valley of the Shadow of the Promised Land,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

The characters seem to dance around the Cain and Abel story until finally, instead of Thomas and Joseph taking the roles, Isaac decides it is his story. Were you surprised at how the story turned at the end to both fratricide and patricide, or had you planned it all along?

I actually followed a trajectory similar to the one that Isaac follows in the story, sifting through the various bible stories that deal with fathers and sons and brothers — and there are so many! — before finally realizing this was a story of Cain and Abel, at least in part. Of course, some of the fun of this story, at least I hope, comes from the fact that Isaac is so confused and mistaken about what’s happening around him, and the question of whether he’s interpreting everything wrong, or whether his senility allows him to see things more clearly than everyone else. He thinks he’s playing out Cain and Abel, but actually the emotional thrust of the story–again, I hope–comes from his manipulation of his sons, his over-reliance on the Isaac/Jacob/Esau narrative, and the ways his projection of these tropes blinds him to who his sons really are. (The unreliability of Isaac’s narration is also what we have to thank for the lack of women in this story–he registers their existence but, as could be said for the Bible as well, sees them less as historical actors than as incubators or succubi.)

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Seanan McGuire, author of “Resistance”

Seanan McGuire, author of “Resistance,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

As the story went on, I found my feelings shifting back and forth regarding Megan Riley. Sometimes I was angry at Colonel Handleman for blaming her for having OCD, and sometimes I found myself thinking, ‘yes, she really is at fault for the way certain things worked out.’ How do you feel about Dr. Riley and her culpability in the end of the world?

I have OCD. And throughout my life, there have been things that have gone terribly wrong because I couldn’t cope with something at the beginning of the process, and so people hid it from me, or I hid it from myself. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy sometimes, that my issues will get in the way. I wanted to explore that experience in fiction. As for Dr. Riley … I don’t think the end of the world was her fault. I think it was the fault of people who tried to protect her when they shouldn’t have done so.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Ben H. Winters, author of “Heaven Come Down”

Ben H. Winters, author of “Heaven Come Down,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

Robert intrigues me. Was his survival an attempt to mollify Pea regarding the loss of her world (an attempt that would later be repeated with her reanimated parents)? Or did he survive because of his expressed unhappiness with the voice of God and what it did to his people? Did that disapproval lead to disobedience, and would that make him a loose end that God needed Pea to tie up?

Probably, from the POV of “God,” of the voices that sort of run the show in this tale, Robert survived as long as he did to help maneuver Pea into the right emotional and logistical space she needed to be in when the end came. Of course there is always a question, when we’re talking about omnipotent or quasi-omnipotent beings, of why they chose Robert to be the vessel, but after all Pea is a kid, a sweet lonely kid just becoming a fully developed human, for whom a friend is a powerful force.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Hugh Howey, author of “In the Woods”

Hugh Howey, author of “In the Woods,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

“In the Woods” opens with a sense of mystery and confusion, almost a rebirth for the main character April. What inspired such a tense opening?

It’s a nod to the beginning of the second novel in the Wool trilogy. Here we have a survivor from the old world entering a new and much darker one. To me, that’s what apocalyptic fiction is all about: What would it feel like to be dropped into a hostile place where survival from day to day was a real ordeal?

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Megan Arkenberg, Author of “Like All Beautiful Places”

Megan Arkenberg, Author of “Like All Beautiful Places,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

Tell us about your story, “Like All Beautiful Places”.

“Like All Beautiful Places” follows the environmental catastrophes that began in “Houses Without Air” and “Twilight of the Music Machines.” After earthquakes and toxic rain devastate San Francisco, a small group of survivors attempts to reconstruct the city in an immersive alternate reality. Grecia, the narrator, struggles with her role in the project—and, more broadly, with her place in the world, now that she’s freed from the consequences of a series of disastrous personal decisions.

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