THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Nancy Kress, Author of “Blessings”

Nancy Kress, Author of “Blessings,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

“Blessings” shows two sides of an alien invasion—an apocalypse for some, a new life for others. What elements of the story did you focus on while writing this third triptych piece?

“Blessings” follows the previous two stories in this series, carrying my “apocalypse” forward another few generations. When I started the first story, I wanted to write about a different apocalypse from the usual, so I chose this: an incident that makes everyone nicer. Less aggressive, biologically incapable of violence. That raised questions: How could such a thing come about? Who would desire it? I knew from before I began that aliens wished to remake us, and that genetic alteration of the entire world was the way they could do it.

This third story was thus free to explore how such an experiment ends. The aliens have succeeded—but only temporarily. Regression to the mean is a real, inescapable biological phenomenon (which is why children of Nobel winners don’t also win Nobels). Human beings have had millions of years in which they were biologically hierarchal and—yes—violent under the right circumstances, which vary from person to person. Violence is, unfortunately, a survival trait. It reappears, despite the Dant. And as with all human change, some gain and some lose. To me, that’s reality, and any good fiction must reflect that reality.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Will McIntosh, author of “Dancing With a Stranger in the Land of Nod”

Will McIntosh, author of “Dancing With a Stranger in the Land of Nod,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

What was your inspiration to write this story?

Over the course of the triptych, I’ve been trying to write about an apocalypse that is relatively devoid of violence, and to focus on regular people dealing with everyday interpersonal concerns made far more complex because they’re taking place before/during/after an apocalypse. So my first story explored a man who is struggling to grow up and find his vocation in life at an age when most people have sorted all that out. The second involved a guy whose wife leaves him, and he sets off to pursue his fantasy woman and show his wife how wrong she was to leave him. For this final story, I was interested in looking at two people who have an affair in the aftermath of an apocalypse. Or maybe it’s not an affair. I guess at its core it’s a story about balancing your own happiness with the happiness of your family.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Ken Liu, Author of “The Gods Have Not Died in Vain”

Ken Liu, author of “The Gods Have Not Died in Vain” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

I understand that you love researching for your stories. Can you tell us about any research you might have undertaken for this one.

One of the persistent themes in my science fiction is dealing with the social and economic challenges of artificial intelligence. Even without fully self-aware AI, increased automation threatens the employment prospects of many workers, including those in the service industry and “white-collar” office jobs that are traditionally understood as being relatively free from such threats. For this story, I did more reading about the field, especially companies like Narrative Science that are trying to use automation to perform some tasks that are usually thought of as the domain of “knowledge workers.”

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: David Wellington, Author of “Agent Neutralized”

David Wellington, Author of “Agent Neutralized,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

Which post-apocalyptic story/ies left the greatest impression on you?

I grew up obsessed with the idea of nuclear war. It might seem absurd to younger readers now but there was a time when it seemed inevitable, that we had created this thing, this world-ending machine, and that we just weren’t going to be able to stop ourselves from pressing the red button. I pored over many a tome of nuclear catastrophe as a child, like On the Beach and Alas, Babylon, and of course (as this story clearly shows) the Mad Max movies. The funny thing was back then our apocalypse fiction served to make it look like maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Sure, the crops would all fail and life would be hard, but you got to wear crazy clothes and roar around the desert in dune buggies covered in spikes and baby doll heads. There is a very strange kind of nostalgia for old armageddons, sort of the dark twin for the nostalgia we all feel now for the naïvely optimistic futures of old science fiction.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Tananarive Due, Author of “Carriers”

Tananarive Due, Author of “Carriers,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

I was very excited to see another story in this world with Nayima—how has the character changed since you first began writing her?

In the first story, Nayima was a young woman forced to come of age against the backdrop of a super plague. That story was really me processing the true end of my own childhood, with the long suffering and death of my mother. But at least Nayima had a sense of moving on to the next phase of her life. In the second story, Nayima was shattered. I believe she was forced to give up her last notions of communal humanity–she herself was toxic, and her dreams of building a village were silly and, in a way, even selfish because of her deep denial that she was a carrier. So the Nayima of “Carriers” is a hardened, solitary woman who had given up hope of a “normal” life. And she has lost her trust in everyone.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Jonathan Maberry, author of “Jingo and the Hammerman”

Jonathan Maberry, author of “Jingo and the Hammerman,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

What do you think it is about zombies that make them work as the source of an apocalypse?

Zombies are the perfect storytelling metaphor if you want to spin a tale about an extreme crisis, which makes them perfect for apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic storytelling. They represent a massive shared threat: something so big that it impacts every person, every relationship, every aspect of infrastructure, and every element of culture. Nothing escapes that impact. The zombie’s nature, threat, and potential are all easy to grasp, so once they’ve been introduced, they often fade into the background so the story can concentrate on what is most important: human people in the midst of life-changing events. People facing crises is the basis of all drama, and therefore the writer is able to tell any kind of story he or she wants. No other monster is so generous in enabling this, or in sharing the stage.

In a zombie apocalypse the crisis is so overwhelming that there is no time for us to maintain our affectations of who we pretend to be in day-to-day life. None of us are ever really ourselves – we edit ourselves depending on the situation. We are different people in public, at home alone, at work, in love, when heartbroken, and so on. Often we play roles that are vastly different from our natural selves, such as feeling ‘powerful’ because we have money, good looks, or position. In a zombie apocalypse, none of that matters. A captain of industry or a supermodel expect deference as a matter of course, but they might be the first to fall in an apocalyptic scenario. Whereas the bag-boy at the local supermarket might have tremendous but untapped leadership and survival skills. Steel is forged in the heat of a furnace, not while it is ore in the ground.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Carrie Vaughn, author of “Bannerless”

Carrie Vaughn, author of “Bannerless,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

What was the seed for “Bannerless”?

“Bannerless” is something of a prequel to an earlier story of mine, “Amaryllis,” which was nominated for a Hugo in 2011. In almost the first line of “Amaryllis,” the narrator wonders about her mother and why would have tried to go through with an unauthorized pregnancy. “Bannerless” is the answer to that question. I’ve been wanting to tackle this story for a long time, based on the premise that the answer isn’t what anyone would have expected.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Chris Avellone, on “Acts of Creation”

Chris Avellone, on “Acts of Creation,” discusses the background of his story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

You’re probably most well-known for your award winning video game design, and comic book writing. How do those mediums feed into your prose?

They have the capacity to help and hurt the writing process. As an example, when doing video game design, you can explore almost every permutation of a character you feel find interesting to delve into – with standard prose and comics, you need to make the best choice you can, and when you’ve trained yourself to do equal branching, it can be hard to “trim” those branches and focus the best arc for the piece.

Comic books have also been a bit different in a (helpful) way – they’ve trained me to think visually to tell the stories, which is an important skill in game design. Storyboarding, camera angles and how they can communicate the power and emotion in a scene, dialogue brevity, and layout of pages and panels to emphasize action, contemplation, and building tension have all proven useful.

What I like about Obsidian and inXile is that a number of the designers eagerly explore variations of prose, not just game writing – Carrie Patel (The Buried Life), Colin McComb (the Oathbreaker series), Nathan Long (Jane Carver of Waar), Adam Heine (his Tides of Numenera novel is excellent), and Andrew Rowe (Forging Divinity) are only a few of the folks I’ve worked with who also write prose in their off-hours, and (no humility here, it’s the truth, especially Adam), they write far better than I do. I feel like I’m stumbling a lot of the time, but hey, I like to believe I make enough mistakes and learn from them to make fewer and fewer errors as time goes on. Or not. It’s up to the reader to judge.

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THE END HAS COME Author Interview: Mira Grant, on “The Happiest Place…”

Mira Grant, author of “The Happiest Place…,” discusses the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on A Dribble of Ink:

Do you think that humanity will ever experience a worldwide catastrophic event that might create situations such as that in “The Happiest Place”? If so, what form do you think such an event would take?

I’d like to say I don’t, but honestly, I do. I think we’re going to see something nasty and novel come out of someplace we don’t expect, and it’s going to knock us on our asses. I may mutter about a return of smallpox, but that’s not going to wipe us out. Something new and unpleasant is going to get that honor.

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INTERVIEW: Ask Me Anything Interview on Reddit re: the Apocalypse & Humble Bundle

Along with Hugh Howey and Nancy Kress, I participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) interview about the apocalypse (and Humble Bundle) over on Reddit. [interview]

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