We're talking about my story "A Fear of Falling Under" recently released in Issue 27 of The Future Fire.
Come on PT, wake up. You need to be asking the questions, or it'll be like I'm only talking to myself here.
PT: This story better not be as creepy as the last one we talked about.
PT: Oh come on! I'm a sensitive type!
AF: OK, I'm not super horror writer creepy, but the story has been described as "hallucinatory" and "haunting".
PT: OK, so what is the story about?
AF: That's part of the reading - you have to decide for yourself. Our character wakes up alone on a space station. The how, why, and what they're going to do about it is all up to you. Is it for real, and they're dealing with a bump on the head? Is it a murder mystery? Did they get left behind? Did the rest of the crew escape intact? Or are they hallucinating the whole thing?
PT: The character sounds like they're having a bit of fun with the whole experience, once they get over the whole "left behind" thing.
AF: I play a lot with the idea of "what would you do if you world was suddenly empty". Possibly there's a big influence from Geoff Murphy's "The Quiet Earth" (that movie had a huge impact - I was 11 when it came out), possibly there's that very kiwi dystopian ideal because we're so cut off from the rest of the world.
Since I've been writing SF, I've bounced around the idea of "what would happen if you were abandoned on a space station/ship?" Of course, the first question is "what happened to the rest of the crew?" I originally wrote this story a lot more sinister, but after feedback and a few rewrites, I discovered I didn't like the stereotypes of mental health and violence I'd fallen into. So, in an effort to circumvent these stereotypes, I made the character have a bit more fun, and deal with their fear in different ways.
PT: The character takes a while to realize they're a woman. Was that intentional?
AF: I didn't start out writing in body dysphoria, but it made an interesting cross section with the character's excitement at being alone and free to do as they choose - it fits with a lot of the issues I write about with regard to gender.
Often I start writing a story, and realize I haven't put in a physical description. It must be some inbuilt "screwing with gender" mode I have. Here it fitted the story well - the character obviously doesn't like looking in the mirror. Metaphor? Hell yeah.
PT: This is the second story you've had published at The Future Fire, and also to be turned into artwork specific to the story. What do you think of the artwork?
AF: I am so much in love with the art by Robin E. Kaplan! I've waxed rapturous all over the place, to anyone who will listen. It's a huge thrill to have someone distill the story down and get the colour and imagery so perfect. They even made the portrait of the main character reasonably androgynous, which I was really pleased with. It shows they've read the story and really gets it.
PT: Who, or what, is ELE?
AF: Obviously it's the acronym for the exploratory tech the station is set up to operate and monitor, but it morphs into something different for our character. It becomes a name, a character, a voice, in their own right.
PT: "ELE". "SaganDrop Station". I'm sensing a pattern here.
AF: It's absolutely a nod to one of my favourite books of all time, and one of my heroes. I miss him, his calm influence, so much. It's hard not to be influenced by the poetry of Carl Sagan...
PT: He was a scientist Jim, not a poet!
AF: Have you ever seen the original "Cosmos" television series? I beg to differ.
PT: So, "Contact" then. Book or movie?
AF: Book, absolutely. There are very few books in my life I have not been able to put down - I read it the first time all in one sitting until 2am. The movie played with the religious and romantic aspect more than I would have liked, but it was reasonably rigorous to the story and, well, Jodie Foster.
PT: I guess this means you're interested in the re-visioning of Cosmos by Neil deGrasse Tyson?
AF: Unreasonably excited. I've always wondered what Uncle Carl would have been able to do with CGI and modern special effects, and all the changes in the way we look at an approach our universe in the last 30 years.
AF: OK you. You got a 3-for-1 deal on that last question. Back into the cage now.
PT: Mmmm pretty pretty space special effects...raging brainer right now...
AF: Umm, ew?
PT: Hey, sapiosexual is totally a thing!
Video: Trailer for the 2014 re-imagining of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey"