interview by Vianne Venter

From Issue 19 (Mar 2012)

Where is home?
I live in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, but I grew up in rural Maine.

Do you write full-time?
I teach high-school English full time, specifically creative writing and journalism, and do my writing on the side.  I’d like to work out a way to be a half-time teacher, half-time writer.

What inspired this story?
Joss Whedon’s Firefly series: I started to wonder what the exodus from Earth would have been like. I was further inspired by a mix of hope and pessimism. I’m worried we’ve reached a moment in history wherein we either have to act swiftly to give up bad habits or resign ourselves to the fact we’re making our planet inhospitable to life. Pessimistically, I’m not sure we have the maturity and will to break those habits. The hope is, clever beasts that we are, we’ll figure out a way to give ourselves a second chance.

The narrative voice (that of a young girl) is very believable. How did you go about finding that voice and the emotions, reasoning and value system of a teenage girl?
Hayley’s voice came easily to me. I spend most of my workday among adolescents; my brain is constantly crawling with their voices, drama, and dreams. Hayley started as a blend of a few students and quickly took on a life of her own.

Do you think humans will ever actually colonise another world, or at least, make a serious attempt to do so?
I think we have it in us, but we have a fair amount of growing up to do first. It would take a concerted, worldwide effort to do so, and we’d need motivation everyone could get behind.  In the short term, I don’t know that we could do it out of sheer curiosity or a drive to explore, but a threat to the species might be enough to scare us all into line.

If we did launch a generation ship, would you sign up for the trip?
I’d like to think I would.  Maybe I could be ship’s poet.

Are you working on anything right now?
I have a handful of short stories bouncing around the marketplace, but my big project is a novel spawned by the “Safety Cards” story. It’s my master of fine arts thesis, and it takes Hayley and two other characters on a search for a reason to live in a world that’s winding down around them.  The first two drafts are complete, and it stands at about 107,000 words. The third draft will be finished by June. I’m also working on a short-story collection about the male relationship with love and labor.

Where can we read more of your work?
I maintain a blog at Fiction-wise, the easiest thing to find is my chapter of Overfly, a novel written in twenty-four hours by twenty-three writers including Hugo winner James Patrick Kelly and Stoker winner Benjamin Kane Ethridge. I wrote chapter two.

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Vianne Venter

Vianne Venter is a freelance writer and sub-editor for various South African publications. She served as story editor and sub for Something Wicked since its inception in 2005. She is also an artist and mother. She can communicate with inanimate objects, but only if they’re feeling chatty. In her spare time… oh, who are we kidding? What spare time?

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