Aftermath: Tales of Survival in Aotearoa New Zealand is SpecFicNZ’s new anthology, available here.
The anthology explores Aotearoa in a post-apocalyptic world. Disasters have occurred around the country and the world. New Zealand, in our isolation down under, may have escaped most of what happened around the world, but it was pretty bad out there. As Kiwis are apt to do, though, we’re “getting over it”. You know, she’ll be right …
This is not just an anthology of disaster stories. The pages are filled with hope in the form of short stories, poems, flash fiction and artwork about what comes afterwards. The contributions are exclusively from SpecFicNZ members and reflect the diversity and breadth of this country we love to call home … even if the edges are a bit torn and tattered.
We’re interviewing all the contributors to the anthology so you can get to know the brave souls who’ve battled zombies, aliens, earthquakes, volcanoes and more to bring you the stories you’ll find between its covers.
Today, we’re chatting with Immi Paterson
Aftermath includes a variety of disasters set all around Aotearoa New Zealand. What disaster / location combination did you write about and why?
Although the disaster featured in my poem isn’t explicitly mentioned, I hope it’s pretty clear to most readers that it’s something like a zombie apocalypse. There are deadly (biting) creatures hellbent on finding the survivors, even if that means traversing the ocean floor to reach them. I chose to set my poem on the Bounty Islands because of their bleak isolation. Bounty Islands (or Moutere Hauriri in Maori: “island of angry wind”) are a tiny group of subantarctic rocks, 670km southeast of the South Island. They are chock-full of seals and seabirds, and very little else. It would be a pretty hopeless place to wash up, which makes it a more interesting setting to me than a truly bountiful island.
How do you think the Kiwi approach to life after disaster is unique?
I’m not sure it is different from anyone else’s. Humans will strive to survive, no matter where they are, no matter what they have on hand. The difference is in geography. How would you approach a zombie apocalypse if you lived in Tokyo, versus the Outback, versus an intercontinental country like Liechtenstein? I think by being so isolated, New Zealand would have more time to react and prepare. We would probably close our borders and keep things under control for a while, watching in horror as the rest of the world was overrun. Having a headstart would mean that once the virus reached our communities we would have some systems in place to prevent as many deaths. Of course, in my poem, things became so dire that some people fled to the seas.
What are your most valuable post-apocalyptic skills?
I work as a Supply Chain and Planning Controller, so my most valuable skills probably involve planning and organising. If anyone would listen to me (which is questionable) I could coordinate the various jobs and try to make things run smoothly within the chaos.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Being a writer, you must have lots of pens. What creative use would you put them to in a post-apocalyptic New Zealand?
I also write music and songs. If our infrastructures were destroyed it might be difficult to distribute any kind of written word among many people. But songs can be shared. I would put my creative efforts into that.
Tell us a little about your other writing?
I’ve published a couple of novellas and a handful of short stories in the past, as well as a few (musical) albums, but in the more recent years I’ve concentrated on writing for film, and poetry. Only some of my published poems are speculative fiction like this one, but they are nearly always based on a linear narrative (though not always told in order). I guess I like to tell stories. My latest film project is a web-series turned into a movie, called Immi the Vegan. I wrote and starred in it. It’s currently viewable on Amazon Prime, which is pretty exciting for me.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a short film about covid and werewolves! It will be filmed later this year.
Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Good question… I’m hopeless at social media or self-promoting… I have a website www.ikpaterson.com that I barely ever update, and Immi the Vegan can be viewed at https://linktr.ee/ImmiTheVegan