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 Barbara Uini
Aftermath includes a variety of disasters set all around Aotearoa New Zealand. What disaster / location combination did you write about and why?
I chose the Hunua Ranges for the setting of my story because the dense native bush and rugged terrain offered the characters a place where they might plausibly hide out and escape detection for an extended period of time. The Ranges also offers access to rivers and waterfalls, which are not only inspiringly beautiful, but more importantly to the story, would save the characters from dying of thirst.
The disaster in the story is an alien invasion, although for the most part the aliens lurk at the story’s periphery while the main characters grapple with survival and each other. Why did I choose to feature an alien invasion? Well, such an unprecedented event offers a lot of scope for imagination, and I liked the idea of keeping the aliens quite undefined, allowing room for the reader’s imagination to do some of the heavy lifting.
How do you think the Kiwi approach to life after disaster is unique?
We are largely a people of compassion and generosity, quick to step in and lend a hand, to share resources, and to take care of the vulnerable. I like to think this is a quality that shines through in the Kiwi response to disaster.
What are your most valuable post-apocalyptic skills?
My most valuable post-apocalyptic skill is the ability to scrape together an edible meal out of whatever random ingredients are at hand. I’m also pretty handy on the piano and can play a tune or two on the clarinet, so here’s hoping that might prove useful in a post-apocalyptic world – perhaps to distract marauders? Other than that, I might have to reach deep and surprise myself.
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?
Hmm, well I wish I had many pens, but unfortunately I am very reckless with pens and lose mine all the time. If I manged to find one in a post-apocalyptic New Zealand, I would be sure to put it to good use writing historical stories about pre-apocalypse life with plenty of doodling in the margins.
Tell us a little about your other writing?
I enjoy writing short and long form fiction and dabbling sporadically in poetry. My most recently completed project is a middle grade fantasy novel set between Auckland and an alternate world. I’m particularly drawn to writing fantasy and my passion is creating fiction with settings and characters that hopefully resonate with young New Zealand readers.
What are you working on now?
I am currently completing an historical novel with threads of magical realism set in 1830s Sāmoa. I began this book as my MCW thesis, and the story has grown out of my fascination with the rich and incredible history of Sāmoa. It is really a passion project. I am writing it primarily for my own children who are of Sāmoan and New Zealand heritage, and who I hope will be inspired by my writing to dig deeper into the history and culture of their ancestors.
Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Besides writing, I also paint and illustrate. You can find out more about me and my work on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/barbarauiniart/
The link in my Instagram bio will also take you to my online portfolio, website and artist shop. 😉