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 Erica Challis.
Aftermath includes a variety of disasters set all around Aotearoa New Zealand. What disaster / location combination did you write about and why?
I wrote about plastic choking our environment, especially in the Great Pacific Gyre, and a pair of scientists whose attempts to solve the problem come into conflict with corporate greed.
How do you think the Kiwi approach to life after disaster is unique?
We all like to think that our approach to disaster is unique, but there is a commonality in the way people all over the world band together to confront disasters. A beautiful essay I read in the past few years talked about how Covid destroyed our notion that we are an economy first, a society second. In the past few years New Zealand’s shown an ability to recognise that and put people first.
What are your most valuable post-apocalyptic skills?
Gardening. But I’m under no illusions about what hard and constant work it would be to grow enough to support myself, let alone trade for what I haven’t got.
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?
They tell you never to put things in your ears. But come on, who hasn’t stuck a pen or pencil in their ear and swivelled it around to get at what’s inside? That’s about all a pen’s good for, once the ink’s run out. Oh, and stabbing people. They never see that coming.
Tell us a little about your other writing?
I’ve written and presented scripts for Radio New Zealand Concert, and I write programme notes for orchestral concerts. When I was an editor of TheOneRing.net, I wrote articles about Tolkien and fantasy which were eventually collected into a couple of books, along with articles by other TOR.n writers. A couple of years ago a bunch of writers who met through the Star Wars fandom collaborated to put out a Patreon-funded online zine, Lemon&Lime, for a year or so.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on some short stories, mostly science fiction, and occasionally flinging a couple of big romantic space drama novels at agencies and publishers. No nibbles yet. Apparently the appetite for Space Downton Abbey is smaller than I thought.
Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Until I can figure out how to build a website, you’d be out of luck there.