Interview with Alethea Kontis and Kelli Owen about “Black Hole Sun”

20 10 2010

Tell us, in brief, what your story is about.
AK: Erica and Seth, two estranged teenage friends, reconnect after hearing the news that the world is ending.

KO: The apocalypse through the eyes of teenagers and their technology: Twitter, email, etc.

What was the inspiration/genesis of your story?
AK: In this technological age where almost everyone is connected by a global social network, kids will still be kids. Life still happens. Shit still happens. And being friends still means something.

KO: Writing a story together we wanted to take on a character each, and do something different with it. So we chose to utilize technology and teens to tell the story of the future through the tools of today.

What about the future frightens you (other than inevitable death!)?
AK: What frightens me? The demise of the space program. That the human race, so obsessed with consumerism and wealth, will neglect to seek out alternative habitable worlds until overpopulation — or a black hole wandering through the galaxy — makes it too late. The only thing worse than thinking of our selves not surviving is the thought that nothing of the human race will survive at all. We will be forgotten by the universe: Snooki, Shakespeare, and all.

KO: The future my kids will inherit. Or what will be left of our future for them to even call their future. Between war and famine, infighting and global anger, I’m not even sure that science will have the chance it deserves to really screw things up (with the likes of cloning and such).

Do you have any favorite dystopian stories or novels?
AK: My favorites are Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and (a little more loosely) Neil Gaiman’s short story “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale”. I’m also a pretty big fan of the film GATTACA.

KO: Just one? Oy… I have a long tradition of disliking A Canticle for Leibowitz (thanks to an 8th grade teacher who shall remain anonymous) so of course it’s the first thing that came to mind. Favorites would have to include the boring basics: Lord of the Flies, 1984 and just about anything by Bradbury that falls under the category of dystopian. And of course, THEY LIVE and CLOCKWORK ORANGE must be mentioned. (See? I couldn’t just pick one!)

How personal is your story? Jugs and jugs of blood, sweat, and tears?
AK: When I was around twelve, I bragged about my wonderful friends to my mother. She scoffed and told me that I would not keep those friends. I would lose touch with them, and make my real friends in college. Scared to death at the prospect, I made an enormous effort to stay in touch with those friends–letters, email, and eventually social networking helped a lot with that. There were five of us at the core: me, Casey, Margo, Josh, and Chris. I used to send tons of emails to Chris–even though he rarely had time to respond, I knew he still read them. I called them my “Messages to the Black Hole.” Seth and Erica’s story was born from this.

KO: The title and idea came from Alethea’s old emails to friends. Some of the little details were pulled from me, like the apples. A bit more bloody would be the meeting in the playground. I had a friend in high school that would call me and tell me to “meet me at the playground” whenever life needed fixing. Similarly, Alethea had a “meet me at the rocket” that was important, so using that was a nice bit of dual blood for us.

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