Issue 038 Author Interview: T.D. Walker and “Into Nothingness”

Welcome to our Tuesday interview with an author of the current issue of LSQ! Today we chat with author T.D. Walker about her short story “Into Nothingness“.

LSQ: You use a lot of repetition in the syntax of this story. Since you’re also a poet, I wondered if this was intentional, accidentally influenced by poetry, or a combination of both. Do you find that poetry and prose play off each other in your writing?

TD: The repetition is intentional, and it’s there for a few reasons. First, since the story is set on New Year’s Eve, I tried to evoke through the language a sense of music, the kind you might hear at such an event. Second, there’s the repetition we experience on New Year’s Eve, remembering the past year as well as engaging in the traditions of the evening, like the countdown, singing Auld Lang Syne, and perhaps a kiss. But on a deeper level, I wanted to show the characters ruminating, going over and over in their minds what the past year brought them. They’re spending their evening repeating their mistakes of the past years, and that, to me, is what made them interesting to write about.

LSQ: Fitting multiple characters’ perspectives in a short story is no simple feat, but you’ve given us a good look at everyone’s thoughts and feelings. Do you have any tips for successfully juggling perspectives?

TD: I think this goes back to being a poet. A poem is delivered to the reader through the voice of a character, the speaker created by the poet. One of the challenges of writing speculative poems that I especially appreciate is that I have to write with economy to create a character who is fully-formed enough to bring the reader into the world of the poem for the duration of the piece. So I’m constantly asking myself as I write, “Is this detail telling enough? Does this detail carry enough weight to drive the poem forward?” It’s the same for this story, which I originally envisioned as a series of four flash pieces.

LSQ: Everybody seems pretty casual about aliens in the year 2038-going-on-2039. How do you think you would react in their shoes?

TD: Well, at this point in their world, few people know about the aliens, so it’s rumor for just about everyone else. This is part of the reason why I added the “Tim” section–he’s heard about the aliens and Mia’s new body, but doesn’t believe it. I’d think most people would be in this state, that it’s too much to believe. Even if news of the aliens and the new bodies did become widespread, would that really change the ways we live our lives? Wouldn’t we make the same mistakes as we’d made before?

To answer your question more directly, I don’t know how I’d react. I’m a skeptic, so if this were just a rumor, I’d be likely to dismiss it. But if, say, the news were announced that a mining company happened to encounter alien technology, and that company were to be the only entity controlling access to it, I think I’d be in line with the other protesters voicing a need for more transparency around such a discovery.

LSQ: Are you working on anything else at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about your other projects?

TD: Too many projects! I’m working on a chapbook-length manuscript of poems that explore the voices of people aboard a generation ship. I’m also writing a novella–still!–that follows Alice from my previous story in Luna Station Quarterly, “All the Songs the Little Birds Sing.” When I started it years ago, it felt far-fetched, but the kinds of restrictions on women’s choices that drive the story are falling into place in too many states here in the US. So even though it’s been the single most difficult thing I’ve written (and rewritten), it feels urgent and necessary. Then there’s the novel about adoption and AI that I have outlined and partially drafted that I’ll come back to after I finally finish the novella. And I’m discovering after the publication of my first full-length poetry collection in May that book marketing could easily fill up all my writing time if I let it. But it’s a wonderful problem to have, so no complaints, if course.