Have you been loving the wealth of Issue 046 author interviews these past few months? We certainly have! Here’s another to add to the collection; today we’re talking with Hesper Leveret about her story “We Who Are Left On This Dying Earth“.
LSQ: You mention that Cyrus and Jolene are unlikely flatmates for a different time, though the great equalizer is climate change and their inability to leave the earth. As soft spoken and introspective as they both are, do you think they would have been at least acquaintances under different circumstances?
Hesper: No – they’re very much from different backgrounds and generations, so it’s unlikely they’d have ever met if circumstances were different. But that’s part of what I wanted to explore with this story- how two people with seemingly nothing in common can end up feeling like family.
LSQ: Your story includes chilling, but specific details of an age when the earth is past hope for habitation, including an Antarctic diaspora and the need to hand pollinate plants. Is there a specific detail that was more difficult to write about? Did you leave any thoughts out?
Hesper: The detail about hand-pollination of plants came from an article about human reliance on bees for pollinating food crops and how mass extinction of bees could lead to humans having to do all this very labor-intensive work by hand. That image really stuck with me – an example of how just growing the food to survive could become extremely difficult. I didn’t purposefully leave anything out – I wanted a few vivid details to tell the larger story.
LSQ: Jolene briefly mulls about the point of continuing, save for Cyrus. What does this say about your characters? Any thoughts on the tenacity of humanity as a whole?
Hesper: Humans have an astonishing capacity for continuing, even in the direst of circumstances, but we can also succumb to despair. Another thing I wanted to explore with this story was how that battle between tenacity and despair can play out not just at moments of obvious crisis but also during quieter times. Jolene is elderly and sees little left for her – but she has Cyrus, and she recognizes that they need each other.
LSQ: Regardless of their circumstances and the message Cyrus must deliver, Jolene breaks out the last bottle of champagne. The emotional impact of being left behind can’t be understated, but there remains a bittersweet celebration of being alive. How important was the idea of marking this event to the story?
Hesper: I think a lot of events that humans mark ultimately boil down to a bittersweet celebration of being alive – most obviously funerals and somber anniversaries, but even things like weddings can be bittersweet occasions as we think of the people who should have been there. There’s also a sense that you shouldn’t hang onto things for too long – you have to drink that last bottle of champagne sometime. With this story, I wanted to show a snapshot of people whose lives are tough, who have been left behind, but haven’t entirely lost all hope, or the chance of happiness.