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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Richard Bowes on After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia

Richard Bowes has won two World Fantasy, an International Horror Guild and Million Writer Awards. His new novel Dust Devil on a Quiet Street will appear on Mayday 2013 from Lethe Press which will also republish his Lambda Award winning novel Minions of the Moon. Recent and forthcoming appearances include: F&SF, Icarus, Apex, Lightspeed and the anthologies Million Writers Award, After, Wilde Stories 2012, Bloody Fabulous, Ghost’s: Recent Hauntings, Handsome Devil, Hauntings and Where Thy Dark Eye Glances.

SF Signal had the opportunity to talk with several authors involved in the new anthology, After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, and featuring stories asking: If the melt-down, flood, plague, the third World War, new Ice Age, Rapture, alien invasion, clamp-down, meteor, or something else entirely hit today, what would tomorrow look like? Some of the biggest names in YA and adult literature answer that very question in this short story anthology, each story exploring the lives of teen protagonists raised in catastrophe’s wake—whether set in the days after the change, or decades far in the future.

CHARLES TAN: Hi Rick! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. For you, how would you define Dyslit or what are its essential characteristics?

RICHARD BOWES: For me, the most compelling, often frightening, elements in this sub-genre are the breakdown of the social order, the sudden importance of the individual in the chaos that follows and the possible emergence of a new order which can be to the good or very bad.

CT: What’s the appeal of Dyslit for you? Why is it important, especially for YA readers?

RB: I’ve written a lot about my childhood and adolescence – often based on personal memories. Some aspects of kids’ lives now are vastly different than they were 50 or 60 years ago. Some are hauntingly the same. One similarity is that kids always live in a world they didn’t make and don’t fully understand in the way adults do. In Dyslit that world suddenly goes away they are utterly on their own. But in many ways they understand the world that emerges better than adults.

CT: What were the challenges in writing “Reality Girl”?

RB: Real, the narrator is a telepath whose powers grow as the story progresses. Conveying that – what it’s like to “read” other minds, to invade them if necessary, to see the world (and often yourself) through another’s eyes was the greatest challenge. But it was also the part that engaged me most.

Another challenge was trying to make the scene compelling enough that a reader would want to follow Real and her crew. I worked to create in the wrecked, terrifying post-apocalypse New York many twisted but vivid humans and semi-human and to show amazing relics among the ruins.

CT: How did you come up with Reality Girl’s clique?

RB: Real and Dare her partner are young lesbians. But they manage and take care of a crew of boys who dive for gold coins thrown by tourists. Real and Dare care value them. watch out for them. Mostly the boys are very loyal. They live together as a unit. It’s partly a gang, partly a family. I wanted to show a different way of living together in this very different world.


Charles Tan is the editor of Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology, the Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler, and Best of Philippine Speculative Fiction 2009. His fiction has appeared in publications such as The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, Philippine Speculative Fiction and the anthology The Dragon and the Stars (ed. by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi).

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