Where did you draw your inspiration for “Eternity Unknown”?
Eternity Unknown was originally written for an anthology, which it did not get a place in. The theme of the anthology was ‘rediscovery.’ During the writing process, I thought about what that could mean, and the story just sort of formed itself from the theme. I drew inspiration for the setting and characters itself from other fantasy work I’ve done. I’ve always liked fair folk, and with the themes that the story was dealing with, it seemed appropriate to use one as the main character.
The story deals with intentional memory loss to escape the pain of guilt. Do you believe this is a real problem in everyday society?
Not in the way it’s presented in the story, no. However, I do believe that people in our culture have a habit of ignoring or marginalizing emotional pain of all sorts. People are expected to be doing well all the time, when the reality is that sadness and pain are very real and important parts of life, and need to be listened to when they appear.
You chose to end the story on a cliffhanger. What are you hoping readers are thinking at the end of it?
Erenthall has been through the events of the story multiple times. In part, I wanted it to be ambiguous whether he would repeat them again, but at the same time, it’s quite likely that he will. I think the story is more powerful not knowing which he will pick, as it’s the question that is more important than the answer.
Would you consider “Eternity Unknown” to be a love story between Erenthall and Loren or Erenthall and the city? Why or why not?
Not really. Although his love for Loren does play a strong role in the story, it’s not the main premise or the source of any of the conflict. Whether it’s a love story between him and his city is a more interesting question. He does love the city, and it was his home for a long time, but he’s lost it. The story could be read as a reunion between him and the city, save that the city is dead. When you read it like that, it’s more of a tragedy than a love story, I suppose.
How did your writing process differ between this project and others you have worked on?
This is one of the only times I’ve written a one-shot story. Most of my work is part of a larger series or novel, so it was interesting to write something this self-contained and individual.
Reality Skimming Press brands itself as ‘optimistic sci-fi’. Tell us what this phrase means to you.
To me, it means that stories have to mean something. Even a very dark story can have a positive impact on the reader if it tries to say something worthwhile. It’s when fiction is without meaning and purpose that it is truly dark, in my opinion.
What projects are you currently working on?
Eternity Unknown is set in a larger fantasy universe that I’ve spent years developing, called the Astral. The universe is quite large and complex, with many different worlds coexisting and interacting with one another. I am working on a series of short stories set in it, which are available on my website (cjmcpherson.com), and am currently editing a novel.