Kimi Eisele on Using Reality to Build a Post-Apocalyptic World
The The Lightest Object in the Universe Author
on First Draft
First Draft: A Dialogue of Writing is a weekly show featuring in-depth interviews with fiction, nonfiction, essay writers, and poets, highlighting the voices of writers as they discuss their work, their craft, and the literary arts. Hosted by Mitzi Rapkin, First Draft celebrates creative writing and the individuals who are dedicated to bringing their carefully chosen words to print as well as the impact writers have on the world we live in.
From the episode:
Mitzi Rapkin: The tone of the novel was very positive in the midst of something that seems devastating. You know everyone had a choice once everything they relied on went down. They could have pooled their resources. Maybe as a neighborhood they could have grown food or whoever has a car with veggie oil give rides to other people. If you have a skill, maybe you could trade it for this skill and we’ll help each other. Can you talk a little bit about your world-building and how you wanted to create the rules of this world? For example, I’m thinking about the bicycle brigade or how they got mail? Things like that.
Kimi Eisele: Yeah, a lot of that comes directly from observing and being a participant in neighborhoods where I live in Tucson and also being a part of a very collaborative artist community. Tucson is a poor city. We don’t get national attention the ways that people in Los Angeles and New York do in terms of the artists scene. We scramble for resources, but what that has done is created this sense of camaraderie and collectivism in a way. It’s like, “You need lights for this show; here, you can use these lights or you can rent them for one hundred dollars. You can use this studio space.” In my neighborhood and the various neighborhoods I’ve lived in, I’ve also experienced that kind of community-building, with people having pizza in their adobe ovens and having pot lucks.
There was this one time that this bicycle brigade came to town. I don’t know if they’re still around, but I think they were actually called The Superheroes and were from the Midwest. They rolled into the neighborhood, and they wore capes. They showed up at my next door neighbor’s house and they spent the weekend and built a compost toilet for him. I was witnessing all this in real time. Some people were starting to put solar panels up, and people were raising chickens as they had in that neighborhood for generations. I was seeing all that, and it just seemed like “Okay, well I can take that reality and place it in this more frightful scenario.” That was really the inspiration for all that and I could just see it and feel it and it seemed like something that worked.
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Kimi Eisele is a writer and multidisciplinary artist. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Longreads, Orion Magazine, High Country News, and elsewhere. She holds a master’s degree in geography from the University of Arizona, where in 1998 she founded You Are Here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She has received grants from the Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Tucson and works for the Southwest Folklife Alliance. This is her first novel.