A Country Of Eternal Light
by Darby Harn
"One of the most beautiful books I've ever read" - Sunyi Dean, author of The Book Eaters
A rogue black hole tears apart the solar system. Mairead’s life is already in pieces.
The Earth has less than a year to survive.
Asteroids rain hell; earthquakes rattle cities; manic tides swamp coasts. Mairead intends to give herself to the erratic waves that erode her remote Irish island, the same that claimed her child. When Gavin, an American, arrives to scatter his father’s ashes, she becomes torn between wanting for life and death.
Despite the tides, fuel shortages, and closing borders that threaten to trap him on the island, Gavin can’t seem to scatter the ashes. He doesn’t know how to let go any more than Mairead does and they find a strange comfort in their confusion.
Their affair draws Mairead back to the world of the living, but the longer Gavin stays, the more it seems there might be a future for them. There is no future.
Life closes down around them. The world they know shreds. Life drains into an inescapable abyss. And yet Mairead fights, both the gravity of her grief and the restless, dissonant desire to find some kind of peace no matter how brief.
There is success in death.
Fish flop in confusion as the sea peels back to the mainland. Dinner tonight. Breakfast tomorrow, if I’m thinking of tomorrow. I leave them in the goopy, gasping muck. I keep walking. I am far now, farther than I can run when the tide returns. Bereft water jostles in pitted rock. Strands of seaweed coil around my feet. I feel your pull.
Here I am.
This buzz in the air. The tide coming back, surely. I look up, expectant. Meteors rip through the blue, faster than any wish can catch. Broken stalks of rainbows on the horizon. Comets like white lies. Three more today, competing with the big one they call Medusa, with all her snake tails.
I wait for my success.
The sea must have run off to the States with everyone else. That buzz again. Louder. Closer. The turboprop from the mainland comes out of nowhere. The plane hasn’t been over in weeks. Most days, high tide swamps the eastern horn of the island, the bit of Inishèan that can accommodate a runway. Right next to the cemetery.
Take offs and landings.
The sea is out. The plane is able to make a landing. He might have medicine, the pilot. Food. He’ll have room, for the trip back to Galway. Someone will get delivered today.
About the Author
Darby Harn studied at Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Irish Writing Program. He is the author of the sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, The Coffin Bell and other venues.
Q&A With the Author
Are you a Plotter (one who plans or plots out every detail of the writing process) or Pantser (one who writes by the seat of his/her pants)?
I’m definitely a Pantser. I have an idea, or a character, or a voice, and I just kind of go from there. With A Country Of Eternal Light, it was the amalgamation of several ideas that then became kinetic. I knew how the book ended, down to the last line, but everything in between was mostly a mystery. It was a process of discovery that lasted years in my case. I began the novel properly in 2015.
What advice do you have for a new writer?
Read as much as you can. Read as diversely as you can. And listen. You have to have an ear for feedback but you also should have an ear for the world. What do people say? Not say? How do they speak? A novel should be an overheard conversation or eavesdrop on someone’s thoughts.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
None of it is easy. The most enjoyable is revising, though I wish I had greater clarity on a story sooner. I think some writers arrive at obvious things faster than I do.
What is your favorite part of this story?
I think my favorite aspect of A Country Of Eternal Light is that people seem to have some value in it. That means the world to me. For a long time, I thought it had no value at all.
Which Character was the most fun to write about? Why?
Aoife. Aoife is the comic relief, if there is any. It’s a very sober novel, very dark at times, but Aoife provides some levity in her approach to the end of the world.
Which Character was the hardest to write about? Why?
Mairead was difficult to write. Not just in terms of voice, which was a challenge for sure, but trying to write from the perspective of someone who has lost everything. You discover quickly how limited you are and unworthy in many cases in trying to see the world from the perspective of someone so grief-stricken. But you try to understand and you try to connect. You try to hope, because that’s all you can do.
Darby Harn will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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