Today I am interviewing Nina Allan, author of the new science-fiction novel, The Rift.
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DJ: Hey Nina! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Nina Allan: Hi, and thanks for having me! I’m a British writer, with a keen lifelong interest in speculative fiction across all genres. I’ve published more than fifty short stories and a couple of collections. My first novel The Race was shortlisted for the Kitschies Red Tentacle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. I live and work on the Isle of Bute, in western Scotland. The Rift is my second novel.
DJ: What is The Rift about?
Nina: The Rift is about two sisters, Selena and Julie. Julie disappeared at the age of seventeen, leaving her family devastated and unable to come to terms with what happened. Twenty years later, Selena receives a telephone call from someone claiming to be Julie, saying she has spent time on another planet and that she wants her return to the world to be kept secret. The woman seems in every way to be Julie, but Selena can’t bring herself to believe the story she tells about herself. She has to make a decision: is Julie really her sister or not? And how much of what she says is a fantasy, an explanation for the real trauma she experienced when she was abducted?
DJ: What were some of your influences for The Rift?
Nina: That’s such a difficult question to answer, because the novel changed so much while I was writing it. The Rift was originally going to be a more straightforward alien abduction story. I’m fascinated by that phenomenon, and more particularly by the many testimonies recorded from people who claim to have been the victims. Again and again, you see a gulf opening up when a friend or close family member claims to have experienced something that people on the outside of that experience find difficult and more often impossible to believe. At some point that theme – the idea of difference that arises out of absence or separation – began to take over from the aliens themselves. A key influence was Joan Lindsay’s novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, which a lot of people will know through Peter Weir’s film adaptation. One scene in particular – where the miraculously returned Irma is brought into school to say goodbye to her classmates – kept coming back to me. It’s an odd scene, a supremely powerful scene, because you would imagine the other girls would be delighted to see their comrade again, but what you get instead is a barely repressed violence, an anger that she knows something and is refusing to tell them. These are the kinds of ideas The Rift ends up exploring. Continue reading