Emma Clarendon chatted to the author about her new collection of stories Terminal Romance, published on the 17th September.
Hi Nikki, could you tell me more about what Terminal Romance is about? Terminal Romance is a collection of interlinked short stories touching on themes such as connections, physicality vs cyberspace, and romantic disillusion. The timeline of the book starts in the mid-1990s and stretches to the advent of social media. A lot has happened in two decades. Before the internet people met and communicated virtually through letters, telegrams, CB radios. We long to connect to one another through whatever means we can find. And even though it is done online in my book, the urge, the need, the impetus to meet and fall in love transcends a particular technology.
How did the idea for this collection of stories come about? I wanted to give a voice to the virtual debate, which early adopters of the internet often had to defend. We have progressed technologically since then and mainly view online dating not so much as a valid component in our arsenal but as a necessity of the times – a precursor for meeting new people but also communicating with the people already in our lives. Despite this, we often associate visual experiences as truth – playfulness, imagination, mental leaps of faith never resonate as loudly as what we see in front of us.
I feel children have a leg-up on adults in this discussion – the line between imagination and reality is a thin one until they get older and are forced to choose only one facet that defines them.
Have you any dating dramas of your own that helped you relate to the characters you created? Like many stories, there is some reality to everything you write, whether the events happened to you personally, or not – you take the factual bones of a situation and apply it to your characters and that invention in turn becomes your own truth.
Is there any story from the collection that you particularly enjoyed writing? They all have merit. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of writing a good part of the stories as dialogue. For example, Twenty Songs of Love is written entirely in chat, so it seems you are eavesdropping on a private conversation.If I must pick one story representative of enjoyable writing (if there is such as thing) it would be Keeper of Memory. I am enamoured by the idea of forgetfulness and how our memories are the real building blocks of who we are.
What did you enjoy most about creating these stories and characters?At the beginning, I played a hardcore game of devil’s advocate, putting the socially reticent nerd in the spotlight. But as my characters became more realised, I had to redraw the line, pushing the need for physicality, as well as the longing for unseen connections that are more than just about how you look. Acceptance is thrilling, whatever form you choose. I had fun creating (and thwarting) the desires of my characters.
How would you describe Terminal Romance?The characters in Terminal Romance are searching for love, searching for each other, searching for physical and virtual encounters in a world in which cyber stalkers, foot fetishists and love-struck professors clash with misfits and reality-impaired pessimists. These inter-linking meta vignettes are more than boy meets girl on a blind date – it exposes the uncertainties and complexities of love and our need to reach out and connect at all costs.
By Emma Clarendon
Terminal Romance by Niki Aguirre is out from flipped eye publishing on 17th September.