PY: Space is clearly an overarching theme in “A Lunar June.” Is it a frequently occurring theme in your other works?
BH: This story, I suppose, marks the first time that I have written about space. I guess I always had the sense that a space story was going to sort of roil itself up in me – I especially think this when I consider the long nights watching the Northern Lights and the shooting stars both in my hometown/village of Long Lake, Wisconsin, and in my college town, Marquette, Michigan, both of which are gorgeous places with skies that are wide open, that really make you feel like you’re in an observatory watching the cosmic pulls and flares of everything all around you. It makes you feel small. And I mean that in the best way.
So, I guess I knew the space thing was coming.
I guess I also knew something was coming along at some point that would push my interest with space into fascination – the same way I knew for certain that, if I just watched long enough, a star would burn up and fall from the sky right before my eyes, I also knew that someone or something was going to come blazing through my life like that, that would leave me amazed, enthralled, and writing about it.
PY: Tell us about how your interest in both space and writing came about.
BH: I began wanting to write when I played a game called Final Fantasy VII. I was five. I seem to remember it kicking me out of the ether of pre-consciousness – like I heard the intro music, and I left that zone where everything is just kind of lights, and sometimes dopamine, and sometimes not.
This game tackles important topics within the confines of its world – namely environmental awareness, political distress, and social inequality. I think we live in troubled times on our own Earth. I think it would be ignorant to say that our warming climate, discriminating policies, bold-faced social inequalities, etc., are indicative of the best we’ve got. I think that there’s a more beautiful and peaceful truth at the bottom of every person, and I guess if we can only dig into people, find that truth, and live it, things will be better. I think art, and writing, in particular, can be that tool that digs.
As far as space – there is a scene in Final Fantasy VII in which your characters are blasted into space, and they see their world, as monster-ridden and villain-filled as it is, as utterly beautiful anyway. I think that was important.
PY: You labeled “A Lunar June” as creative nonfiction. Did you ever show it to the girl in the story? Do you think she ever recovered the objects you left for her at the end?
BH: I have never shown this piece to the girl in the story. I drafted it, very sure that I was going to send it, and then I just didn’t. It didn’t feel right, I guess. I think it felt like I had to wait for a better time, and a better way to show it to her. Maybe that was just a nerve thing.
So then I doubt, of course, that she ever recovered the objects I left for her – I imagine some city worker had to pick it all up (I apologize!), and I’m sure it’s all rattling around in some industrial recycling bin now or baking in the sun in a landfill, destined to never decompose.
And that might sound sad.
But I think if she thought of me even once on her wedding day, she would have thought about that time under that tree, and if she did, it’s kind of like she was there, and if it’s kind of like she was there, it’s kind of like she might have found it and read the note in the same way that she might, I hope, find this story here, and take the time to read it.