• How did the idea for “Final Exam” first come to you?

I’ve talked in other interviews about mentally drafting “Final Exam” as I drove to and from a summer class in Education methods—I’m sure this story owes something to the American education system’s obsession with standardized assessment. I began by jotting down the first question, pretty much as it appears in the published version, and as soon as I was writing about ocean spray and the vastness of the universe, I knew it was going to be a story about Lovecraftian monsters from the deep. It’s important for me to emphasize that the form of the story came first, before all the details about the monsters and the main character’s (narratee’s?) failing marriage. I didn’t sit down with an apocalypse plot and think, “What would be a clever way to write this story?” I just started writing it. A lot of the drafting process felt like free association, just throwing details on the page and referencing them at a later point in the story to build the sense of a coherent narrative.

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SPOTLIGHT: “Final Exam” by Megan Arkenberg


Change can be hard.

It can knock us off track, upset the balance, subvert the very fabric of our existence. But what do you do in the face of change? Stop living? That’s usually not an option. The world waits for no one, and it certainly won’t be stopping for you. The planet will continue its resolute orbit and you will be left to pick up the pieces of your life and try to fit them back together into some semblance of normalcy, what’s called “getting your shit together” in the parlance of the times.

But how can you get your shit together when fish-monsters are taking over the world?

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