Elea Fleißner grew up around stories. She loved nothing more than playing make-believe and listening to her grandmother’s captivating childhood tales. When Elea created The Blue Tarp as her submission for The Anthology Project 2022, it was the first time in many years that she’d written a story.

“When I first heard about The Anthology Project,” Elea said, “I immediately started thinking about certain aspects I wanted my short story to contain. Not all of that actually made it into my story, but most of them ended up in there somehow, but different from what I had imagined in the beginning. I also researched different future-y things I felt might be fun to include. I wrote several paragraphs, all of them different, until I knew what direction I wanted my story to go in. I knew I wanted someone in a house, maybe next to a window, and a cat. I just worked with that until I ended up with what was the original ending to the story,” said Elea.

The house in the story was inspired by a building in the woods near Elea’s home in the Wipptal (Tirol); its roof was mostly destroyed and covered in tarpaulins of differing shapes and colours. Elea also found inspiration from sci-fi books that she’d read over the years, especially those written by American author Becky Chambers who is an expert at world-building.

The most challenging element for Elea when writing for the climate fiction short-story contest was developing a positive storyline. But in doing so, she was able to disregard her own pessimism and anxiety about the climate crisis which allowed her ideas to flow.

She added “I think the point of writing the story for me was mainly to process some of my own feelings about the climate crisis and all the changes that come with it. I wanted to try and approach the issue realistically, without falling into a very pessimistic narrative. To me, the story feels very calm. I hope it makes other people feel that way, too. It might not be the most exciting or action-filled story, but it feels approachable, liveable. Like maybe, the future won’t be so bad, even though it certainly will be different.”

Elea Fleißner spoke to Leanne Mills, Founder & Editor of The Anthology Project.