Interview: Mike Allen

At our sister site,, Charles Tan talks with Nebula-nominated author, Mike Allen, about his story “The Button Bin.”

Mike AllenLet’s talk about your nominated story, “The Button Bin.” What was the inspiration behind the piece?

Years ago my wife and I were visiting a charming fabric shop at the center of an equally charming little mountain town. While she shopped I took a seat beside an immense bin – an RC Cola machine, I believe, lying on its back with its front and all the mechanical parts removed – filled to the top with every kind of button you could imagine. Like any decent primate attracted to shinies, I started to run my hand through it, discovered I could submerge my arm in buttons at least past the elbow.

Then, I wondered: what if I pulled my arm out and the buttons had attached themselves to my skin? What if I could then unbutton my flesh, see what my soul looks like?

It may say a lot about how dark my view of the world can be that the entire plot of “The Button Bin” exploded into existence inside my head right then and there.