Writing software design specifications is lucrative, but it doesn’t really thrill my soul. While slogging through the 2-3 hour daily commute that is fairly common in the Bay Area, I used to listen to audiobooks to help pass the time and make the hours spent in traffic feel more productive. One of the books I listened to is A View from the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman. It’s a collection of non-fiction (essays, forewords, speeches, etc) about topics ranging from art to creativity to red carpet events to literacy. In one essay about speculative fiction, he said that most stories can be distilled to one of several simple questions, including, “What if…?”
This fascinated me, and at times I’d let my mind wander and think about a question centered around my fascination with superheroes and stories about magical powers: What if telekinesis was real, but kind of lame? Hollywood has set expectations pretty high for spectacular public destruction, but maybe it would be much quieter than that. What if some people had it, and some people didn’t, like musical or athletic abilities? What place would those skills have in our society? At the time my biotech client was erecting the steel beam structure for a laboratory extension, and I wondered if a person had the strength, would they be allowed to lift a beam into place with only their mind? What if they sneezed? Would the crane operators revolt? How would casinos and sports leagues and jewel heists change? What about airline security? Bomb squads?
That was the germination of my first novel, currently titled Roll the Bones. It’s not published yet, and that’s ok. My editor is trying to find it a home, but I tried to center my goals on writing a book I’d want to read- a much more attainable goal than figuring out what editors would want, what audiences would buy, and what the market would bear. And I accomplished my goal! If it ends up in the Amazon ebook world, that will be fine too. A sample is here.
I’ve also begun the follow-up to the first book, a continuation of this world with some of the same characters. It’s still in the early stages. One of my greatest challenges is that I spend most days at a computer for my job, and it’s difficult to want to spend my evenings and weekends bathing in the blue glow my monitors yet again. Book 2 Intro
And finally, a short story that emerged during a sabbatical from work in late 2020. I don’t really know what to do with it, so I’m putting it here.