Rural isolation lends itself to clandestine activities; so does Nevada’s laissez-faire brand of rugged individualism. Were I writing the story now, I’d have to explain why Welly’s selling pot instead of meth.
Some of the more intelligent speculations about their silence are in the story, shortly before the Sayings of the Elder: that they don’t speak because they are listening; because they are hiding something.
Where is the sacrifice in a martyr who believes he’ll live eternally in paradise? I was trying to think about the idea of true martyrdom—the sacrifice of not just your life, but of the hope for an afterlife.
I wanted the structure of the story to mimic the time-jumps that Hwang endures over and over again, in order to evoke at least a ghost of that instability, that sense of unease. I also had some ideas that I wasn’t sure how to make use of individually.