Can you tell us a bit about where the idea for “Fortune’s Final Hand” came from?
My wife and I are occasional recreational gamblers, who visit casinos when time and finances permit. We are aware of the drawbacks, among them that the odds are overwhelmingly that you will go home having lost what you came to play with, and that the games have a compulsive aspect that can lead you to keep playing anyway. The premise of a casino where the stakes are life memories led me to the realization that, even if you win, you will go home with a set of life experiences that don’t involve you, and you will become someone other than who you started out to be. If you play with money, and win, who cares if your pocket was churned and the bills in your wallet are not the same ones you entered with? But your memories are you. And so even to play one game in this place is a kind of soul-suicide. The only way to win is not to play.
“Fortune’s Final Hand” is told in non-chronological order to very striking effect. How and when did you decide that the story would be told in this manner?
It occurred to me that someone who had spent any amount of time in this venue would have her experiences so churned by gameplay that it would become impossible to know what happened when. And so, I arranged for my protagonist a series of wildly divergent situations, that probably take place over the course of a year: from prosperous winner to nearly emptied loser, with one stint as terrified fugitive providing contrast. Make no mistake, though. Aside from that scene that takes place on her first night at the resort, not wanting to play, I have absolutely no idea about the story order. She might escape. And she might not.
When I realized that the story would have to take this form, I knew that it would work.
Where can our readers find more of your work?
The calendar year 2020 should have a couple of Analog novellas, and several other Lightspeed and Nightmare stories. I give the perennial plug to my middle-grade Gustav Gloom novels and to my audio collection, My Wife Hates Time Travel and Other Stories.
Spread the word!