How did this story come about?
This story was from an idea that I had as a teenager, and tried (and failed) to write as a teenager. I have always wondered if this world is someone’s dream. And if so, who? And what happens to the rest of us when that person gets hurt or dies? Now I’m an adult, and I have realized that my memory isn’t perfect. A lot of the fear of forgetting my life also went into this story.
Can you talk about the challenges of balancing the revelations of what might be happening? (It was so well done.)
Thank you! For a little while I considered making the story about Alzheimer’s and the deterioration of reality from within that perspective, but I dismissed that as too depressing and not SF enough. Ultimately, pacing out the revelations was just a matter of figuring out the twist at the end so that I could build up to it. The short story itself appears within the context of an anthology about video games, so I knew the reader’s mind would jump to conclusions about that — and knowing that helped me throw a few red herrings along the way so that I could hopefully provide a good surprise at the end.
Was there a direction for the story that you ended up not taking?
There were quite a few directions I ended up not taking. Originally, this was going to be a much longer story — maybe novella length. About midway through there is a sentence that says something like “Did we run to the coast? Did we fight? I can’t remember.” That line was a call-out to all the other adventures that these two characters were going to have. Ultimately, I realized that I could keep the poignancy without sending them on some world-spanning adventure. It was more emotional to stick to that a familiar setting and watch it fall apart piece by piece.
This story, its scenario, lingered with me. Whose story has stuck with you long after reading?
Lots and lots of stories stick with me. One that comes up in my mind an absurd amount is Stephen King’s The Long Walk. Every time I’m walking anywhere, pretty much, I think to myself, “What if I couldn’t stop walking?” How long could you go before your sanity starts to crumble? Thanks a lot, Stephen!
Any new projects you want to tell us about?
I have a playable story in the App Store that I’m very excited about, called Mayday! Deep Space. Using speech recognition, you literally answer a mayday call and help a survivor escape from a derelict spaceship overrun with horrifying zombies. It’s a unique pet project (selected as a “Top 25 Best Game of 2015” by Gamezebo) and you can grab it at maydayapps.com!
Spread the word!