In “Different People,” there are conflicting attitudes towards finding an alternate you in the universe, some finding that an attractive quest to take on while others don’t seem as interested. What is it about finding a parallel twin that you think people find so attractive?
I think that what people find attractive about finding a parallel self is that it gives you an opportunity to see how your life could have gone but didn’t. I assume everyone fantasizes about that sometimes—what your life would be like if you’d chosen a different career or gone to a different school or a million other choices that cascade down to form a completely different life. In the real world, there’s no way to see what would have happened, but if it were possible, I bet a lot of people would want to see how things turned out based on that different choice. What I’m not so sure about is whether people would be happier to see that their other self made the “right” or “wrong” choice.
This story drips tension, both in the world of the narrator as well as the world itself, but there’s a fine balance here that makes sure that one doesn’t overtake the other. Was it difficult finding that balance as you were writing it?
When I originally wrote this story, I was most focused on the characters, with the parallel world and the fugitives from it serving basically as scaffolding for their story. It was really only once I approached the story’s end and realized that this universe would be destroyed the way Rachel’s original one was that I went back and began seeding hints of that throughout. For me, establishing that balance in revision is often easier than trying to create it right when I start writing. Of course, I want all my stories to have that balance of plot and character, but I recognize that when I conceive of a story, it usually stems from one or the other.
If you had the chance, would you meet a parallel you? What would the two of you do together (pandemic notwithstanding)?
I don’t think I would. I’m happy with who I am, so I’d rather not see that “road not taken” version, whether he is in a better or worse place than me. As for what I’d want to do if we did meet, it’s pretty much the same things that I’d like to do with anyone once the pandemic is over—hang out and have a beer at a taproom or just sit in a living room together and talk.
What’s next for you? Any projects you can talk about?
There’s hopefully a larger project coming up that I can’t talk about right now but hopefully will be able to soon. I also have a few more accepted stories that should be published some time this year, including my Daily Science Fiction debut. And there are still a bunch of stories out there in submission-land. Like a lot of writers, I think, the past year hasn’t been great for my productivity, but I’ve still managed to draft a few, so now it’s about getting them ready to submit and getting back into a good writing groove.
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