Possibilities and questions about what could happen inspire most of my work. Fantastic America and Midwestern Magicians examine what would happen if magic returned to our modern world. Other stories I’ve written (however poorly) examine other questions. Like, what does it mean to be human? What do we share in common as a species (like food, sleep, and death) and what differences (cultural, religious, and technical) are there besides that? Sometimes especially in a novel length work, several questions come up through the narrative. What is the right thing to do in a given situation, and how do you choose when there is more than one ‘right’ choice? How does the toss of a coin, or roll of the dice change what could happen into what does happen? Choices my characters make and the repercussions from those choices are one of my favorite topics to explore. Not making a choice at all is great to explore, though it can be tough to show how restraint is the best choice of all sometimes.
While in the Navy, I was once put in charge of firing a missile at a drone off the coast of Crete. We spent weeks preparing, days arming the missile before the firing event, and the whole ship was expecting to see a launch and explosion. On the day of the exercise I was ready to shoot. Tension was high, other Naval vessels were taking part in the exercise as well. My ship lined up to fire and everyone on board expected me to shoot down this drone. (Drones were new and untested in the Navy back then.)
I had the drone lit up on my radar, but it kept drifting out of the safe firing zone. When I finally locked on again, it had drifted too close to a trailing ship. My finger was on the launch button, but firing would endanger the ship behind us. The firing range reported seconds later that they had lost control of the drone. They recovered what was left of it on the shoreline later. If I’d shot that day, I would have put over three hundred fellow sailors in harms way. I chose restraint, but that is hardly as sexy or exciting as Luke’s run on the Death Star.