2. Stone Cross is based on a misfortune that befell my next-door neighbors. The bewildered elderly couple lost their foreclosed home and their retirement dreams, and moved to a trailer near the city landfill. A year later, the bank sold the house for half the original mortgage to a young family with three kids. They are unaware of the heartache that made the house available to them.
3. The owner of a local brake shop was reluctant to answer questions about how to sabotage a car’s brake system, information I needed for the central crime in Merely an Accident. “Why do you want to do this?” he asked. “I don’t,” I assured him. “It’s just a story.” “Well,” he harrumphed, “I better not read about this in the Star.”
4. The Last Out is an attempt to find humor in an emotionally difficult episode while I was caring for aging parents. I’m happy to report that Maggie was not really murdered. She recovered and she and Joe are back home now, leaning on each other, as before, bravely facing the harsh challenges of getting old.
5. Warm Spots is the longest story. When I cut it back to 3000 words, I didn’t like the result, so I decided the “extra” thousand words were earning their keep. As far as I know, the method of planetary cooling I describe has not been tried, but the idea is theoretically sound and has been seriously proposed. I found that explaining the technical stuff burned up a lot of my word count. Maybe that’s just a hazard of writing sci-fi.
6. The final story, Waved Through, sprang from a lecture I attended by an arrogant judge. He said he enjoyed handing out maximum sentences and bragged about his reputation for being tough. I asked him why he believed in harsh punishment, and he gave a paternalistic-moralistic answer about forcing people to be accountable for their actions. I resolved to write a story about him, but I eventually found it was better to take the point of view of the defendants, rather than that of the judge. All that survives of the judge is the opening courtroom scene.
I hope these stories provide you with some entertainment value. Please let me know if they do.
19,000 words. Approx. pages: 75.
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