Monday, May 26, 2014

Playing What If?

I’ve always taken an interest in life’s little riddles – those complicated questions that don’t necessarily have any answers. No right or wrong. Ones you could sit around for hours and discuss and never come to any sort of conclusion. They’re my absolute favorite.

On a rare and coveted lazy weekend, the kind when there are no kids’ activities, no friends’ barbeques, no family festivities (as much as we love them all – wink, wink), my husband and I sometimes sit around creating scenarios that are out of the ordinary. They usually begin with the words What If. They start off simple and tame.

But as the day goes on, both the questions and answers become more convoluted. For example, “What if I killed someone? Would you stand by me if it was an accident? What if I did it on purpose? Would the reason why matter?” I find that life’s real dilemmas never come with a “good decision” handbook and are often less believable than fiction. So our game has to reflect that. What would be the fun in life if everything was easy anyway?

One of those marathon conversations led to the idea for my first novel, At This Stage, which hits this summer. The general topic of unanswerable questions that day had been impossible relationships. Well into the night, it stayed with me and I was still making up possible scenarios in my head. I found myself in bed wondering what would happen if two people were thrust into a situation where it was truly inappropriate for them to be together. And could something happen over time that would change their circumstance and make their relationship okay after all? Thus, Kaitlyn and Jackson, my two main characters, were born.

More than once, I’ve wished I had a tiny, crystal ball. One that could show me my future if I decide on Path A, rather than Path B. One that could take the doubt out of my decisions and show me definitively what I should do in a certain situation.

But then, I guess if that little ball existed, we’d all have to have one. And then everyone would know exactly what to do all the time. No one would ever make mistakes if they listened to their ball and there would be no more mystery about where life would take us. What a horrible bore that would be.

And even worse than that, my husband and I would have to come up with another game to play on our down time. I’d rather live with the unknown and see where all the What Ifs lead me.

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