What if one what if collides with another what if

My mind is a “what if?” generator. I write in order to answer that question, or more usually a pair of them. Answering one “what if?” generally only gives me an idea for a vignette or a tediously linear tale. But if two of them collide then I’m usually on to something.

My published story “First and Third” is a case in point. While holidaying in the Tucson area of Arizona some years ago, I was fascinated to see roadside billboards displaying memorials to the recently deceased. What if, I wondered, a driver saw an animated CGI version of their much-missed loved one during their journey? How would they feel?

But that’s not yet a story. It could be, but it needs something more.

Another of my notebook’s questions to myself went along the lines of “What if the digital afterlife operated as pay-as-you-go service?”


So now my character’s deceased wife is begging him for money, from a billboard. And just for fun, the narrator is riding a nuclear-powered Harley Davidson on Mars. Now that was a story I needed to write.

The result was First and Third, which appeared in Postscripts 26/27 “Unfit for Eden” (2012).

If you’d like to read First and Third you can find it in my Moondust Memories collection, which is available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, etc.

Why do I write?

Because every now and then two “what ifs” collide.

(First published at The Thinkerbeat  Reader, 1 November 2019)