Behind the Short Stories
It's hard enough for an adult to hold on to his convictions in the face of skepticism. How much more difficult is it for an adolescent?
Sometimes taking a relatively common situation and casting it in an unusual setting will give a reader a fresh perspective and perhaps a new understanding. Thus I chose to set this painful situation in the world of Greek mythology. Besides, it was fun pulling in references to mythological creatures!
The depiction of Miss Hypaetus, the harpy schoolteacher, was inspired by Piers Anthony's Xanth series.
I worked in a factory since from 1977 to 2010, several of those years as a welder. Rose was also a welder, and a writer. We spent many hours exchanging ideas, and were even going to write a screenplay together. (That project fell through, although I'm still playing around with the idea.)
One day Rose told me of a kind of vision or waking dream she had in which she saw many of her friends, family members, and acquaintances as inhabiting boxes furnished according to how she saw their personalities. She described a couple of them to me, including the man huddled in the corner of the barren room, who was one of our coworkers. The whole concept was fascinating, and became the inspiration for this story.
I wrote the story in such a way that it could be interpreted on four different levels: socially (the restrictions of popular culture), politically (escaping a repressive society), psychologically (the battle of a mind to be free), or spiritually (the search for spiritual meaning). It's probably no secret which of these I favor.
I showed Rose the completed story. When she finished reading, her first comment was, "How did you know?"
"Umm -- know what?" I replied, confused.
"The man in the room with all the books, the one reading and ignoring the woman -- that's my father."
Incidentally, she never told me about either her box or mine.