People always ask writers where we get our ideas. There must be as many answers to that question as there are writers. No—scratch that. There might be as many answers to that as there are stories. Because each story is different and comes to us in a slightly different way.
My story “No Walls” is the only one I can remember that sprang from one line. The first line of the story. Suddenly it was there, in my head: I almost died the first time I learned that I could walk through walls.
Along with that first line came the basic premise: the main character can sometimes, for some reason, walk through walls. Of course, some of the walls of a structure are exterior walls, and if you’re on the thirteenth floor of an office building, that’s not a good wall to walk through. So he almost dies, taken off guard by this sudden ability.
Neither a first line, nor a basic premise, do a story make. SF writers have to come up with a basic concept, then extrapolate for all its worth to make an actual story. As the narrator of the story says, “What would the average person do with a ‘gift’ like mine? Is it good for anything but larceny?” I guess that depends on what kind of person you are before getting the gift. It also could depend on who finds out about your gift and what ideas it gives them. Clearly, the dark direction I took with the premise must say something about me.
It also struck me that a man with the power to ignore barriers would actually be trapped by that ability. And hopefully you’ll see the many ways that occurs when you read the story.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Gerard Houarner of Space and Time Magazine because, although he rejected “No Walls”, he gave me his reasons for doing so. There will be a special place in Heaven for all editors who take the time to do that! He was right—I made some changes, and my very next submission, to Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, the story was bought. It became my first published story in Issue 18 of Neo-opsis in December of 2009. For that reason it holds a special place in my estimation. I hope you like it, too.