Squeals of glee mixed with a deeper laughter came from the stairs. My four-year-old grandson was playing one of his favorite games with his dad: sliding down the stairs.
He’d want to play that game for hours, chuckling when they ended up in a heap at the bottom, racing back to the top for another go.
Dad was always careful to control their descent. Even so, they’d often end up with a bruise or two. But nobody cared. The game was too much fun.
Some might think that game too rough or dangerous, which raises the question: who decides what’s safe and what’s not?
I’ve read about laws that supposedly make us safe. Laws that ban oversized soft drinks. Rules that forbid graduates from throwing their mortarboards in the air. And even the school that prohibited a blind girl from using her cane because it was a trip hazard.
And from a child’s game and perusing the news came the inspiration for one of the them
es of my novel, Flight of the Spark.
What if, I wondered, a society tried to make rules so that people could be completely safe? And what if the people were willing to trade their freedom in exchange for safety?
And would an obsession with safety make us more or less fearful and afraid?
This theme helped shaped the novel’s setting, the world of Tlefas, where the rules are meant to keep people safe.
Until a girl named Iskra broke one of them.
Her sense of duty to country collided with her desire to learn the truth. And her refusal to give up in spite of ever-increasing threats set events in motion that put her life in peril.
As Iskra faced her own fears, so I had to confront my own thoughts about safety, fear and freedom.
Writing the novel forced me to think through my own thoughts about safety, fear and freedom.
I wrapped those thoughts up into a dystopian fantasy, and Flight of the Spark is the result. The theme of safety vs freedom added layers to the events and conflicts in the story, which gives more impact to the story. The result? Some reviewers have called it “engrossing,” “imaginative,” and a “page turner.”