It’s a story that I find both heartfelt and unsettling; I feel compassion for the characters even as I’m disturbed by their behavior. I set out to write about coping with grief in a way that I hadn’t seen explored before, and to investigate whether it’s possible to shift our own identities, or shift someone else’s identity for our own selfish purposes (the working title of the piece was Identical and I wanted to interrogate what it means to know you’re a physical duplicate of someone else, especially when you don’t know who you are yourself). I think I achieved those goals, at least to the best of my ability, and I hope readers feel the same.
What inspired this piece?
This is an idea I’ve had in my pocket for seven years, and it’s interesting to look back at how details have shifted while core concerns have remained the same (the idea of a widow bringing her husband’s estranged twin to visit in hopes of forcing closure for herself was the initial idea that grabbed me, but at one point Pete was homosexual, at another point Maya’s child was already a few years old and a present character). It felt like a rich psychological playground that I could never find the best way into. When I struck on the idea of Pete struggling to find his identity after psychological trauma (and yes, to be brief, some of Pete’s struggles do match my own, but only in the broadest sense) that made everything click, and I was able to finally produce a version that felt right.