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Commentary on “Schrodinger’s Child”

Tom Gartner

The story “Schrodinger’s Child” is part of a cycle, or novel-in-stories, that gradually evolved over a number of years. I’d written a few stories with the same characters, and eventually started to see a longer arc. There are about twenty stories altogether; most have been published, a few are still looking for homes. In some cases I wrote stories to fit into the arc as I saw it; in others the characters or situations of previous stories suggested (dictated, even) a new story I hadn’t previously planned. “Schrodinger’s Child” was one of the latter; I had thought everything was over between these characters, but it turned out they had unfinished business.

The  natural world is a key in the cycle, and the stories are set all over the West, mostly in wild places — in the Sierra Nevada, in the Tetons, in Zion Canyon, most of all on California’s Lost Coast. So this story is a little atypical in that much of it is set in a city, but even there the characters are subject to the gravitational pull of the land where they grew up.

The main challenge in writing the story was that by this stage of the arc, the characters had a lot of history that could have been included. I had to include enough for the story to make sense, but not so much that it bogged things down. Also, with quite a few possible different endings, I had to choose one that would plausibly lead in the direction I wanted the overall arc to go.   

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Tom Gartner’s fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous journals, including California Quarterly, The Madison Review, New Limestone Review, Levee, and Kestrel.  One story was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He lives in California, just north of the Golden Gate, and works as a buyer for an independent bookstore in San Francisco.

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