"And Then They Were Gone" by Ian Creasey — story background

Before she left her room, Samanda clutched her arms to make sure her dress's sleeves were pulled all the way down.  She grimaced, annoyed with herself for needing to check.  Then she followed her parents out of the house, through the garden, to the limousine at the end of the drive.  The chauffeur already had the engine running.  Samanda disliked the ostentatious Bentley: she knew it would be tracked to its destination, updating the gossip sites' real-time celebrity database.  When they arrived, the world could watch their every movement, and make supportive comments about how well they were dressed and how good they looked today — or not.

As with many of my stories, this one took a long time to reach fruition.  In 2006, I watched a TV documentary about taxidermy.  It struck me as an area that was ripe for science-fictional extrapolation.  I wrote several pages of notes setting out possible story directions, but none of them felt sufficiently compelling.

Over the next few years, I occasionally contemplated doing something with the taxidermy premise.  At one stage I planned to set the story within my "Drake's Devices" milieu of eccentric scientists, where a taxidermy convention would be another weekend event like those in "Demonstration Day" and "Best in Show".  Later, I thought about making it a "parallel worlds" story, alongside several other stories that also centred on parallel worlds.

The basic problem with those ideas was that they were too complicated.  I needed something simpler.  Eventually I came up with a more self-contained approach, using an 18-year-old girl as a protagonist.

For story purposes I needed her parents to be celebrities whose careers were over, so I made her father a footballer and her mother a girl-group pop singer.  It's not uncommon for footballers to marry pop stars.  When I wrote the first draft, I knew of at least two examples of such marriages, which meant (in my own mind at least) that my characters weren't based on anyone specific.  However, it must be acknowledged that there is one particularly famous example of a footballer/singer marriage, and it's easy to assume that my characters are an intentional reference to those specific persons.  They're not, honestly.  In retrospect, I regret not putting a little more distance between my characters and real celebrities.  The problem is that I wanted to evoke a certain kind of celebrity milieu, and it's easier to do that with characters that resemble real people.  (I know this sounds vague without names, but my point is that my story characters are not intended to reflect specific personages, so to name anyone here would be counterproductive.)

The story was eventually published in 2017, eleven years after its inspiration in a TV documentary.  Yes, I have a ridiculously slow writing process!

Page last updated: 9 April 2019