This week’s story, “In the Act of Falling,” is told from the perspective of a woman whose life is fraying. Her husband has lost his job; her nine-year-old son has been suspended from school; her house is too big and too expensive for the family’s reduced circumstances. Did you always know the point in her life at which the story would start?
No. In the earliest versions of the story, she didn’t exist at all. The story began as an urban apocalyptic one, and in place of the tennis net I had nets hanging above the streets of the Dublin city center to protect shoppers from birds that were falling from the sky in the thousands. There was a younger couple in that early version, but no child. The ducks were part of the story from the start; dead, of course—birds, animals, and insects tend not to fare too well in my fiction.