In the acknowledgments to Semiosis, I wrote: “I owe thanks to Gregory Frost, whose writing exercise about a special kind of wall led to this novel.”
That exercise took place in 1996 at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, which I attended. As one of the instructors, Greg assigned several exercises over his week of teaching, one of them involving a wall. As I recall, it went something like this:
“Imagine a wall that appears overnight between two groups about to go to war. They can see through it, they can communicate through it, but they can’t pass through it and attack each other. Begin that story.”
We only had to write the opening paragraphs, but some of us were inspired to continue. Mike VanWie wrote a bittersweet love story in a style we would now call steampunk, but back then we just called it imaginative. Dan Jeffers came up with a comic sword and sorcery novel with sex scenes and other digressions in the appendices.
(The photo shows us hard at work on a different exercise, a group project involving tropes.)
I eventually wrote a science fiction short story in which the wall was a human colony on a distant planet. That story was published in 1999 as “Adaptation” by the magazine LC-39, and later I expanded it into a novel, Semiosis.
Thanks again, Greg. Great oaks from little acorns grow.
My next novel, Immunity Index, goes on sale May 4.