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Got a Good Question…

Why That Art on the Top of this Web Site??

To start off, that art is by the fabulous Philcold, who does all of the art for my Seeders series.

The art up top here is on the cover of my Thunder Mountain novel called Melody Ridge that I wrote back in 2018. But that novel is much more than another Thunder Mountain time travel novel. Here is the short version of the story.

Way back in the 1970s, I wrote a story about a jukebox that takes a listener back physically to the memory of the song. First one I wrote I sent out without a sale and the manuscript was later toasted in my house fire. (I rewrote it to death in that period anyway. It had no hope of selling.)

I knew I had not done a good job with the idea, so I wrote the same idea again and fired it off. (After 1982, so no rewriting to ruin it.) This time it sold to Twilight Zone Magazine and ended up in its sister magazine Night Cry.

I still wasn’t pleased with how I handled the idea, so I wrote the exact same story again, and this time it sold to Ed Ferman at F&SF Magazine. That story is called “Jukebox Gifts” and I was finally happy with the story. (Story has been reprinted a ton and optioned in Hollywood a number of times as well. The link on the title goes to two different issues of Smith’s Monthly, both of which have the story. It is not yet put out stand-alone.)

So over the years I kept writing more and more “Jukebox” stories, with the same bar and cast of characters that was in “Jukebox Gifts.” But I had no idea where the Jukebox came from or why. I just wrote the stories.

Then one day in 2018, I started writing a Thunder Mountain novel about how music of the pianos can still be heard to this day from the town of Roosevelt submerged in 1909 by a landslide.

And by the time I was done, I had written Melody Ridge: A Thunder Mountain Novel that was the origin novel as well of the Jukebox. And in that novel I ended the jukebox as well. Origin and the ending of the entire series.

So a series I started back in the 1970s and was very important to me ended in that book 40 years later in my writing career. And I love that Thunder Mountain novel as well.

So that’s why that wonderful Philcold art is at the top of my web site.

Also is a lesson to never get in a hurry. For 40 years I had no idea where the jukebox came from, until suddenly in 2018, I figured it out and wrapped it all up. Jukebox stories were a really fun series of stories to write. But I don’t miss it. I ended it and that was how it should be.



  • James Palmer

    Isn’t it funny how these things happen?

    I created a character for a space opera novel who for some reason had a prosthetic arm. But I didn’t have a clue how she got the arm.

    Much later I was writing a story for one of the Expanding Universe anthologies published by the 20Books guys, and I included that character and told the story of how she lost her arm and ended up with the prosthetic. I never would have figured it out without writing that story. Weird. But fun when it happens.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, I love that. Kris and I both write other stories to figure out something that happened in one story. Kris does this all the time in her Diving series. Super fun.

  • Brad D. Sibbersen

    I absolutely love it when ideas dovetail like this, and it works so much better when you don’t force it. That’s why, when I find myself dropping what appears to be an irrelevant detail into one of my stories, it stays. It’s paid off for me, in later stories, a few times, and now my books feel like their own little contained universe/reality, not unlike the Marvel Cinematic U or Stephen King’s subtly interconnected novels. Trust the subconcious (AKA your Creative Voice). It knows.

  • Jason M

    In my flagship series (9 titles), I purposefully kept my protag’s background mysterious and empty. I had no idea where she came from and didn’t want to know, other than that her husband had left her without a clue one day.
    Now, 12+ years later, I’m relaunching the whole series — and am writing an “origin” story regarding her search for said ex-husband. It will serve as the lead-in, book 1, of the newly relaunched series.
    I’m thanking my younger self for not being in a hurry to explain her.