Two summers ago I went for a run on the beach and stopped to look at the ocean. For some reason a sort of gruesome and highly dramatic scene came into my head, where a woman and a man are in a dire situation. There is no way out, it seems, and she tries to persuade him to kill her and then kill himself, because she believes they will come out on the other side of death and be together again.
I poked at the idea a little and my mind served up some quick answers. Why does the woman believe this? Because the man told her so. Why did he tell her so? Because he’s navigated death before and he knows that most people live again and again. How does he know this? Because he remembers it. Why does he remember it? Hmmm. It just happens sometimes. Because there is a wide continuum of memory. Because once in a few centuries somebody is born who has a memory that extends past death.
As I walked home my story got more voluptuous. He loves her, I decided. Not just in this life but before, too. She can’t remember it, but he can. And then I started to wonder: how far back does this memory of his go? When was the very first time he saw her and what happened?
So anyway, that was how the idea started. The more I thought about it, the more interested I became in the idea of his memory.
I got home and wrote up a page, which I ended up using as the first page of the book.