How I Came to Write SABRINA’S WINDOW and PRECARIOUS by author Al Riske

Sabrina’s Window is still a mystery to me, even though I wrote it.

I wrote the first few pages years ago, set them aside, and forgot about them. I can’t recall how I came across them again, but I picked up the story where I had left off.

I never knew where I was going with it, but scenes came to me one by one in random order. Often I’d wake up early in the morning with a bit of dialogue in my head. I’d play the lines over and over again because I didn’t want to get out of bed and I didn’t want to forget. Then more lines would come and I’d have to get up and write them down.

Later I decided the story was taking place in Taos, New Mexico, because I’ve always liked it there. I surrounded myself with postcards, brochures and magazines that my wife and I had collected on our trips there. And I had an evocative water color by Greg Moon, “La Loma II,” hanging in the studio where I write.

My soundtrack was The Wheel, a deeply moving album by Rosanne Cash.

At first I thought I was writing a short story, but it just kept getting longer. It took me about a year to write the first draft, and two more years to flesh the whole thing out.

I have always been fascinated by the conflicts that come up between the sexes. The mystery of attraction. Gender roles. Power struggles. Trying to find the right balance. Those are the things I tend to come back to again and again in my writing.

Precarious Stories of Love, Sex and Misunderstanding





The stories in Precarious were written over a period of 30 years and they’re all very different, but as it turns out, they’re all about the same thing. Women and men. An endlessly fascinating topic. I suppose I wrote them to figure out how I felt about certain things.

The great thing about short stories is they can make you feel what someone else felt. The better the story, the more subtle and nuanced the feelings. Anyway, that’s what I look for as a reader. The surprise as a writer is how you can make yourself feel things you never felt before or never knew you felt. 

Writers are like actors. We get to play a lot of different roles, try out a range of personalities and live lives very different from our own. 

I wrote these stories to find out what would happen to the characters and how things would turn out for them. I wrote them because I felt like I had some things to say that I couldn’t say any other way.



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