The 19th Window is inspired by a stirring incident at ruins in Poland where I found myself solving a mystery of architecture and memory.
As we experience the story, we get to decide the actions of Lydia, our fictional protagonist visiting her grandmother's country of birth for the first time. But follow certain paths and we hit dead ends where the mystery terminates, unsolved. On the surface, these decision points serve as motivators; as readers we have a sense of control. On a deeper level, the decision points and dead ends – following no particular pattern or logic – represent how chance and luck, including bad luck, play a role in our investigation of history.
I was Lydia, once. As a teenager searching for my grandfather's murdered family, I was scared of what might be uncovered. What I found were dead ends, but also unexpected connections to hidden histories.
Yet learning about history isn't enough. We need to explore and question how we've come to remember (and misremember) the past, even when the answers might be frightening or, worse, forever lost.