I’m at a beautiful moment. The first day of work on a new manuscript when the words have yet to take shape. At this moment, the book can be anything—a love story, a puzzle, an exploration of xenophobia in our world, or all these things combined. With Rachel and Esa, that’s usually how things turn out. I begin with one story in mind and other stories intrude, eager to make themselves heard. The research I’ve been compiling over the past year lends itself to three different projects—a Khattak/Getty novel, a work of literary fiction, or a television script. Each suggests intriguing possibilities. I am faced with the dilemma of what to write next—and to escape the rigor of producing a manuscript on deadline, I often long to write anything other than the book at hand. I conquer this by returning to the things I love about writing Rachel and Esa. He’s complicated, thorny, surprisingly sensitive and needlessly mysterious. She’s bold, clever, easily wounded, and searching for a place of refuge. They strike sparks off each other. They continually teach each other—and me—the value of empathy. So I’m asking myself what road I should send them down this time. The themes I’ve masked in the last five Khattak/Getty stories—should I bring them out into the light—without ambiguity? Even though I love ambiguity and thrive on resolutions that leave things unresolved? It could be time for Esa to face head-on the conflict between who he is and what he does. And it may just be time for Rachel to stand on her own--without him. This is what I say on the first day. But I know it will be different on the last.