Form as Message, a guest post by Amanda Rawson Hill

When I first started thinking about the premise for The Hope of Elephants, I had a very specific image in my head. Two identical girls running into a hospital room where they converge into one person sitting in the hospital bed as her blood is drawn. This image came from the recent revelation that my niece had a mutated TP53 gene, meaning she had Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, a genetic condition that leads to very high chances of frequent cancers throughout life.

I wanted to write a story exploring the idea of ​​discovering that you have two possible futures. One the way you always pictured it and the other haunted by cancer. But how should I do it? At first, my thoughts went to something a bit more speculative and sliding doors-esque. Dual narratives? Seeing into the future? But as the voice of the main character started talking to me, I had to take a step back. Because she was speaking in free-verse.