For a while before I wrote "Express to Paris by Dragon First Class", I'd wanted to try depicting an entire lifetime in a piece of flash fiction. This desire wasn't specific enough to generate a story, though. The particular structure I had in mind required a singular character with a singular desire that could carry over a lifetime, informing every stage of the character's life.
Such a character -- Jima -- finally came to me one evening while my flight taxied to the runway at LaGuardia. I'd been reading about pilots and their peculiar seniority rules, and I looked out the porthole and saw the pale shapes of jetliners slumbering in the gloom. I wondered immediately what it would be like if 737s had unions.
The step to dragons followed naturally. Better yet -- dragons working side by side with 737s, and forced aside by them eventually. I hoped this setup would not only have poignancy in and of itself, but would also resonate with readers who have spent any length of time working in our increasingly mechanized world.
In the end, though, I wrote this story because I fell in love with Jima and her dream. I'm still rooting for her.