I've been doing a lot of editing lately, trawling through old stories I've written and attempting to salvage the ones I'd previously shoved to the bottom of The Pile (every writer, I think, has a heap called The Pile – be it on the desk or in a drawer or on a hard drive - where forsaken fiction slumbers, awaiting the day when it will be showered with the attention it deserves). Burying myself once more in tales I'd forgotten, I realised quite quickly that one theme in particular seems to pop up with alarming regularity. Sometimes it's the rock on which the whole edifice has been constructed, other times it's more elusive, buried so deep in the text that I think I'm probably the only person who knows it's there: Loss, and the psychological consequences of such, tends to dominate: most of my protagonists have been scarred by the removal of someone close, provoking an inner turmoil which tends to lead to even more privation or utter self-destruction. Happy endings, I've noticed, occur very rarely. On a world-building scale, impermanence conquers all, be it a galactic empire or a backwoods kingdom: decay constantly encroaches, much as it does in real life, and the implication is always that, no matter what the heroes achieve, all will be reduced to dust and forgotten. Life experience has obviously made some kind of imprint on my psyche, as none of this was the product of conscious decision-making, so the question is: 'what informs your fiction?' Do you have one particular theme you return to, using it to underpin your fiction, or am I just stuck in a psychic rut? Do tell.