What If

The novelist's central question.

Sep 22, 2018

Weddings bring out the best and the worst in families. When my friends’ daughter got married, they braced for the worst. Theirs was an oft-married family, as was the groom’s. Into the church day the older generation—on both sides—entered with their respective, several exes, new partners, spouses with children of their own, and many divorces, some more rancorous than others. There were thorny problems of who-should-sit-where, and testy questions of who-should-be-part-of-what. In short, both families arrived at the church trailing a gaggle of in-laws, assorted step-families, and old, still-festering acrimonies. Disaster loomed.

But disaster never happened. All these sets of steps and exes, spouses and motley partners came together in a spirit of celebration, and love for the bride and groom.  Everyone made certain that this young couple’s wedding was in no way marred by old animosities. People, some of whom had not spoken in fifteen years, were wonderfully cordial, not just civil, but warm, cheerful (except perhaps for a few old, glowering grannies).  I was genuinely impressed with the generosity that pervaded that lovely day.

But I am a novelist, after all, and as I drove home, I mulled over the novelist’s central question: what if?  What could have possibly gone wrong? Thus was born Steps and Exes.


  1. Carol Kane

    Nearly 20 years ago,I stumbled upon STEPS AND EXES in a used book store. I read the back cover description and decided, yes, I would give these characters a chance to enter my life . I loved this story. I have recommended it over the years. I have since bought several of your other books.
    Today, on one of the sunny last days of July here in the Northwest , I found myself without a book at hand to read. I went to my book shelf and scanned for a previously read story, STEPS AND EXES, made the cut.
    Sitting in my back yard rocker, drinking my morning cup of coffee and re-reading this story, I thought I wanted to say Thank you.
    So Thank you!

    • Laura Kalpakian

      How lovely to find yr note, years after this blogpost appeared and with regard to STEPS AND EXES. I’m glad the book and the characters have continued to delight you!


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laura kalpakian
Fair Augusto & Other Stories

Fair Augusto has been reprinted by Paint Creek Press and is available on June 20th 2023.

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