How you collaborate with the world may help you eventually uncover the central metaphor of a book or project. While working on Violet Isle, the most common creature I found in Cuban menageries was the bird. I love the complex and resonant questions this raises: of all the creatures, why are birds the most popular animal in Cuban menageries? Does this hint at some kind of longing for flight in a country where few people are allowed to travel? Over the years, I’ve learned that the more questions a particular image evokes, the richer the metaphor will ultimately be.