I love writing time travel books. Who knew? It happened entirely accidentally. I was writing what was supposed to be the last of my Companion vampire series, ONE WITH THE NIGHT, when I was ambushed.
There was a character I loved from ONE WITH THE SHADOWS, Donatella. She never made her one true love vampire back in Caligula’s Rome, (vampires live a really long time!) so they could share the ages together. Regret poisoned her life. So I decided to give her a chance to go back and try again. Who doesn’t wish they could do that occasionally? Thus was born Leonardo DaVinci’s marvelous time machine. I got addicted to writing time travel books.
What’s so much fun? First, you get to pick an entirely new time, and go research what it was like: Barbarian slaves in Rome (yum!), mysterious dukes in the French Revolution, Dark Age Britain, Camelot…. You get the picture. All of history is your toy box and you get to travel to a different world every time. Next, there’s the “fish-out-of-water” aspect. Somebody has got to be from the wrong time and trying to deal with a strange set of customs or maybe an unfamiliar language, that frames their own beliefs and experiences in a new light. That’s always good. One of my favorite stories as a kid was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. And who didn’t like Kate and Leopold? Finally, there are the time travel conundrums. Can you change events? What happens if you do? Boy, this one is hard to work through as a writer.
Writing time travel books is hard, but that’s also what keeps it interesting. I live with a book for about nine months (that’s just coincidental, but the analogy is there), so it better keep my interest.
My editor and I both had so much fun with Donnatella and her barbarian slave, Jergan, in ONE WITH THE DARKNESS that she suggested that I do a time travel series revolving around Leonardo’s marvelous machine. Thus Frankie, a modern day bartender, goes back to her French Duke in TIME FOR ETERNITY, and most recently, Lucy accidentally brings back a wounded Viking warrior, Galen, who might or might not be magic, to San Francisco in A TWIST IN TIME.
TWIST IN TIME was especially satisfying. I got to play with a fiercely intelligent and surprisingly vulnerable Viking, who doesn’t understand how to use his strength in the modern world, along with a timid bookseller suddenly saddled with a very difficult alpha guy she must conceal. Of course, there are some pretty shady people who would love to get their hands on that time machine, and Galen and Lucy find themselves on the run. How would they communicate? Well, you’d be surprised how much Old English you’d understand, if you got to ignore the spelling. The spine of our language hasn’t changed much in more than a thousand years, so we have all the simple words in common. That was certainly fun to write. And of course, some things about the relations between a man and a woman haven’t changed at all, especially if she’s the one who knows how the modern world works, and he sometimes, (gasp!) has to follow her lead. I had loads of fun with that. I think you might too. And of course, only together can they use the magic inherent in all of us to change the world for the better. I liked that part too.
So what’s next on the time travel front? Well, Mark Twain still inspires me. In THE MISTS OF TIME, out August 31 this year, it’s Camelot that beckons. Not the pretty Camelot with pennants flying from medieval towers—this is the Camelot of 480 A.D., a little grittier, with more magic and quite a bit less chivalry. A romance writer with no past goes back in time to find romance in Camelot, bringing back to modern San Francisco accidentally a man who can destroy all she knows and loves. Almost as bad, the man who has been stalking her for weeks turns out to have the same name as the hero in the book about Camelot she can’t quite write. When Diana Dearborn comes into contact with the “parfait knight” Gareth, he’s a lot more complicated than she imagined. And they have to fix history in order to start their own history together….
So, enjoy with me, the books I so enjoyed writing. Time travel books are enjoying a bit of a Renaissance, so I’m not alone in liking to write them… Do you like to read them? I’d love to hear some of your favorites…
Two lucky people who comment will a copy of A TWIST IN TIME.