Like any historical fiction author, I'm asked all the time, "Would you want to go back in time and meet your characters?"
Ancient Rome? Marc Antony? Really, I think not. I thoroughly loved writing his tale, but I'm afraid I'd wind up appearing in the Forum and--POOF!--I'd be a slave or forced into living in the Subura. Ugh. However, my current project is in early 19th century America, and I think I could manage a few days there, provided it wasn't during a cholera epidemic. And I'd want a lifeline home, for sure. As much as I love history, I've learned enough of it to convince me I don't want to live there. I imagine that two-hundred years from now, some author will say the same thing about the year 2023.
This week, author Anna Belfrage has written a lovely, amusing blog on Time Travel novels. She has been a frequent guest to my blog page, and I'm so pleased to have her back again. I happen to thoroughly enjoy a well-written time-hop book, and Anna--I, for one, still believe time travel could be possible. At least in my dreams. :)
Read on, everybody!
Why Time Travel?
By: Anna Belfrage
Many years ago, I attended a writer’s conference. I had several one-on-ones booked with agents and one of them gave me a bored look and sat back in his chair. The wood creaked, his shirt strained over his padded torso.
“Why the time travel?” he asked. “What’s the point?”
Huh. I must admit I was taken aback. What sort of question was that? Besides, it could be applied to a lot of genres, IMO. Why Sci-Fi? Why Fantasy? Why all those werewolf and vampire novels? I guess those who write any of the previously mentioned would reply that they write what they love, what intrigues them.
The same goes for me and time travel. The concept is mindboggling, isn’t it? I think all history nerds have had moments of wishing—desperately—that they could travel back to their preferred era and get a glimpse of what it was like IRL. I also believe most of us would not want to time travel without a return ticket. After all, those who know their history are fully aware of the fact that life “back then” wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
These days, I’ve given up on time travel being possible—Stephen Hawkins sort of nailed the lid down on that by pointing out that if time travel were at all to become possible, by now we’d have people from the future visiting us. The sheer circularity in that makes my head ache. After all, the future hasn’t happened yet, so there are no people there to travel back in time, and. . .
In A Rip in the Veil, Alex Lind falls over three centuries back in time to land at the feet of Matthew Graham in 1658. For Matthew, the future has as yet not happened, and yet here she is, this woman who tells him she was born 1976. It makes him itch all over. It also makes him worry that this entrancing woman might be some sort of witch. Not that he is entirely sure he believes in witches, but there is something very, very strange about Alex’s plunge through time. Impossibilities, in Matthew’s world, are either divine miracles or black magic.
I suppose we would all react with a certain wariness were we to come face to face with a time traveler, right? And our first reaction would be incredulity. “Poor sod: he needs help, ASAP.”
One of the benefits of being a writer is that I can indulge myself. I need not be restricted by reality and what is possible, which is why I have Alex falling through time.
“Thanks very much,” Alex says, glaring at me over the huge cauldron in the laundry shed. The air smells of lye, of damp linen and sweaty women.
“Hey, if it hadn’t been for me, you’d not have met Matthew.”
“Maybe I’d have been happy anyway,” she retorts.
“You think?” I shake my head. Content, maybe. Happy, no.
She sighs and rolls her eyes before muttering that maybe I’m right.
Other than wanting to treat myself to some time travelling by proxy, there was another reason why I wanted my female protagonist to be a time traveler. As I told that agent, having a modern protagonist in a historical setting allows for much more commentary. A woman born in the 1630s will not react to the food she eats, the clothes she wears—of course not, as they’re familiar. But having my readers experience the 17th century through a fellow modern woman gives me the opportunity to really submerge them in the past.
Details a woman of the times would not even think of mentioning, Alex most certainly does. Like when she realises that unless she asks—and pays—for clean linen when staying at an inn, she’ll be expected to sleep in the well-used sheets. Also, if she doesn’t pay extra, she’ll likely have to share her bed with someone.
“Mostly me,” Matthew says.
“Yeah, well, I don’t mind sharing with you,” Alex says. “But Mrs Gordon. . .” She groans theatrically. “She snores like a horse!”
Alex also offers me the opportunity to comment on how restricted women were in the 17th century—at least legally. It is my personal opinion that women have often overcome these restrictions by being a powerful mover and shaker behind the scenes—like in their homes. But still: officially, a 17th century woman was chattel, accorded no rights beyond those extended to her by her husband.
Writing a time travel story does not preclude hours and hours of research. To some extent, the research becomes even more important, as it is in the small details—like how the tallow candles leave streaks of soot, or how the rope frame of the bead creaks and groans—that I truly transport my readers to Alex’s new reality.
When I started writing what was to become A Rip in the Veil, I was very much into the history of the times. 1658 is the year Oliver Cromwell died, thereby leaving the Protectorate rudderless. Charles Stuart—soon to be Charles II—now had a window of opportunity to reclaim his kingdom, and he did. My original story centred very much round Matthew, a disillusioned Covenanter who finds it hard to stomach that everything he suffered on behalf of the Commonwealth and the ideals of the Parliamentarians is to be ground to dust under the elegant, high-heeled boot of the returning Stuart monarch.
Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t a bad story, but the moment Alex Lind popped up in my head in tight jeans, a bright red jacket and that mop of short curls, I just knew that somehow she would enhance the story.
“Yup,” she says. “I’m the icing on the cake.”
“My cake,” Matthew says, drawing her close. “My miracle,” he adds in a soft voice, and she blushes.
Absolutely, his miracle. Matthew needed Alex. He needed someone to help him see the shades of grey between the black and the white. Otherwise, dear peeps, he’d have been seriously boring, and who wants a male lead who bores you, hey?
All About the Book
On a muggy August day in 2002 Alex Lind disappears. On an equally stifling August day in 1658, Matthew Graham finds her on a Scottish moor. Life will never be the same for Alex – or for Matthew.
Alexandra Lind is thrown three centuries backwards in time to land at the feet of escaped convict Matthew Graham.
Matthew doesn’t know what to make of this strange woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies—what is she, a witch?
Alex is convinced the tall, gaunt man is some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realises the odd one out is she, not he.
Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with her new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here—and not exactly to extend a helping hand.
Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew, a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. But Matthew comes with baggage of his own and on occasion his past threatens them both. At times Alex finds it all excessively exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.
How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she really want to?
All About Anna
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
Her Castilian Heart is the third in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In the second instalment, The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain. This latest release finds our protagonists back in England—not necessarily any safer than the wilds of Spain!
Anna has also authored The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Find out more about Anna, her books and enjoy her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com
Connect with Anna
BUY THE BOOK!
This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.