Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why a Time Travel Series?

The idea of a time travel series came to me several years ago after reading Stephen King’s 900-plus page novel, 11/22/63.  The protagonist, Jake Epping, finds a “rabbit hole” behind a diner that he slips through to travel back to the late 1950s.  From that point, he assimilates into his new surroundings as he attempts to alter the tragic course of events leading to John Kennedy’s death.

King’s method of time travel is magical more than scientific, with the rules briefly described to Epping by Al Templeton, the diner’s owner.  King doesn’t need to provide much detail on how Epping finds himself years in the past; the story is more about Epping’s journey to prevent the JFK’s assassination than it is about time travel.   

In the Miles Stevens series, which includes MELTING SAND and the soon to be released CYBER ONE, Miles and his CIA partners are sent back in time from Department of Historic Intervention (DHI) headquarters in Langley, Virginia.  The DHI uses an actual time machine, with the CIA agents and their possessions being fractured into subatomic particles and shot at multiples of light speed through time to predetermined destinations. The year is 2050, a time chosen for when time travel might actually be possible.

I like King’s premise of going back in time to alter a tragedy, thereby changing the course of history, but I don’t want to write about actual tragedies. Doing so would bring real people into the context of the story, along with real loss and real feelings.  Plus, historic fiction is something I just don’t feel comfortable writing. I don’t have King’s resources to accurately research the actual events leading to epic tragedies.

So I did the next best thing.  I invented disasters yet to occur, those feared as possible, and placed them on the time horizon between today and 2050.  Thirty-five years and the possibility of time travel give me incredible latitude as a fiction writer in subject matter, plots, and outcomes.

In MELTING SAND, it’s a Middle East nuclear war that has Miles Stevens and his partner Terri King propelled back to 2028.  In CYBER ONE, it’s an apocalyptic cyberattack targeting U.S. electrical grids that has Miles and his new team sent further back to 2020 to chase down the source of the attacks.

I think time travel provides a great foundation for an action/adventure series.  The possibilities are endless. Miles’ subatomic particles could travel just about anywhere for any number of disasters yet to occur.  He’s already tackled a nuclear war and an apocalyptic cyberattack.  What's next? 

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