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? 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Meet Miles Stevens

Meet Miles Stevens, the lead character in MELTING SAND and CYBER ONE. 

A 37-year-old, time traveling, CIA counterintelligence agent working for the Department of Historic Intervention (DHI), Gerald Miles Stevens is just north of six-foot tall, with sandy brown hair, dark blue eyes, and a chiseled, athletic physique.  The DHI is a futuristic division of the CIA, formed in 2050, with a mission sending agents back in time to alter tragic events in history.  Miles and the DHI call Langley, Virginia home.  

Miles joined the DHI after graduating from Yale and serving one term as the youngest state senator ever to serve the state of Florida.  His decision to get out of politics was prompted by the loss of his wife and only child in a tragic auto accident.  Seeking an escape from his horrific present, traveling years into the past seemed a good option.  When the president tells him of the newly formed, classified department within the CIA, he immediately signs up.

In MELTING SAND, Miles’ DHI handler, Dr. Robert Jones, assigns Miles to one of the first time travel missions along with Dr. Terri King.  Miles isn’t a ladies’ man, but he recognizes a beautiful woman when he sees one.  He’s even more impressed when the beautiful woman is self-assured, intelligent, and slow to warm up to him.  Terri King is such a woman.   They become more than partners when they are sent back to 2028 to alter the complex course of events leading to a Middle East nuclear war.  

I won’t spoil how MELTING SAND ends, but will share that Miles remains committed to Terri, even as Dr. Jones sends him on his next mission in CYBER ONE.  Longing to be reunited with Terri, Miles is joined by a new team and is sent to 2020 to avert a devastating cyberattack launched by unknown international terrorists, targeting the electrical grids of major U.S. cities. 

In CYBER ONE, Miles continues as a confident, risk-taking, gun-toting, counterintelligence agent, but finds himself a duck out of water in the world of high-tech espionage.  As he focuses on conventional CI tactics to chase down suspects, his team of computer experts sort through binary fingerprints left by the terrorists to help guide his journey.  

Oh, yeah.  There’s also a mysterious, dark-haired, black-eyed female protagonist in CYBER ONE with her eyes on Miles.  All I can say is good luck to her.

I hope you check out the Miles Stevens series and get to know him better.    


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tales to Tell

I take my dog on a walk most every morning. The path is always the same--out the front door, down a power line path, and then we cut into the woods before emerging onto a road leading back to the house.  It’s about a mile end-to-end, but with a young dog, sniffing every foreign object and eating many of them, it takes more than 30 minutes. 

We pass a huge pine tree in the thickest part of the woods.  It’s approaching 80-feet tall, with the lower branches bare and spiked, green needles only at its peak where it reaches for sunlight.  The tree appears supernatural, so this portion of the woods has been tagged “the enchanted forest.”  I’ve wondered how a lone tree emerges among the thousands of others, growing to such grand proportions.  Is it just a matter of surviving longer than the rest, or was its size genetically determined centuries ago? 

I can only imagine what this craggy, aged conifer has witnessed over the years, possibly even providing a resting place for the early settlers of North Carolina as they made their way over the Blue Ridge Mountains.  If it were only possible to extract thoughts from its fibrous memory, what tales it might tell.

I’m similar to this tree in some ways.  I’m past my prime, deeply rooted in my ways, and slow to give way to younger seedlings.  I’ve also been around long enough to have seen and heard more than most.  There are thousands of stories bottled up within me, too.

I’ll continue to pause and study the tree on my walks.  Its presence and persistence are motivating.  We have much more to share.