Today I’m pleased to welcome to the blog Andy Gavin, author of Untimed and The Darkening Dream! He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me dealing with his new novel Untimed and time travel in general!
Did something inspire you to write Untimed?
Typically, Untimed began from a fusion of ideas. Lingering in my mind for over twenty years was a time travel story about people from the future who fell “downtime” to relive exciting moments in history (until things go wrong). I worked out a time travel system but had no plot or characters. Separately, in 2010, as a break from editing The Darkening Dream, I experimented with new voice techniques, especially first person present. I also read various “competition.” One of these was The Lightning Thief (the first Percy Jackson novel), which has an amazing series concept (if a slightly limp execution). I love mythology and history, and liked the notion of something with a rich body of material to mine. I wanted an open ended high concept that drew on my strengths, which brought me back to time travel.
Some of the mechanics from my earlier concept merged well with a younger protagonist, voiced in a visceral first person present style. I started thinking about it, and his voice popped into my head. I pounded out a chapter not too dissimilar from the first chapter of the final novel. Then the most awesome villain teleported into the situation. I can’t remember how or why, but it happened quickly and spontaneously. Tick-Tocks were born (or forged).
What did you find most challenging about writing Untimed?
With Untimed, the hardest parts had to do with the time travel. First of all, I had to come up with a unique new system that allowed multiple visits to the same time period, but wasn’t too overpowered. If your characters are too powerful, there is no jeopardy. So I had to invent all the restrictions and deal with the issues of paradox (and I think I have a crafty new solution there). Then I had to figure out how to make returning to the SAME action actually interesting for the reader. That was even harder.
If you could live through any historical event, what would it be?
It depends a little on if I had to actually face the dangers involved. Many really exciting events in history are a bit… chaotic, like say the siege of Syracuse where Archimedes used all his crazy devices or Alexander’s battle at the Granicus. I’d also love to see some of the great cities, like Rome under Marcus Aurelius or Constantinople during the reign of Justinian. So many goodies. Definitely the ancient world though.
If you could meet a person out of history, who would you pick?
Alexander the Great. Conquering half the world is just too cool to resist. Plus, he knew how to party.
In Untimed, Charlie can only travel to the past. If you had this ability, is there a time period you would like to live through?
I’d go forward and have myself upgraded into an indestructible cyborg, then I’d go back and explore the past, particularly the ancient Mediterranean. In Untimed, poor Charlie is so busy putting history back together, he doesn’t have a chance to sightsee.
What was the most exciting aspect of writing Untimed?
Untimed’s single first person POV is Charlie, and he was very fun to write. He calls things as he sees them, and given his basic naiveté, that’s pretty funny. We’re inside his head, and nothing is really sacred there. This can also be contrasted with what he does and says, which is sometimes not as bold as he thinks. Dialog-wise, his love interest, Yvaine, is also a blast because she’s incredibly direct and not afraid to work it.
What is the last book that you read?
Life of Pi. I saw the movie, and I just had to find out how faithful it was to the source material, particularly as I’m obsessed with the process of adaption. The book is deeper and its allegorical presentation much clearer, but the film translation is decidedly faithful and effective. Both are great though.
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A big thanks to Andy Gavin for his wonderful answers and also for the opportunity to read his wonderful new novel! I loved Untimed and I definitely think that you will, too! (Plus it’s only $2.99 for Kindle! And Nook!)