03 June 2007

Time for Travel?

If I could only give one tip to aspiring writers, it would be do not stay awake for forty-eight hours straight before a pitch session. I have done that and wouldn't recommend it, except for one serendipitous occurrence.

During such a pitch, the subject of other stories came up, and an oddly familiar voice (it should have been – it was mine) started talking about a high concept time travel romance. Think Highlander meets "Dancing With the Stars." It was one of those moments when it took time for brain to catch up with mouth, as I hadn't been talking about this story much, but apparently it was time.

Since then, I've killed two entire legal pads, more than one pad of sticky notes, and two pens are on their last dribbles, ready to join the other one I drained dry. There's nothing like a story that comes on full throttle and announces this is its time.

Only with this story, it's two times. My modern day heroine and her sixteenth century hero have a few things to work out besides trust issues, and so did I. The first thing was, where would a five hundred year old guy hang out in modern New York? The immediate answer was, The Cloisters.

That got things rolling. Of course the medieval era is a bit before my sixteenth century hero's time, but there's no reason I can't create a similar museum in my story world to focus on his time. How many times in real life do we history buffs get to give a museum whatever budget we want it to have and fill it with stuff we'd love to get our hands on?

Thankfully, I'm close enough to The Cloisters that I can arrange a few day trips over the summer, and of course the website is a great help.

Though some might argue that time travels are downmarket at the moment, despite the current penchant for paranormal, when the right story comes at the right time, we writers know that's when it's time to go with it, dive in headfirst and charge on through. Those of us interested in unusual historical periods know all about this. People are people, no matter the era, and I've always been interested in treating a time travel as a cultural matter, rather than something metaphysical, scientific or what have you.

Which brings me to the questions for this entry: Do you read/write time travel? Why or why not?

Is time travel paranormal, fantasy, SF, its own animal entirely, or does it read to you like a historical or contemporary, depending on when the HEA occurs?

Do you prefer the couple to end up in the present, the past, or could they straddle both?

If a character from your favorite era found him/herself in modern surroundings, what would they miss most from home, and what would they find most interesting? What would they never "get" about how we live today?

If you could visit your favorite era, what do you think would surprise you the most about it? What do you hope would be exactly as you believe it would be? What one modern thing would you take with you?

What about time travels between historical periods with no modern action at all?

Most importantly, any recommendations?


Camilla said...

I've read a few time-travels in my early romance days but the concept never caught my eye enough to become a dedicated fan of them. I guess I'm just way to analytically minded to go with the mechanics of TT romances since most romance readers don't want anything that reeks of sf/f entering TT romances.

Of course I've read and loved the Outlander series, but the story is successful with me because the focus isn't about Claire adjusting to the 1700s but about the romance between she and Jamie and the historical background of the times she went backwards into.

Sandra Schwab said...

I've read a three or four TT, starting with "Outlander." My favourite TT is definitely Susan Sizemore's "On the Wings of the Storm": heroine goes back to medieval France, but a) she speaks the language bec. she's studied medieval languages, and b) she's a member of -- what do you call it? -- the Anachronistic Society? The people who organize medieval markets and stuff? Still, she has problems fitting in.

The other TT I've read in which the heroine travels back into the Middle Ages did not at all touch upon the subject of language. Moreover, even given a choice, the women were perfectly happy to stay in the Middle Ages with the love of their lives. To stay in the Middle Ages. In the MIDDLE AGES!!! Needless to say, this did not work for me. 18th / 19th century -- fine. But Middle Ages? Nah!

If I could visit my favourite era -- Regency Britain --, I'd probably end up being a scullery maid, knowing my luck. *g* However, if I were lucky and ended up as guest in a nice country estate -- I'd probably find the disconnection from the rest of the world most strange. Sure, you can write letters, but I've become so additcted to the internet and e-mail and what not that it would probably seem very strange. And travelling by coach, I guess that's another thing that sounds awfully nice in theory, but wouldn't be so much fun in reality. In addition, I've got a sneaking suspicion that the men didn't all look as good as Mr. Darcy ... *g*

Camilla said...

I think TT might be on a come-back. In the July issue of RT, there were two or three of them reviewed(and one or two were from major publishers. I don't have the issue beside me. *g*)