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Interview with James Paddock, author of The Time Travel series


Tell us about the Time Travel series.
Before Anne After – The year is 1987. Anne, in her last trimester, unknowingly steps into a time-travel chamber and awakens in a 1943 Charleston Navy Shipyard barracks, in labor. The sailors in the barracks, the nurses at Roper Hospital and the sights of 1943 Charleston, South Carolina lead her to believe she has gone crazy, that what she remembers is a futuristic society she is making up in her head. Is she a physic, a fore-teller of the future or just plain loony? And where is her husband? If not for her newborn baby and a Charleston police officer, she would certainly have checked herself into the funny farm. Her doctor, alias German spy, learns before she does that she is not only a time-traveler, but a highly educated woman in the field of nuclear science and World War II history.

The days, weeks and then months drag on as Anne attempts to deal with the craziness in her head. Then, thanks to a common thief, the truth presents itself and Anne comes to the realization that she has jumped back 44 years, and concludes she has done so for a purpose. Does it have to do with Adolf Hitler, or the Philadelphia Experiment, or a possible meeting with Robert Oppenheimer, the Scientific Director of the Manhattan Project? Whatever it is, she is certain there is a reason and she will not be able to return home until it is accomplished.

Time Will Tell– The year is 2007. Annie seldom thinks about her age, certainly never talks about that summer in 1943 when her mother birthed her, about the fact that her mother died that same year, or that it might have been in 1987–there was no way of knowing for sure–or about the fact that after 64 years she had yet to observe her 20th birthday. Already an Iraq War widow, Annie Caschetta must escape the oppressiveness around her and all the memories of her husband. With the semester over at MIT and the dreaded summer looming upon her, she escapes to a cabin near Glacier National Park where she can sort through her thoughts and memories. However, it is her final, regrettable words during her last few moments with her husband that follow her and continue to haunt her. It is those words which she knows must be fixed, must be unsaid, if she is ever to have a real life again. If only she had a wormhole.

What genre is it?
Before Anne After is not a traditional science fiction, nor is it a traditional war story or fantasy. In a way it is a love story that takes the readers on a science fiction journey down a wormhole, keeping them on the edge of their seats with twists and turns that will leave them breathless from chapter to chapter. Will Anne Waring ever get her and her infant daughter, Elizabeth Anne, home to her husband, or will she remain trapped in history with the shy and protective Charleston police officer who has fallen in love with her?

Time Will Tell, again, fits no particular genre. It is science fiction for the time-travel aspect, suspense because it is definitely suspenseful, romantic but does not follow a formula. Will Annie find romance in the guy she meets in Montana or will her regrettable words to her husband haunt her for the rest of her life? Can she figure out how to use the wormhole presented to her to fix her terrible words?

One reader called the series a fantasy. I’m not so sure I could stretch it that far. The series from mother to daughter is simply two great stories, linked through family and a couple of wormholes.

What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Before Anne After and Time Will Tell would appeal to folks who like stories about people and the predicaments they get into and in a small part some of the evil they are thrown up against. Except for the time-travel aspect these are very real situations. This time-travel series is about people, not about the technology, though I feel the system I developed, made up of real and fictionalized physics, is believable. In Before Anne After, Anne Waring is thrown into a situation where she finds herself in a foreign land within her own country, giving birth to her baby a month earlier than expected. Confused and lost she must make best of what she has, except that her life as she thought she knew it is gone, that she is maybe psychic, can predict events of the Second World War, knows of things yet to come. Does she give up on her husband and father of her child and accept the police officer who obviously has fallen in love with her, who would lay down his life for her?

In Time Will Tell the young Annie Caschetta has lost her husband in Iraq and is struggling with putting her life back on track. She escapes to Montana where she meets a guy, but is continuously faced with not only memories of Tony but also with guilt over destructive words she flung at him in their last moments together. Before she can move forward with a new life, with a new relationship, she must find a way to unsay those words. Readers of Time Will Tell will be surprised by some the twists that take place. In both of the books in the Time-Travel Series, one cannot assume anything. Readers who like suspense and surprises will enjoy this series.

Complete this sentence for us: If you like ___________, you’ll love the Time Travel series.
Time travel has been handled in so many different ways it is hard to pick one that says, this is the one that is like mine. The most famous, I’m sure, is The Time Machine by HG Wells. Then there is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. From authors who are still alive consider The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger or Making History by Stephen Fry. My wife even made reference to Time and Again by Nora Roberts and Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. The list can go on and on. I still cannot say for certain that liking any of those just mentioned would automatically transfer to my time-travel series. If you like time-travel, the complexities involved in possibly changing history, taking the life, or maybe, saving the life of your own grandfather, Before Anne After is for you. If you like time-travel at the more personal level, that is affecting your immediate family or friends, then Time Will Tell is for you. If you wish to experience a unique way of slipping through a wormhole and how it affects your physical being and the materials around you, the entire Time Travel series is for you.

Will there be a third Time Travel novel?
That is a most definite maybe. The big question is, where would I go with it? Those who have read Time Will Tell know how it ends and might suspect that I left a dangling thread, or maybe an entire rope. I’m sure that readers of Before Anne After picked up the sequel with certain expectations of where the story would go and I am quite certain they were very surprised, pleasantly so, I hope. I don’t do the expected, so if there should be a third it will go in a direction even this author won’t see coming.

I would imagine that two of the great joys in writing time travel fiction is placing your characters in the middle of huge historical events and highlighting just how much the world has changed/stayed the same.
That’s for sure in Before Anne After. World War Two is certainly a huge historical event and Anne gets placed in a situation where she may or may not affect how the war will progress and ultimately end. As an author it sat me back thinking about the big what-ifs. What if one could go back and change something, whether it be the defeat of Hitler or Japan, or something as simple as averting an accident which would cause a ripple of change around the world? What would our life be like today? Imagine a Back to the Future scenario.

If you could go back in time and replot, rewrite or re-edit one of your novels, which would it be and why?
There is no “IF” here because it’s already been done. Don’t get excited. No, I didn’t time-travel back and rewrite Before Anne After, though if I could I would…maybe. I was rather pleased as a new writer a decade ago when I put forth the first book of the time-travel series. Over the following years I gradually began to realize how “not ready” it was. In preparation for releasing it to Amazon’s Kindle in 2011, I spent several months re-editing it for grammar and tightness, cutting nearly 10,000 words. Certainly, it would have been so much better to have done it right the first time, but going back would not be unlike a parent instructing a child. Sometimes the child learns better by making his own mistakes. I, as a writer, learned my craft by making my own mistakes. We often learn much better by experience.

So, to answer the question, would I go back and rewrite any of my novels, I have to consider this? Annie Caschetta, in her grief in Time Will Tell, faced a similar dilemma when she was presented with a time-travel machine, at her full disposal. What kind of history would she be altering if she traveled back to save her husband from driving over that IED in Iraq? What about to simply go back and unsay those terrible words in their final parting? Would it be possible for me to travel back to correct my newby mistakes and rob myself of my own growth as a writer?

Does being a writer ruin reading for you? Do you find yourself thinking how you would have written scenes differently when reading other writers’ work? Is reading always work and never pleasure any longer?
That is a great set of questions. Ruined reading for me? No. Changed how I read. Most definitely. I used to read very limited genres, Dean Koontz, Stephen King and the like. Now I read almost everything from Ernest Hemingway to the newest newby because it is from all the different genres and experience levels that I learn. When I read something from a fresh, new author I will often get stopped because a scene doesn’t work for me and I’ll think through how I would do it differently. Sometimes that’s frustrating, sometimes it is not. When reading seasoned authors I find myself trying to reverse engineer a scene or description to determine how they made it work so well. In both cases I’m honing my own craft. I write because it is what I enjoy doing, so reading, no matter the genre or experience level, is always a pleasure.

What do you do to market your books? Do you use social media?
Social media is a giant word-of-mouth operation and any business will tell you how important word-of-mouth is. There just simply isn’t any better bang for your buck, to excuse the idiom. Try getting a billboard or ad in a magazine, buying Google ad words, or purchasing ad space on a number of websites… you know, that column on the right that everyone ignores. Print up a thousand business cards, flyers, and bookmarks and see how far that gets you. Ever try purchasing a thousand print copies of your paperback and selling them out of the trunk of your car? How about, instead, we give one electronic copy to Amazon or Nook or Smashwords, or all three, and then publish the link to every reader in the world along with a short elevator presentation–140 characters or less, of course.

Yes, I have a big presence on Twitter (@JamesWriter) and struggle with holding my own on Facebook, Goodreads, Linkedin, Pinterest and Shelfari. There may be a few more I’ve forgotten. 90+% of my marketing is social media, word-of-mouth through the keyboard and touchpad. The remaining 10% is doing an occasional local book signing or book fair and handing out business cards and bookmarks.

Another time travel question for you: If you could go back in time, what year and place would you go to and why?
I’d want to go back to key events and observe from a safe perch without changing history, because we all know what happens when you change history.

Seriously, I’ve been asked this question a number of times and recently have not been able to get past a very selfish answer. I’d go back to January of this year and tell my stepson not to go on the snowmobile ride in which he lost his life, leaving behind a grieving wife, son and mother. That is the only travel back I’d consider because his death still rests heavy in our hearts.

Our condolences. We’re really sorry to hear that. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am an Indie Author and avid reader; love reading new Indie Authors. As an author I claim no particular genre, though I lean toward light SciFi and a bit abnormal (vs paranormal), though I am currently working on my first mystery. POD published my first some 10 years ago and then went digital in 2011 with all 8 of my titles under the publishing shingle, Desert Bookshelf Publishing.

I grew up in the Big Sky Country of Montana, where, it may be noticed, many of my novels take place. Shortly after high school graduation I departed Montana to see the world, via the U.S. Navy. A career and family later, I started a second career in photography, opening a 1-hour photo in North Charleston, South Carolina. The decade beyond that I began my third career, in desktop publishing and graphic design, from which I retired in 2011. It was during this time that I began developing my fourth, and I hope, final career as a novelist. Now retired from the daily hassles, I live with my wife in Southern Arizona amongst the heat and prickly cactus.

Have you got a site where readers can keep up with your work?
You can find me at Desert Bookshelf Publishing.

Where can we buy the Time Travel novels?
A great jumping off point is my publishing website, From there readers can select any of 8 titles in their preferred eBook format, i.e., Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. For those who still prefer the more traditional way of reading, ink on real paper, all of the titles can be purchased directly from Desert Bookshelf as a high quality trade paperback.

What’s next?
Having relocated from Montana to Southern Arizona about six years ago I figured it was time to build a few local characters and try my hand at a Tucson, Arizona mystery. I am 30-40% into a story in which an ex-cop private investigator with relationship issues gets framed for murder. I have secret hopes that this will turn into a series. Dare not say more.

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One Comment

  1. Inez

    physic? – psychic! / fore-teller – foreteller

    Condolences for your stepson…

    I like the title, Before Anne After. Interesting story. Best to you in the future. How about Anne in a “future travel”? :)

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