A group of fellow steampunk authors have been Tagged by Time Travel, posting about Time Travelling Through Books and A Moment in Time. I was tagged by Jack Tyler, author of Beyond the Rails. I’ll try not to answer every question with a Doctor Who reference (as it is a tv show, though I do own many of the original Target Doctor Who book series). So here they are: my answers to that Bookish Time Travel Blog Post.
What is your favorite historical setting for a book?
I suppose it’s currently the Victorian era. This is the closest time period to my current fascination and writing: steampunk. It was a time of wonder, with the excitement of new discoveries and exploration of the ‘unknown’. There were new possibilities and hope for the future. It is interesting to see how other authors interpret and re-imagine history, or their alternate version of it, in their own stories based in the nineteenth century. Look at Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series for example.
What writers would you like to travel back in time to meet?
Where do I start?
H G Wells had amazing ideas, ahead of his time. He was a pioneer of science fiction and inspiration for steampunk writers. I would love to talk ideas and tap into his imagination.
Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie had devious minds, weaving small details into captivating mysteries. Both were prominent writers of their own time, with their writing still captivating us today.
JRR Tolkien: Just to chat to him about world building, language creation and classic story telling. I would also love to discuss ecology and environmental issues with him.
What books would you travel back in time and give to your younger self?
This was easy. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This book reminds me to laugh, to look for the ridiculous or humour in any situation, particularly a difficult or stressful one (and what could be more stressful than having your home planet blown up!) Sometimes I have to forget to fall and maybe, just maybe, I’ll discover how to fly.
What book would you travel forward in time and give your older self?
Again Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, especially if I’ve become too grumpy. Or perhaps The Princess Bride, to remind me that stories can have happy endings? If I tried giving myself something to teach me an important life lesson, I would consider my younger self a bit of a twat, or probably just ignore myself.
What is your favorite futuristic setting for a book?
I’m right off future dystopian books. It’s just too depressing to contemplate such a bleak future. Reality provides enough for us to deal with at the moment. I need more hope than this genre can provide. Perhaps Star Trek, where there is equality of the sexes, and opportunities for everyone based on their skills, not just their social rank, lack of melanin or bank balance? (I really want to say something here about The Doctor being there to save the day but I promised I wouldn’t.)
Most of my favourite books are fantasy, set in alternate worlds and not technically a different time period. Many are quasi-medieval or occasionally Victorian. I loved the Forgotten Realms series (from my D&D roots). One of my all-time favourite books is Simon Green’s Blue Moon Rising. It is my comfy go-to book where all ends well for the good guys and the bad guys get their come-uppance. Then there’s Sherlock Holmes, with its quasi-supernatural stories with a gaslamp flavour, where intelligence wins out in the end.
Spoiler Time: Do you ever skip ahead to the end of a book to see what happens?
Yes, sometimes, if the book is dragging or a little depressing. I want to see if it’s worth me persevering. For me the reader should be rewarded with a suitable ending and the end should be worthy the journey.
If you had a Time Turner, where would you go and what would you do?
Going back has too many dangers, too many opportunities to screw up the timeline. Some may be tempted to try to change the past, but I would not be who I am now, or where I am now, if I changed my own history. However… I would consider returning to 1996-7, when I started writing seriously, and convince myself not to listen to certain people and not to give up and wait twenty years to try again. (Argh, all those wasted potential books!) Surely that wouldn’t screw up the timeline too much?
If I don’t count a certain English SF series involving time travel, then it has to be The Time Machine by H G Wells. I first read this in my early twenties. The message is clear: you can’t change certain events or wish they never occurred. Life happens. Life’s messy. We have to deal with whatever situations confront us and live with the consequences. Or at least try to. I have to remind myself of this when I am dealing with anxiety.
If only there was a compassionate man in a blue box…
I loved Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – the first two fantasy books given to me by the school librarian who was trying to broaden my horizons beyond murder mysteries (I was a big fan of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh). I still enjoy reading them, but there isn’t the same wonder of that first discovery.
Inviting others to play along.
I’m not entirely sure about this bit. Most of the steampunk group have already been tagged. So I’m going to widen my net, with some authors outside my genre. It will be interesting to hear what they think of this exercise coming out of the blue, as it were. So here’s a shout out to:
Please tag me in your post or comment here if you (or anyone else) want to take up the challenge, so I can read your answers.