Friday, May 29, 2009

A warm welcome to author L.A. Mitchell

Thanks for the interview, Laura! You bring up some great points and useful information concerning the genre.
First, could you introduce yourself and talk about your work? What time-travel fiction have you written or are in the process of writing?
Sure. I write paranormal romance with a heavy emphasis on the time travel aspect of the sub-genre. When my novels spill over the boundaries of the romance genre, I call them Time Thrillers. I'm a huge fan of the romance authors who've tackled time travel before me (Jude Devereaux, Johanna Lindsey, Lynn Kurland) where swords and medallions and tripping over an oak root will catapult characters into another time, but I approach stories from a time-manipulation viewpoint. Scientists have only recently discovered that our universe is comprised of a mind-blowing forty-two orders of magnitude that have opened up plausible theories about parallel universes and the way we mark our passage in space and time. Advancements in brain research suggest that the enormous under-utilized portion of our brain could hide secrets to the manipulation of our environment. My stories explore those gray areas of possibility and how they intersect with the one thing science will never be able to manufacture: love.
Until Midnight, my 2007 and 2009 RWA Golden Heart award-nominated novel, is a time-thriller in which a soldier-turned-assassin has twenty-four hours to destroy a time travel serum, rescue the scientist who created it and discover the truth about the past before his reality dissolves into yesterday.
The story's reverse narrative structure allows the reader to experience the hero's disconnect from his world on his quest to find the moment the deadly chain of events began. Each day the hero travels backward in time, he falls more in love with the heroine, but to her, he's a stranger. It's a strong emotional barrier that presented a unique challenge.
I just completed The Night Caller, a time travel romance in which a detective takes refuge in a Victorian house his grandfather left him, a self-imposed exile to atone for fourteen hostages who died during a negotiation gone wrong. Under threat of an eminent domain takeover and mounting agoraphobia on the heels of his mother's mental illness, he receives a mysterious call from a woman through the dusty shell of an antique crank phone. Her time is 1881; her fate is death at the hands of a railroad photographer-turned serial killer. His struggle is an outward and inward journey to change the past.
What are your favorite time destinations and why?
In history, I gravitate to 18th century American history because I've taught it, researched it and it's the time frame I'm most comfortable with. That said, any time frame the story dictates, I'm more than happy to jump into research. That includes scientist's projections of our future technology.
Where is your work available?
My short story, "The Lost Highway", is available in the Love, Texas Style anthology published by The Wild Rose Press. Amazon and Fictionwise both carry it, too. The story is the glimpse of a man at a crossroads in his life who meets a beautiful woman on a desolate Texas highway. Her pristine 1959 Thunderbird, her matronly dress and her optimism conspire to place her firmly out of touch with reality. In a race against the clock to reconnect with an old love, he discovers the captivating stranger has driven straight out of her own time and into the abandoned shell of his heart.
What got you interested in the genre? For how long have you been a fan, and who are your favorite authors of time-travel fiction?
I've loved time travel stories since Madeline L'Engel's A Wrinkle in Time. In high school, my best friend and I must have watched Somewhere in Time at least a dozen times. Later, when the idea for Until Midnight came after watching an X-files rerun, it seemed a natural fit and all my ideas seem to channel that direction. I like Richard Heinlein's classic sci-fi exploration of time travel all the way to contemporary works like Audrey Niffenigger's The Time Traveler's Wife, Mike Resnick's "Travels With My Cats", and Seldon Edwards's The Little Book.

What mechanisms do you use for time-travel? Do they vary from story to story?
They definitely vary. Time travel holds infinite possibilities, so no two of my stories ever explore the same aspect of it. In the sequel for Until Midnight, the heroine experiences the memories of others first-hand, a virtual sort of time travel. I use physical manifestations like wormholes and portals and also incorporate the human mind as a vehicle for time manipulation.

What type of research do you do for the genre? Where do you find your sources?
Scientific texts are notoriously dry, but even physicists like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking were able to make hard-to-understand concepts accessible. My favorite recent find is Michio Kaku, whose Physics of the Impossible is a national bestseller. That book alone has given me more story ideas than I could ever explore in a lifetime. Its phenomenal success speaks to our fundamental desire to understand our world, especially in uncertain times. I love Scientific American and other science journals, too.
Thank you so much for having me.
Okay, those who leave a comment over the next week will be entered in a drawing for a free print copy of Love, Texas Style.


the walking man said...

Is there a lot of kissing in the stories, cowboys only really mean it when they kiss their horse (or motorcycle).

Seriously though time travel is one of the few genres of fiction I don't think could ever be overworked, the possibilities for situation and scenery speculation are nigh on endless.

So if no one else finds the link do I win? ha ha ha ha ha

Sandra Ferguson said...

As usual, another perfect post. Time travel seems to fit your writing style. Perhaps your a Buddist at heart and this is simply another life for you.

Can't wait for Until Midnight to be snapped up by an editor then I can have my own hard-copy.

Susan Macatee said...

Sounds like you've got some great stories! I love time travels and love to explore all sorts of possibilities. Besides, they're just so much fun to read!

Helen Hardt said...

I really enjoyed this post! I agree, there are infinite possibilities for time travel stories. I enjoy reading the genre, though I've never tried writing it myself. I'll never say never, though. The whole concept fascinates me. I'm a huge fan of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. I look forward to exploring your work ;).


Mary Ricksen said...

Great Interview. The Night Caller sounds like a book I would totally enjoy. I am addicted to time travel novels. I find your approach to time travel unique and of great appeal. And I look forward to reading it and all your other published or to be published stories!

Charles Gramlich said...

I've not read a lot of time travel stuff. I did always enjoy Poul Anderson's annals of the Time patrol stories.

L.A. Mitchell said...

walkingman...then they haven't found the right woman, yet ;)

Sandra...thank you so much.

Susan...There will never be a shortage of plot ideas, that's for sure. Thanks for commenting., too! I was so relieved to learn he was still with us. The thought of losing such genius is disheartening.

Mary...good to meet you and thanks so much for the kind words.

Charles...I hadn't heard of these. Now I've added them to my list. I love to dip back into classic science fiction and literature. Look what happened when Hollywood looked to F. Scott Fitzgerald for his Benjamin Button short story. It's everywhere and I love it :)

Vesper said...

Thank you for a great interview! I very much enjoyed finding out more about L.A.'s stories.
Time travel is one of my favourite topics and "Somewhere in Time" was one of my favourite movies.

Barbara Martin said...

The Night Caller sounds just like a book I would love to read. Looking forward to it, L.A.

The human mind is capable of many things that has only been briefly touched on by scientists.

Excellent post.

L.A. Mitchell said...

Congratulations, Barbara, for winning a copy of Love, Texas Style!

Thank you, Lara, for having me. It was such a pleasure!

Barbara Martin said...

Wow, I never expected to win, L.A., but thank you very much.