Thursday, October 25, 2012

Maybe the Trains Tour: Guest Post

The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains by Rodney Jones

Summary: What would it take to convince you that the woods you just left is a hundred and forty-four years distant from the one you entered?

Ten years have passed since the Civil War broke up John Bartley’s family. Living with his aunt and uncle in the tiny village of Greendale, Vermont, isn’t filled with excitement for a seventeenyear-old.

Until John walks into the woods one day and stumbles into 2009…

Fortunately, he chances upon the outspoken Tess McKinnon. To earn her trust, he must first
convince her that he is neither a lunatic nor a liar. The proof he needs is buried at the end of a
mountain road, where the ruins of Greendale lie just beneath a layer of dead leaves and moss.
What became of his home? Why is there no record of its existence?

Guest Post about Time Travel: Isn’t it romantic? I think most people think of time travel in this way. But imagine you could travel back in time, taking with you your twenty-first century knowledge and skills. You could be a god among the ignorant masses—you could rule the world. Better yet, you could beat George Harrison to his place among the Beatles. Or you might have a second chance to rewrite your own life story, as in the book, Replay. Perhaps you could play superhero by going back in time and eliminating the evil-doers—kidnap Hitler as an infant and sell him to a childless Jewish couple. Time travel offers countless, intriguing possibilities. It also presents a number of challenges. Realism, if that’s what you're shooting for, is probably the biggest one.

It goes without saying that the characters in a time travel story need to be believable. Perhaps because you’re dealing with a topic that is generally difficult to relate to, attention to character realism is particularly important. You want to develop a good relationship between the characters and the reader so the reader is less likely to stumble over the impossible.

Well-researched setting—historical accuracy: Of course, if you are traveling to the future, historical accuracy is irrelevant. That’s an entirely different kind of story. My story, The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains is perhaps a bit unusual in that it starts in the past and moves to the near-present. I wrote the past (the year 1875) as though the entire story would take place there, spending as much time with research as I did with the actual writing. I gave a lot of attention to the dialect of the period and the region. I studied letters, songs, and poems, and compiled a list of period colloquialisms to help lend realism to my story.

Probably the toughest issue I encountered in writing about time travel was: How does one behave when faced with the impossible? I once saw a video in which the world renowned magician, David Blaine, engaged unsuspecting bystanders on a New York street in elaborately staged illusions. These people had no idea of who or what they were dealing with; they were not prepared. You could tell by their reactions—stunned, drop-jawed, messed up, mind-blown—that they were completely convinced they were witnessing the impossible. There should be a law against screwing with people in that manner. So, anyway, suppose you suddenly found yourself a hundred years in the future or in the past. You would very likely doubt your own sanity. You would likely behave in a way that might actually look dull in print. I found it a challenge finding the balance between too much boring realism and convincing, intriguing fantasy.

After writing The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains, I thought I was done with time travel, but after writing this guest post I’m having second thoughts. There are yet a plethora (oh, yes, a plethora) of unturned stones in this sub-genre.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Natasha.

About the Author: While a past resident of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, New York, and Vermont, Rodney Jones now resides in Richmond, Indiana, where he whiles away his days pecking at a laptop, riding his ten-speed up the Cardinal Greenway, taking long walks with his daughter, or backpacking and wilderness camping.

His list of past occupations reads like his list of past residences, though his life-long ambition was to be an artist until he discovered a latent affinity for writing.

“In art,” Rodney says, “I was constantly being asked to explain images constructed from a palette of emotions and ideas, which usually required complex narratives to convey their meaning, if there even was a meaning. In writing, the words are creating the images, images are telling a story, the story is evoking feelings. I like it. There’s nothing to explain.”

Rodney’s interests include: art, science, politics, whiskey and chocolate, music (collecting vinyl records), gardening, and travel.

Check out the rest of the tour and the chance to win prizes here.

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