As a novelist, I’m often asked where ideas for my stories come from. The answer is in the most unexpected places, and Waking in Time is no different. I've always been enamoured with time travel stories. Shooting forward or backward through time and meeting family members or historic figures is a fantasy of mine. My favorite book is Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Another huge favorite is Outlander, an epic story spanning centuries and continents. The television series Outlander is incredibly well done, but leaves out much of what’s in the books, so be sure to read those 800-page masterpieces.
For years, I struggled to come up with the two most important issues of my time travel story. First is the vehicle and setting for travel, how my time traveler would get from one time to another. Second, and even more important, is the reason. Why is this person travelling through time? Then one day while touring a university campus with majestic old buildings, I thought of all the history that has transpired there and wondered what secrets those buildings would share if only they could talk. And that lead me to placing Waking in Time on a university campus. My character, Abbi, could travel through time and many of the buildings would be there no matter how far I sent her back. Of course, a lot of buildings would have changed or been constructed over the years of her travel, but that just gave the story more interest and me a lot more research to do.
The story itself came to me while researching genealogy. I discovered an ancestor named Ruby born about a hundred years ago. Ruby’s life was filled with difficulty and intrigue. Her mother died suddenly when she was barely two years old. She was passed from one family member to another until her father remarried several years later to a woman who disliked young Ruby and shipped her off to boarding school. Imagine my excitement when I uncovered actual copies of her century-old school transcripts. But there was a missing year where Ruby was mysteriously absent, and then reappeared again.
Ruby’s story was fascinating, heart breaking, and left many unanswered questions. But because she and everyone who ever knew her had long passed away, it was impossible to learn the truth of her life and the missing year. Then I realized the only way to discover what happened would be to travel back in time. But since that’s clearly impossible, at least I could put her into a book. And so I created the character of Abbi Thorp and hurtled her back in time to unravel family secrets she never knew existed. Our young heroine only travels backward in time. She meets a middle-aged professor who has dedicated his life’s work to solving time travel and to helping get Abbi home, but each time she travels, the professor is younger and less equipped to help. Then there is Will, the young college guy from the past who only travels forward in time. When Abbi meets Will, he’s already loved her for decades. Through buried treasure, many adventures, and secret messages delivered through time, they manage to defy odds and work together to unravel the truth about a family mystery.