Author Interview: Howard Loring (Elastic Limit)

In this author interview we find out more about Howard Loring – creator of Epic Fables and Tales of Elastic Limits.

Howard Loring (AKA “TimeJumperA1) is the author of the “Epic Fables” Beyond the Elastic Limit and Piercing the Elastic Limit, as well as “Tales of the Elastic Limit”. In this author interview we find out a little more about the man behind these books…

Howard Loring, Epic Fables of The Elastic Limit

Douglas Adams’ Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy famously proposed an answer but the question wasn’t well-framed. Henry Kissinger asked whether anyone had any questions for his answers.

Seemingly questions are less important than answers, though the Old Man in Howard Loring’s Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable would disagree. He was keen for his visitors to frame the ‘proper question’ and by doing so their brainwaves could be aligned in a certain way.

On one hand I feel I under pressure to ask Howard the ‘right’ questions. But if that’s the case then what will that be doing to my brain? On the other hand, Howard may already have the answers but needs the questions to present them. And in this case then this makes the task of me asking my questions a mere action of duty and fulfilment of destiny.

But only if Howard’s answer to my first question is positive. So let’s see…

Do you have any answers for my questions?

Howard: Certainly, fire away

Why are you so interested in Time?

Howard: Time defines us; it frames out reality and permeates our entire existence. So what’s not to love?

And you write books on the elusive Elastic Limit of Time; what is that exactly?

Howard: Actually it’s two things; in my Epic Fables the phrase Elastic Limit is Jargon, the term used to describe the concept that one must understand and implement in order to manipulate and maneuver within any given Timestream, but it’s also a Metaphor for the individual human imagination, so each title really has a double meaning: the novel BEYOND the ELASTIC LIMIT propels you Beyond your imagination, and the novel PIERCING the ELASTIC LIMIT blows your imagination away, while TALES of the ELASTIC LIMIT contains twelve short stories intended to feed your imagination.

That’s the one that can be read backwards?

Howard: Well, it can be read in three ways, actually: At random for each chapter is just a story about Time, or the chapters can be read in sequence for the History of Humanity but, as Time is linear, it’s the same thing from either direction, so the chapters can also be read in descending order for the story of how Human History came about. And I think that’s a nice twist on the genre.

I also see that you’ve subtitled each of your Time Travel works Epic Fables. Why, what are Epic Fables?

Howard: Well, Literature has jargon also, terms used within the discipline that have a specific meaning; for example, a Novel is not a Short Story, etc., but then again, each of these can be presented as either a Fable or an Epic, and my books are both.

How so?

Howard: Fables are usually simple stories with a moral or a moral lesson, and my books while being layered and interwoven are all simply written, and Epics hold a universal appeal, with a narrative to which anyone can relate.

So what makes your books Epic?

Howard: As I said, they are universal, or rather deal with universal human concepts: in Epics the plot is in reality secondary, it’s the changes the characters go through that’s important, so it’s not a ‘what they did’ story but rather ‘who they became’ because of what they did. This makes them relatable, for most everyone can empathize given most at some time have lost in love, been disappointed by life, hated their job, boss, co-worker, neighbor or even family, and the very same emotions and conflicts such circumstances engender have been felt to some extent by all of us. After all, universal concepts, by definition, are held by everyone.

Your books often contain real History. Is this important to you?

Howard: Write what you know, yes? And the great thing is that many people who don’t as a rule read History love the historic nature of my Epic Fables, and are surprised by it, some blown away by it, for it’s not just boring dates or overblown explanations but real life people and situations, and this fact intrigues them, a good thing, I think.

The Noble Watchman?

Shakespeare famously questioned the fragrance of a rose if it were otherwise named. You place a lot of importance on the names of your characters in your first novel “Beyond the Elastic Limit” which are descriptive and interestingly, vary in time. Google tells me that “Howard” means “Noble watchman”. Is this a reference for your affinity with time, or something else?

Howard: Duh? It’s my name, but I will gladly take the inference, thanks.

You mention in “Piercing the Elastic Limit” that music communicates more deeply and less ambiguously than speech. What would be the backing soundtrack to your novels?

Howard: Ha, I’ll leave that to the movie producer, but my books do cover how language has meaning through symbols, and in order to communicate this meaning a consensus must be reached or understanding is impossible. Music, on the other hand, is a direct connection needing no consensus, and it can touch you in ways that may never be understood: Music can make you happy or sad, create feelings of joy or sorrow, and such examples are endless, so yes, music is internal and personal and, I think that’s why it touches us as deeply as it does.

Your novels can be read independently and in any order. Did you write them / parts of them in the order that they’re printed? Is there a preferred reading order?

Howard: As each Timeline is in itself a Current Reality, I had no wish to write sequels, so yes, each book is independent in that it needs no backstory, and therefore you can read them in any order. However, I did wish them to relate and even explain each other, and for this reason how exactly they do so depends on the sequence in which they are read, another interesting twist, I believe.

Is there a difference between time jumpers (as in your novels) and time travellers?

Howard: All of the books explain that the original purpose of the machine was benign, simply to view other eras and not to physically Time Travel, as that wasn’t its intended function. Given the operator ‘jumped’ between different Timeframes to view and study them, the term was apt, and so yes, in my scheme, once the existing machine and software were altered to permit this ability, Time Travelers and Time Jumpers are indeed the same.

I love your idea of two technologies which work together to allow time travel / jumping (the elastic limit and the time fistula). I was also impressed with how you involved some biological (non) effects where time jumpers didn’t age during a jump. Do you see technology or biology as being more dominant when it comes to time travel?

Howard: I simply wished to avoid the normal pitfalls of most Time Traveling tales i.e. Paradox and so forth, and as I write Fables, I do this employing a minimalist fashion, in very much a less is more approach. Most of the particulars are simply already in place, and so I needn’t spend time introducing or explaining them, which seems to work given the feedback I receive .

I read on your Facebook page that you have an interest in astronomy. Are you a planetary observer or do you prefer the deep sky objects?

Howard: I observe everything, but it takes different instruments to view both near and far, so I’ve many telescopes of various designs and sizes, some of which I’ve reconditioned (pictures on my Facebook Fan Page) and here’s also a video that shows a few of them, in fact I’ve many videos on YouTube dealing with the Elastic Limit of Time.

Water seems to feature prominently in both “Beyond the Elastic Limit” and “Piercing the Elastic Limit” – either as a resource or as a component in a meteorological event. Would you rather have a submarine, an aircraft or a spacecraft?

Howard: Well again, water is certainly a universal thing concerning the human life experience. As such it’s been used often in Myth, and from many cultures, as bread has been, and that’s why I also use them, as well as many other ubiquitous human connections. But to answer your question, I’d have to pick spacecraft, given my Time Machine would certainly qualify.

Yes, you always employ Myth; is there a particular reason for this?

Howard: Myth is a very ancient art form; it was honed through the ages long before written language, and for the most part it connects on a subconscious level, employing prototypes that are easily recognizable in a much broader sense. To this end, Myth can certainly be used to convey the backstory or move the action along. This literary device ensures a ‘page-turning’ read, and it’s also great fun to write.

When you’re sitting on a train trying to read, what’s your order of annoyance (most annoying => least annoying):
(a) a bunch of noisy school kids
(b) their teachers who don’t tell them to settle down and let people read in peace
(c) old ladies who put on too much perfume
(d) old men who nose whistle
(e) teenagers listening to loud music on head phones
(f) people who eat noisily / stinky food (without offering you any)
(g) realizing you’re not sitting on the train at all, but still in the platform waiting room because you were so engrossed in your book you didn’t notice the train arriving.

Howard: Well, sorry there; none of the above I’m afraid, given I no longer travel by such a conveyance: I instead use my imagination, which so far hasn’t broken down or run late, but who knows what the Future holds? Oh, wait: just read my books to find out.

Become a fan of Howard Loring!

You can follow Howard on his website, on Facebook and on Twitter (@TimeJumperA1). Howard’s novels are available on Amazon.


Review: Beyond the Elastic Limit (Howard Loring)

Review: Piercing the Elastic Limit: An Epic Fable (Howard Loring)


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Author Interview: Scott Eric Barrett (The Guttersnipes)

Scott Eric Barrett has published more than fifty articles for various newspapers, history magazines, and educational publications -and the author of time travel novel “The Guttersnipes”. how did he manage it?

Scott Eric Barrett is the creator behind “The Guttersnipes” – a fun and fast-paced read which has a time travel component that involves a biological and technological component.

Scott Eric Barrett
Guttersnipes author Scott Eric Barrett

The time machine is a black box mechanism – albeit one which works with a purple beam which takes Charlie and his friend Arty back to New York city in 1865. In this setting there’s a light educational element which makes The Guttersnipes an especially good novel for teenagers.

In his own words, Scott loves History, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and any work of fiction that has strong characters and a subtle message. In this author interview Scott reveals how his love of Star Wars influenced parts of The Guttersnipes – as well as laying down his limits!

The Guttersnipes by Scott Eric Barrett

The Guttersnipes is your first novel, but not your first publication. How did you find the transition from writing articles for newspapers and magazines to a full blown novel?

Scott: I stammered into the writing world in a somewhat nontraditional way. I always wanted to be a storyteller, but my first dream was to write and direct movies. I studied film production in college and went to work (and I do mean work) in the industry as a production assistant. My path from dragging cables and moving key lights to directing the next Harrison Ford blockbuster seemed daunting to say the least. I dabbled in screenwriting a bit, but found much more creative freedom in fiction. The problem was that screenwriting and fiction were extremely different disciplines so I made the painful decision to go back to school to study creative writing. That led me to working as a professional writer and editor to pay the bills. The transition from writing stories (my early screenwriting days) to nonfiction stuff like company profiles and product reviews was actually tougher than going from magazine articles to novels.

The Guttersnipes is aimed at younger readers but has some quite gruesome sections. Were these gory sections a deliberate ‘addition’ to the novel, or are they a necessary part of Charlie’s story?

Scott: I wanted to make sure the ugliness and grossness of mid-19th century America was on full display. I remember the differences between Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns and the glossy western TV shows from the same time period. The Eastwood films painted a very grim, gritty picture of 19th century life that left a lasting impression. I loved watching Eastwood’s characters do battle, but I knew even when I was 10 that I wanted no part of that sweaty, stinky world. I wanted both the character of Charlie and the reader himself/herself to realize that New York City in 1865 was a very dangerous place. It helps prepare Charlie for his future adventures/destinations and helps him appreciate home a bit like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”.

How did you find the balance between education for younger readers and progressing the story line?

Scott: When it came to the historical elements, I didn’t want to come across as too preachy or explain too much. It would sound awkward and clunky to have characters talking too much about the Civil War, Lincoln assassination, slavery, etc. I needed to trust that my readers would know some basic facts about the time period. My hope is that they will come away entertained and perhaps with a curiosity about P.T. Barnum or the American Museum or the awful plight of the 1860s street kids.

Charlie describes the story of finding Trike as “…really long”. Will we ever hear more about this story?

Scott: I don’t want to sound like I’m keeping secrets, but I will say for certain that Charlie’s experiences with dinosaurs don’t end with the death of Trike. As far as Charlie talking about Trike (and how he “found” a dinosaur in the first place), it will be a subject he bottles up for years and years. The loss was and is significant and when we meet up with Charlie again (only a few months will have passed), he is trying to cope with feelings by never talking about Trike openly. He even tries to avoid thinking about him.

Is your passion for history instrumental in incorporating time travel in The Guttersnipes?

Scott: Absolutely. I devour history books and magazines in my leisure time. I don’t think a day has passed since I was five that I didn’t imagine, at some point in each day, what it would be like to visit Egypt in 2560 BCE, Athens in 490 BCE, etc. I wanted to incorporate a time travel element to The Guttersnipes rather than simply set the story in the past because fish-out of-water type tales provide limitless opportunities for adventure.

Your time travel mechanism is black box and there’s not much in the way of time travel paradoxes. What techniques did you use to keep the reader aware that time travel is a key element of The Guttersnipes?

Scott: I wanted the technical aspects of the time travelling to be mysterious and almost magical for the first adventure. The key turns out to be the purple “energy” rather than a fancy device/gadget. I tried use Charlie’s (and Arty’s) overwhelming sense of wonder to keep the readers aware of the time travelling element. The strange sights and people, odd clothing, and even some of the words people used needed to be “out of time.” I also focused on the pace and the idea that travelling through the time isn’t simply like a road trip. Charlie and Arty have to find Trike and get back to their own time before seven days pass or they will be stuck in 1865 permanently. I think adding a physical danger element and the idea that people aren’t meant to make these kinds of journeys helped make the time travel aspect a critical part to the story.

The purple colour of the light sabres in the Star Wars follow up movies created a lot of debate regarding whether or not it carried any significance. Is there any significance to the purple light in your time travel orb and the fire at the museum?

Scott: Nice catch! The color is important for each of those elements (I don’t want to reveal its true nature yet…lol). As far as the aesthetic element. It was my mom’s favorite color and is definitely an ode to Star Wars. In Star Wars, the “good” guys have blue lightsabers and the “bad” guys have red lightsabers. A purple lightsaber represents shades of both good and bad, light and dark. It’s an important concept I plan to explore even more in the follow up adventures.

Would you rather have a piggy back on a dinosaur or ride a tauntaun?

Would Scott Eric Barrett ride a tauntaun?
Tauntaun from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Image credit:

Scott: Tough one. If I love Star Wars as a whole, then I practically worship The Empire Strikes Back. I don’t; however, worship cold weather and since riding a tauntaun would probably place me somewhere in the arctic I’m going to go with a dinosaur ride. Hook me up with a good T-Rex whisperer and I will be in Cretaceous heaven!

And a couple of questions from my daughter:

How do you know about dinosaurs?

Scott: I have a strange brain. I don’t know a ton about a lot of things (especially math…lol), but certain subjects intrigue me to such an extent that I embark on obsessive research extremes. Dinosaurs may have been my very first obsession. They are giant monsters from a bygone era that disappeared in a geological instant. The mystery, wonder, and tragedy still give me goose bumps to this day. Paleontologists teach us more every year and I still read about every new discovery with the same curiosity I had as a boy. From Tyrannosaurus Rex to the nasty raptors and, of course, triceratops, I have always dreamed about visiting the Age of Dinosaurs.

How did you think about the people in the American Museum?

Scott: The American Museum was really the spark for the whole adventure! I knew Charlie Daniels was a “different” character and I knew, as an adolescent, he was naturally very uncomfortable about his differences so I wanted him to interact with others who were as odd, and some far odder than him. My moment of inspiration came when I happened to catch a documentary on History about P.T. Barnum and the so-called “circus freaks” and “human curiosities” of the 19th century. I always assumed they were a travelling group like some of today’s carnivals. When the program showcased the American Museum smack dab in the middle of New York City, I knew I had my setting. Barnum was really an amazing historical figure. His American Museum was THE place to go for the average 1860s New Yorker. Most of the museum characters in the novel are based on real people. Their stories are sad, oftentimes tragic, and very inspiring.

Author bio:

Scott Eric Barrett is an award-winning freelance writer and full-time editor from Glendale, Arizona. Scott has published more than fifty articles for various newspapers, history magazines, and educational publications. He completed his first novel, The Guttersnipes, in early 2015, and recently finished his second book, A Christmas Wish. Both fantasy adventures are fast-paced rides with twists and turns galore aimed at young and middle-grade readers. Scott’s wife and daughter inspire him to work hard every day and stay resilient in a fiercely competitive industry that often forces young writers to give up on their dreams.

You can follow Scott on his website, on Facebook and on Goodreads).

The Guttersnipes is available from in both paperback and kindle format.

Review: The Guttersnipes by Scott Eric Barrett

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Author Interview: Les Lynam (Time Will Tell)

In this author interview Les Lynam tells us how he reacts when his mother in law sums up his first time travel novel as “weird”. I didn’t think so – what did Les make of it?

Les Lynam’s offering to the world of time travel is his “Time Will Tell” series. Comprising …Before You Leap, Saves Nine and In One Basket this series is written for the YA audience but has plenty of sci fi (and time travel) packed in for the fully fledged adult!

Les Lynam
Les Lynam

Les once mentioned to me in an email that he was “…old enough to be the main character’s grandfather”. This might be true; he didn’t say anything about being a 5 times great grandfather! 😉

Interview with Les Lynam (Time Will Tell)

Les, many thanks for giving us your time!

…Before You Leap, Saves Nine and In One Basket are titled with expressions, as well as your joint venture with Tim Hemlin and Chess Desalls (“A Friend in Need”). What made you think of titling your novels in this way?

Book cover for Before you Leap by Les Lynam
…Before You Leap

Les: When I initially started writing this series, the first title that came to me was A Stitch in Time. This came from my overall imagining of time as a giant tapestry that needed a little ‘repair’, thus the stitching. I discovered there were already several books titled A Stitch in Time and I wanted to be a bit more unique.

Saves Nine by Les Lynam
…Saves Nine

That prompted Saves Nine, which I decided was probably beyond cryptic to most readers. I hoped that by tossing in the ellipses it would prompt the reader to supply the missing part. I’m still not sure whether many are putting it together. The other titles are also well-worn adages, (Look)…Before You Leap, and (Don’t put all your eggs)…In One Basket.

In One Basket by Les Lynam
…In One Basket

I’m currently working on book four of the series, tentatively entitled …Just Before the Dawn. Each of the missing parts of the phrase has something to do with the story plot of that book. I think I was hoping for more of a ‘I see what you did there’ reaction than what I appear to be getting. Perhaps the phrases aren’t as well-worn and widely known as I had anticipated.

The Time Will Tell Series is written for Young Adults, yet has a feast of sci fi ideas, of which time travel is just one. And within the realm of time travel, many complicated aspects are dealt with. Why did you choose to write for the YA audience in a genre which is more usually associated with adult readers? Would you change anything if you were to write this series for adults instead of for YAs?

Les: As I began this journey to redefine myself as a writer, I think the best advice I got was to write the book that I wanted to read, so I don’t know if it is accurate to say I “chose to write for the YA audience”. That may also be the thing that trips me up the most in the area of trying to market these books. Personally, I’ve never liked anyone’s attempt to pigeonhole me (as a person) and I think that carries over to my writing. I suppose because my stories are suitable for the younger reader and feature teenaged characters, that plops it into the YA category, but I think I’ve found more readers who are well above their teens who enjoy my style. I’m not sure what changes would be required to consider these novels as adult reads. Violence? Gratuitous sex? Swearing? Since I don’t particularly enjoy reading stories that feature those things, I don’t think I could effectively write them. Two of my favorite 20th Century authors are Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein. They both wrote sci-fi considered to be separated into either juvenile or adult categories. I’ve read nearly all of Heinlein’s works and I don’t see that any of his adult works are inappropriate for the younger set. His juvenile works are perhaps a bit more simplistic, but enjoyable reads for the adult. I guess I’m not very good at drawing a line and sorting ideas as either juvenile or adult.

The two main characters in the Time Will Tell series are Sean and Alex. I must admit that I didn’t like Sean as a person; I found him whiny and irritating. For me, Alex (and his other personas) is the real star of the show! Did you have any ideas about the readership that Alex would appeal to whilst you were writing?

Les: That has possibly been one of my biggest surprises. I didn’t think Alex would be anyone’s favorite character. I was afraid his instant access to information would make him seem like an annoying know-it-all. I also thought his overly complex (and wordy) language might be off-putting. I pictured him as being read more like Star Trek’s Vulcans (Spock, Tuvak) or android (Data), but I’m getting comments back that compare him to Sheldon Cooper. It’s fascinating how different people have different perspectives.

Sean often asks pointed questions to Alex who seemingly ducks the question by offering a different or unexpected solution. Jane also noticed this and asked Alex whether everyone from the 23rd Century avoids questions or whether it’s just him. Was this a deliberate approach to keep us in Sean’s confusion, or are there deeper level answers in your world building?

Les: The biggest struggle Alex has with the 20th Century is with everyone openly expressing emotions. At the hint of any question that even remotely probes his emotional side, he’s going to deflect it. He accepts that the logical and scientific basis of his 23rd Century life is the way humans should behave, but has his own personal struggles. Immersion into the barbaric 20th Century culture makes it that much more difficult for him to deny his own feelings. He’s also trained as a chrono-historian and has been warned of the dangers of revealing the future to anyone in the past, so that’s another area he will deflect when questioned. This side of him breaks down more quickly than the logic vs. emotion side.

I was really impressed that Alex doesn’t use technology when there are simple solutions instead. This seems to go against the current norm where people use technology for the most simple of tasks (e.g. using a calculator instead of employing mental arithmetic; using a messaging app to talk to your friend sitting next to you on the train, etc.). Do you think Alex’s approach to problem solving might prevail in the future?

Les: I don’t know. I suspect my answer is also going to be swayed by a series I’m currently reading. It’s the Free Trader series by Craig Martelle. To quickly sum up, the story takes place on Cygnus VII in a post-apocalyptic world in 400-year recovery from a war that the ancient Earth colonists waged against opposing idealists who’d settled in various parts of the world. All humans were nearly destroyed, but the survivors were forced to survive in primitive conditions. I would equate the level of civilization to be similar to 19th-century American frontier. The protagonist discovers a hidden bunker of ‘old tech’ and tries to make sense of it all. As he becomes more familiar with it, he begins to fear that adopting ‘old tech’ in his current world might again lead to war.

But that aside doesn’t really answer your question (other than possibly setting my frame of mind). I always loved gadgets in sci-fi and am sometimes amazed at how many of them came into being in my own lifetime. The flip-phone was certainly an amazing realization of the 60’s Star Trek communicators (which now seem quaint by the smartphone standard). Alexa and Siri certainly seem to be on track with the voice activated computer on the Enterprise (even have a more ‘human’ voice than what Majel Barrett supplied). I think your question might be hinting at the idea of whether we use new tech because it is a better way to perform a certain task, or just because it’s a ‘cool’ way to perform a task.

If I could take a moment to focus just on telecommunication. I discovered while reading books written in the early 20th Century that people would use the telephone to call someone to schedule an appointment to talk (face to face) and not use it to simply hold that conversation. In my own childhood (in the 50s and 60s) my aunt lived in Arizona and a telephone call to her brother in Iowa (my dad) was a monumental occasion. Well into my adulthood, non-local calling (long distance) was billed separately and quite the expense. In 2017 if your phone plan doesn’t include free international calling, you can always get around it with Skype. The first mobile phones were expensive and about the shape and weight of a brick, now they are pocket-sized (although there seems to be some trend to have larger and larger screens). Millenials seem to eschew vocal conversations, which I find baffling, as inflections of a person’s voice is a considerable layer of communication that goes missing. But I guess that’s what emojis are for. I think I’ll quit here before I sound too curmudgeonly, but the point is: as the technology evolves, the layers that are useful remain and the fluff layers that are ‘cool’ drop away.

Alex recognises David Bowie as a genius composer from a retrospective viewpoint. How would Alex react if he experienced one of his live performances, and then later to be present in January 2016 amongst the news surrounding Bowie’s death?

Les: I don’t think he really has a reaction. ALL of the people alive in 2016 are dust in the 23rd century, so all events are historic. Though he struggles with his emotional side (keeping it in check, as he was raised to believe was the correct response to emotions), I don’t think he would have an appreciable reaction to Bowie’s death. Neither do I think he would attend a live performance unless he had set it up as an historical study of some type.

The first law of time travel in the Time Will Tell series is not to change history. Sean and Alex struggle – and come to terms – with this in different ways. How easy would it be for you to break this law?

Les: As someone who’s been fascinated by the idea of time-travel (for close to a half-century now) I think that for me, personally, to be willing to change the past would be more on the personal level and I’d be unlikely to change anything major. One of my older sisters died at the age of 28. I think if I had an opportunity to change that, I wouldn’t have to think about it. It would be done. Growing up during the cold war era (when I was certain the world would go up in a nuclear fireball at any moment), I think I’d totally shy away from any changes that could have any impact on a large scale. Would I warn JFK not to go to Dallas, or at least to ride in a covered vehicle. No. The times were too skittish. The world may have been a better place with him spending 8 years in the White House, or he could have somehow brought about a situation that led to mankind’s destruction. Too risky. Not going to touch it.

Going back another generation. Surely removing Hitler from the world before he came to power (or in the early days) would be a good idea. No. I’d stay away from that one, too. Hitler made stupid emotional decisions about bombing Great Brittain that a more clever strategist may have not made. And then there’s always the possibility that with no Hitler, Joseph Stalin would have conquered Europe. Nope. I wouldn’t change any major events.

Nanites are a brilliant implementation of technology into the biological realm. Would you take an injection of nanites if they were available?

Les: If we’re talking about the level that we see used in my stories, probably. Certainly the diagnostics and simple repairs would be the main drawing point. The caveat, of course, is wrapped in privacy issues. Who has access? My doctor? Does he share it with anyone? Is it hackable? What can we do to keep the government out of it? I think we are entering an era where the idea of an individual living a ‘private’ life is going to be constantly challenged.

Sean is credited with a good imagination because he’s into scifi. I noticed many references in the Time Will Tell series to various scifi novels and movies. Are you an older version of Sean (and in which case, I apologise to your younger self for calling him whiny and irritating!) – is this a good reflection on yourself?

Les: I think all of my characters show at least SOME facet of my own life. Although I say they are ‘imagined’ characters, I’m sure my subconscious builds them from myself as well as people that I’ve known throughout the years as well as fictional characters that I’ve enjoyed either in books or TV or movies. I think the most positive aspect that Sean reflects from me is problem-solving. When presented with a challenge, his brain naturally looks for avenues to a solution. Was I whiney and irritating as a teen? I don’t know. Maybe we should ask my older sister (she’ll probably read this, once it’s published).

Paul: Note to Les’ sister: Feel free to share that in the comments! 😉

I’ve seen that you frequently ask your Facebook fans for their opinion on book covers, blurbs, etc.. To what extent do you take their comments on board and incorporate them into your work?

Les: Putting anything out there for public scrutiny is always a risk. On the positive side, I’ve gotten some very helpful feedback, but I’ve also found some comments to be (to me) totally disconnected from what I’m trying to say. My undergraduate degree was in mass-communications, but the world has morphed mightily since then. The return channel of communication is hugely broader than anything envisioned back in the day. I think I’ve finally learned that the best response to a ‘you suck and you’re an idiot’ comment is to recognize the level of intellect it takes to make such remarks and stay away from engaging as if they were an intelligent being. Facebook would be a much quieter place if more people learned that. Specifically with the covers, I think a lot of what I implemented in changes depended on how well I knew the person commenting and how well I thought that person understood the concept of what I was trying to convey. Ultimately, there are aspects of multiple suggestions that are opposed to each other. At some point, I have to pick sides when the proposals are incompatible with each other. Overall, I think it’s been a helpful experience.

I noticed that you mentioned that your mother-in-law described your first novel as “weird”. How did you react?

weird science
weird science

Les: That one was easy to shrug off. I knew she mainly read (voraciously) Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Debbie Macomber, Daniel Steel, etc. I suspect that the Venn diagram of Romance Readers (red) and Sci-Fi readers (blue) would have a tiny section of overlap (purple). And really, ‘weird’ has been a Sci-Fi word for a long time.

How did you react when you found out that Marilyn Monroe and Elvis had been spotted with your novels?

Marilyn reads Les Lynam's Time Will Tell series!

Elvis - time till tell, baby!

Les: Naturally it made me curious. I had to do an extensive search to try to piece together how a book published in the 21st Century made an appearance with Elvis (circa 1950s). It must be that Elvis either IS or KNEW a time-traveler. It was kind of him to pass it around, I thought. I wonder what kind of deal Nixon tried to pull when he gave the book back to Elvis.

You can follow Les on his website, Facebook page and Twitter (@LesLynamSFAuth).

Review: Before you Leap by Les Lynam

Review of …Saves Nine and …In One Basket


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Author interview: Patricia Smith (Time Split)

Patricia Smith is currently busy with her sequel to her time travel novel, Time Split. As well as time travel, Patricia’s written novels in other areas of science fiction – and the end of the world!

Interview with Patricia Smith

Author Patricia Smith
Time Split author, Patricia Smith

Science fiction author Patricia Smith is the author of Time Split – a short but concise time travel novel which works on a single time line. She’s also written other science fiction novels, all of which reflect her interest in some way – the end of the world…

Time Split by Patricia Smith
Time Split by Patricia Smith

What I particularly like about Time Split is how real – or at least, plausible – the science and the process behind the science, is. Time Split also dives into not just the science side of science fiction, but also the human element, with particularly chilling detail given over to post nuclear fallout.

Add to that Patricia’s unique way of presenting an alternative history when it comes to the “Let’s kill Hitler” line!

Anyway. Here’s Patricia to tell us more about it – and more!

I love how you describe experiments at the start of the novel – the set up, results, possible conclusions and testing new hypotheses. This injects science into the novel and makes this a ‘proper’ sci fi novel. What was your motivation to do it this way?

Patricia: I want my stories to be based on actual science; they might be pushing the boundaries of science, but could still be possible. The reader has to understand what is going on. I did not want them to have to leave their beliefs at the door. I wanted them to have faith in the world I created. I feel it’s the only way to emotionally engage people.

Often living matter is a problem in experimentation in science fiction, but in Jason’s teleportation experiments it brings about an interesting (and in our case desired) side effect – time travel! Is this evidence that space and time are intrinsically linked, or that in science anything can happen?

Patricia: Electromagnetic fields would behave differently with inanimate and animated objects. An inanimate object can be encompassed by an electromagnetic field, but when a being produces its own electromagnetic field then it will influence the outcome of the field being project on to it, hence the introduction of living matter can have unforeseen circumstances.

Directly tackling the grandfather paradox is a bold and courageous move in any time travel novel but I thought it was handled really well! Did you have any problems during the writing process in this respect?

Patricia: I never really thought about it as being the Grandfather paradox, I just thought about it as time splitting at the point of the change and creating a new time stream from that point on. My writing process was I wanted to get from A-C and I had to make B believable to do so.

I read that the RAF police chased you whilst you were carrying out some research for your novel. Did this experience dissuade you researching other areas of the novel – or did it give you a heightened sense of adventure?

Tricia Smith

Patricia: It gave me a fright. Having a vivid imagination everything gets blown out of all proportion, of course and I had visions of getting arrested, which I probably would have been. I could not have told them what I was doing. Can you imagine it, “Oh, yes, Officer. I’m just seeing if this base was destroyed in a nuclear blast, whether Alnwick would survive.” That would have gone down well. Sometimes my research requires me to check out different weapons on the internet. I get a little bit worried about that because you never know who’s watching what sites you’re browsing.

I thought your description of nuclear fallout was brilliant and very emotive. How on Earth did you write that bit?

Patricia: I grew up towards the back end of the Cold War and was very much aware of the tensions between Russia and America. There was a great deal of fear about the possibility of nuclear war and it was a subject I had a morbid fascination for. I knew a little bit about the horrors of nuclear war, but again research was the key and the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima provided a lot of the information I used in the book.

If nuclear fallout isn’t bad enough you added more evil with the despicable Briggs! Are people inherently evil?

Patricia: Is it nature or nuture? I think some people might be inherently evil, but then it could be circumstances that made them that way. If you take a wolf out of the pack and put it with deer, it won’t become deer, it will still be a wolf at the end of the day, but you might be able to train it to protect the deer and not to eat them. I think there are people you have learned to prey on other people and are ready to take advantage of bad situations, people like Briggs.

I’ve read several time travel novels with a character named Jason. Can you share the time travel author beans on this. .. is it the “July August September October November” thing, or is it something completely different?

Patricia: I named my character after my cousin Jason who had a difficult start in life. He managed to turn himself completely around and I was so proud of him I wanted to call my character Jason in his honour.

You describe yourself as “absolutely nuts about astronomy and writing apocalyptic thrillers”. Do astrologers (not equal to astronomers) really have knowledge of the future and will they ever be able to predict the apocalypse? Or are they absolutely nuts?

Patricia: Some people might believe that the planets and suns do influence their destiny. The constellations may have been used as a calendar so that people knew when to plant and gather their crops and they were always embroiled in mythology so it’s understandable that these beliefs evolved into the astrology of today. I suppose predicting the future is just another step on from there.

In keeping with your astronomical interest you’ve written the “Distant Suns” series. Can you tell a little about this?

Distant Suns by Patricia Smith

Patricia: Distant Suns is based around the idea of ‘What if Jupiter became a sun.’ How would this affect our planet and could we survive? With global warming a hot topic, my thinking was how much extra would it take to tip the balance. Still, run away global warming was not the only worry and again I leaned on my interest in astronomy to come up with further problems, all of which are more than possible, including Jupiter becoming a sun.

You’ve also travelled in the opposite direction along the z axis and written about 500 specialists living at the bottom of the sea. Naturally as an oceanographer I’m curious about this! Can you share anything about it?

Islands- the Epidemic by Patricia Smith

Patricia: One fifth of the planet is land so my thinking behind Islands was what if you could occupy the ocean instead of the land. Most of the ocean would be way too deep, of course, but still a lot of the coastal shelves would be shallow enough to allow light to penetrate enough to support cities. My vision was huge cities at the bottom of the ocean, freeing up the land for the growth of food and possibly for leisure.

Your bio pic shows you standing in snow with no coat on. How do I explain that to my daughters?

Patricia Smith in the snow
Patricia Smith – braver than I!

Patricia: Thermals! I had full length thermals underneath my pants and top. Also, I never understood what they meant by the dry cold air not being as cold as the damp cold air in the UK, until I experienced it. I was a little bit cool, but considering it was -15, I would have expected a lot worse. The dampness is the killer, that and the wind, which can make a massive difference, dry air or not.

Apart from standing in snow, how do you spend your free time?

Patricia: As you stated before, I love astronomy. I have my own telescope and I love nothing more than going out on a crystal clear night to look at the stars. It just blows me away to see the mountains on the moon, rings around Saturn, Orion’s star nursery, the clouds on Jupiter – breath taking! During the day I also like hill walking, mountain biking and on a more sedate note, getting together for lunch with my lovely friends.

Follow Patricia Smith
Patricia Smith

Patricia is currently busy with a sequel for Time Split – for news on her progress you can follow Patricia on her website, Facebook page and Twitter (@ForTheLoveOfSF).

Review: Time Split by Patricia Smith


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Author interview: CR Downing (Traveler’s HOT L)

CR Downing (Chuck) has a brilliant time travel mechanism in “The Traveler’s HOT L” where personal time lines are described as threads which are woven together to form a fabric of time. In this interview Chuck gives us more insights into his reasoning.

One of the great things about being a time travel fan is being asked to read time travel novels and to share my thoughts about them. One of the unexpected spin-offs from that is occasionally having contact with those authors and finding out more about their thoughts on time and time travel, and how they’ve been able to construct a novel around those thoughts.

Until now I’ve been posting my time travel author interviews over on Time Travel Nexus. Time is nigh for a time travel author interview here on Time2timetravel!

So let’s meet CR Downing (or “Chuck”) who is the creator behind Traveler’s HOT L (which I’ve reviewed on Time Travel Nexus).

CR Downing ("Chuck")
CR Downing (“Chuck”)

Traveler’s HOT L is a collection of 8 independent short stories which share a common thread; an involvement with the Traveler’s HOT L – the “Harmonious Overlap of Time Location” and is the backbone of Chuck’s brilliant time travel mechanism.

Traveler's HOT L
Book cover for Traveler’s HOT L

As well as a “teller of tales” Chuck is also a science teacher. Dr Downing (yes – there’s a PhD to his name!) has received several awards for his teaching – including the prestigious “Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching”. He’s also a frequent speaker at science conferences at the local, state and national levels.

With such a solid (and active) footing in science, it’s hardly surprising that Chuck’s time travel method comes over so well in Traveler’s HOT L!

Chuck – many thanks for giving us your time!

I love the time travel mechanism behind the HOT L – the “Harmonious Overlap of Time Location”, and it’s explained really well in the first short story. Did you need to undertake any kind of research when exploring the ideas that you encompass here?

Chuck: I didn’t do any “scientific” research. The mode of transport along the timeline is a combination of three ideas I’d used in stand-alone short stories over many years.

  • Traveler’s HOT L was originally the title of what expanded to become Caught in the Middle, the first story in this book. It had rippling walls and the electric shock. That story ended with the line, “But, it didn’t smell all that bad after all.”
  • The mist is from another story in the book, Michael Casey O’Brien.
  • The vibrating DNA and the requirement to only travel where some amount of common DNA exists were original in DNA Trek.
  • Merging the three variables provides a complex process that gives more credence to the need for the time synchronizers and the proprietors of the HOT L.

    My favourite story in the collection is “DNA” where time travel plays a leading role through the HOT L, but also with the life of the main character who’s seeking to discover / develop time travel. In comparison, the time travel aspect in some of the other short stories is not key. How did you go about assigning the degree of integration of time travel into your stories?

    Chuck: The three of the stories mentioned in my first answer could not exist without the time travel component, although the amount of time travel that is described in Michael Casey O’Brien is minimal. Battle for a Far Planet was the longest of the short stories massaged into this anthology. In the complete Battle story, finished in Traveler’s HOT L Vol. 2, time travel is integral to the resolution of the storyline. Million-Dollar Mistake originally ended with a “storm” sending the counterfeiters back in time as a form of unexpected justice. I added the time travel element to the other stories in what I felt was an adequate amount. I know you did not agree with my assessment in some cases, but the majority of those commenting on the book like how time travel is woven into different genres. Most notable are the non-scifi fans that liked the book because of the stories.

    One of my fears of time travel becoming a reality is that it would be misused, so I really like your custodians of time who ensure that things go smoothly, or at least take measures to correct mistakes. Do you have any reservations about time travel?

    Chuck: My main reservation is like yours—misuse of time travel for personal/political gain. To limit that, my rules in brief are:

    1. The time you are gone from “your time” is time you lose in your real-time life. For example, two weeks in the past or future costs you two weeks in the year you live in.
    2. No objects forward or backward along the timeline—one photograph is allowed. No advanced weapons, drugs, or devices arrive from the future. All influence in the new time by the traveler is personal.
    3. There are penalties for missing your return window. Long-term existence—from weeks to years—in the time traveled to is consequence for missing the harmonic overlap.

    I feel that the combination of those and the existence of the time synchronizers provides a reasonable safeguard.

    I read on your website that you’re a collector of science fiction anthologies. What is it about these that hold your captivation?

    Chuck: My first in-depth experience with science fiction was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series. I next discovered anthologies of short stories: Nebula Awards, Nova, Orbit, Annual Best SciFi Stories, collections by theme, etc. The short stories intrigued me. They still do—I’m writing two as I answer these questions. Getting a point across through a satisfying plotline in a few hundred to a few thousand words is more difficult than writing longer pieces. I admire those authors honored by their inclusion in the anthologies.

    The short stories in Traveler’s HOT L cover many genres. You’ve also written full length novels in science fiction, murder mystery, Biblical fiction as well as non fiction titles. Do you set out to write in a particular genre, or do you tend to write and see what happens?

    Chuck: I always have an idea of the genre of the story before I complete more than a rough outline. The idea for the plot doesn’t always remain intact. When that happens, the genre might change. That doesn’t happen often.

    Right now, I have books in some stage of production in the following genres.

  • MysteryThe 5th Page, a Phil Mamba novel. This is out for prepublication review.
  • Science Fiction – working title is The Drunk Gene. The plot is based on genetic engineering in the early 1990’s.
  • Science FictionFreedom’s Just a Word is a short story to be submitted to magazines for publication.
  • Science FictionSecrets of the Sequenced Symbols is another Traveler’s HOT L story. In this case, the protagonists travel back to our present to learn the importance of the books they cannot read.
  • Science Fiction – working title is Interval. A rare recessive trait endows individuals with the ability to observe past events as though watching a video. Some might consider these observations to be digital time travel.
  • Biblical FictionWho Leads the Shepherd follows a shepherd’s life, including his search for the Messiah. The shepherd’s story begins outside Bethlehem as a boy on the night Jesus was born. It ends after he witnesses Christ’s crucifixion.
  • Real Life as Fiction – no working title yet. This will be a novella—a series of vignettes—about a grandpa on his deathbed and his wayward granddaughter as she travels to his hospital room.
  • As of this moment, none of the stories that are not already time-travel linked look like they will morph to include time travel.

    As a Christian, would you go back in time to see Jesus?

    Chuck: Interestingly, I’d never given much thought to that idea. “Let’s Go to Golgotha” by Brian Aldiss is a great short-short story involving time travel. If you haven’t read it, look it up online. Now, back to the answer to the question.

    Visiting Christ’s time with the knowledge of how His life ends would difficult for me. I’m not sure I’d want to experience any of that part of the story first-hand. I also suspect that what I heard might prove to be very convicting in a way beyond what even I can imagine.

    You’re justifiably a very proud grandfather. Have you taken any precautions to avoid becoming the leading role in a practical test of the grandfather paradox?

    Proud grandfather!
    Proud grandfather!

    I have not. In the current situation, the son providing half the DNA of my granddaughters is adopted, so the point is moot. Assuming my other son has children…

    Realistically, any change to the past has ramifications far beyond anything ever written. No one knows the total impact any life has on people and events. I doubt that even the most vivid imagination would fall far short of what impact a single life has on this world. Who knows the long-term impact of a kind word said to a student, an employee, or a stranger? Each of those contacts produces a unique set of ripples.

    What of events spawned by those contacts in the lives of those contacted? I don’t think there’s enough mathematics in the universe to track the path of the influence of even a single event of a single life through history.

    You’ve been a teacher for 39 years in high school and college / university. My view on teaching is that it would be one of the most frustrating jobs there is; a class mixed with kids who don’t want to learn with some who do want to learn but can’t, and hopefully at least a few who can take in what you teach. And yet you’ve achieved the “Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching”! How is this possible?!

    Chuck: An answer to this question must contain many layers.

  • Superficial Layer. I have an inherent ability to recognize when I’m losing an audience. Long ago, in my early teenage years, I developed techniques to “bring the audience back to me” when I was regaling cousins with Bill Cosby routines. I often refer to my 31 years of high school teaching as “being able to do five shows a day.” Bottom line here: I didn’t have a lot of trouble with classroom discipline.
  • Next layer in. I think I had excellent teachers throughout my schooling. I remember recording scripts for puppet shows and measuring wasted milk in 6th grade. I wrote short stories in 7th and 8th grade. I gave a speech as Fidel Castro—complete with fake beard—in 9th grade. As a senior in high school, one of my good friends and I did the last scene of Hamlet—just the two of use—swapping props as we changed roles.
  • Layer 3. My memories of school are those of challenging assignments and being expected to think through to a solution to a problem. I carried that into my teaching. I found out early in my career that most teachers didn’t teach the way I did. I was surprised. Many of my students remark about how grateful they are for making them figure things out. “I never had another class in high school or college where I had to think more than I did in your class,” is a not an uncommon remark.
  • The Core. I believe that students can do what they are asked to do if they are supported properly. By support, I’m not talking about leading questions or providing dozens of hints. There must be a balance of support and challenge. Lev Vygotsky named this the Zone of Proximal Development. It is the situation where students feel safe enough to risk thinking outside their comfort zones. I co-authored a very fine book for parents, teachers, and administrators Tune Up Your Teaching & Turn On Student Learning is a detailed look at what a classroom can be in terms of thinking and learning. The quote that follows ends the Preface.

    Betty Crocker ® is not the author of this book. It is not a recipe you can follow step by step and get a perfect award winning “cake” at the end. This is a map of the change process with “GPS coordinates” included. (p xvii)

    I believe that every teacher should make thinking—critically, creatively, coherently, and in community—the prime objective in his or her classroom.

  • Have you ever been told to “Stand in the corner until you learn to behave” by a teacher, but actually spent most of the time standing there plotting revenge (or writing graffiti on the wall)?

    Chuck: I was a model student. I remember being disciplined only twice in school. Neither was for an offense of consequence.

    What would you like the future to hold for you?


  • I will develop a deeper love of my wife.
  • I would like to be more help to more people.
  • I would like to visit my grandchildren more and model for them what the life of a Christian is.
  • Oh, and, of course, in my “perfect future,” I’m also a best-selling author.
  • You can read more about Chuck and his novels on his website, and follow him on Twitter (@CRDowningAuthor) and on Facebook.

    Read my review of Travelers HOT L over on Time Tavel Nexus!


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