Time-travel is a popular theme in books and television, but why? Sure, some people want the ability to roam with the dinosaurs (Jurassic Park cured that fascination for me), or see an important time in history (I’m looking at you Colonial America), but I think time-travel fulfills a much bigger need in us. If someone told you they had invented a way to travel back in time, I have a feeling a lot more people would go back and change past events in their own lives instead of fulfilling a fantasy.
There are countless websites, blogs and the like that pose the question: “What would you tell your younger self?” There’s several books with this premise, asking individuals to write letters to their younger selves. We all wish we had the opportunity to go back and fix certain things in our past that could have been prevented or altered with our current knowledge.
As an author I have a unique chance to do that. No, I haven’t invented time travel, but I have a pretty nifty tool with similar powers…my pen (okay, in this day and age my keyboard).
Let me explain.
As a reader, I become engulfed in the stories I read. When I’m in the midst of a book that’s captivated me, those characters leap off the page and come alive in my mind. Admit it…when you get into a story those characters take on their own lives. You take journeys with them that feel practically real. The same goes for a beloved TV show or movie. That’s why we enjoy storytelling so much. They have a power to transport us.
As an author, the same thing happens. Casper and her friends (and enemies) in The Kings of Charleston felt so real to me, even though they’ve never existed in reality. I didn’t write endlessly about her likes and dislikes, but you could ask me anything about Casper or Cal and I would have a quick answer. They took on lives of their own.
With The Hurricane Effect, I have an advantage to truly experience changing history for me. This story is based on my real life. The main character isn’t exactly the same person, but she’s an more intense version of myself. Some of the characters are completely made up, while others truly existed (won’t you have fun guessing which ones?). I’m combing through my past experiences and getting the chance to mix them with different outcomes. That’s what puts this story in the fiction category, rather than non-fiction.
If I choose to I can change my response to a particular situation and re-live it in my mind. Although its not the same as truly traveling back in time, its a weirdly satisfying position to be in. I can take the knowledge and wisdom that I didn’t possess at the time and apply it to a past situation.
Writing this story has been so much fun, but I’ll admit its been tough. There’s been some instances where I wanted to wipe away the bad experience or bad decision, but I realize that some of those things are what made me “me”. And in retrospect, if I “purify” everything in my life, I no longer am relate-able. I’m no longer a multifaceted human being with good and bad attributes. As I reflect back on some of the things from years gone by, I realize that a lot of the experiences have brought me to exactly where I am today and I would never want to change that outcome.