In Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait the main character, Spider, struggles with the concept of time travel–and readers see its possibilities and consequences. What event would you go back in time to see or is there something from the future that you’d like to witness?
I’d be seriously tempted to go forward, like the hero in Wells’ The Time Machine, some great big gulp of time, to see what I might see (and hoping I could stay as close to my time machine as possible, in case it turns out that the future is not quite as happy and shiny as I might hope). However, if I were to go back in time, I wouldn’t mind seeing something amazing: what really killed the dinosaurs? How did life on Earth actually begin? Who first came up with the idea of coffee?
Your novels appeal to the science-fiction community. What inspires you to write this genre, and have you considered writing something other than sci-fi?
I write sci-fi because I’ve always felt like I’m living in a very science-fictional world. The key influence for me was watching the first moon landing, on live TV, when I was six years old. Seeing this skyscraper-tall rocket blast off, and then actual guys bouncing around in big white glary suits, on the moon only a few days later, was gobsmacking. I was just old enough to start to understand what I was seeing. I could go outside at night, and look at the moon, and imagine that if I could just squint and peer enough, I might see those guys bouncing around. When in later years I got a telescope, the first thing I wanted to see, if possible, was the equipment left behind by the lunar explorers. Sadly, my telescope wasn’t up to it, but it didn’t keep me from trying. This whole thing led me to an extreme interest in what at the time was referred to as ‘outer space’, which at the time was deeply uncool. It continues to astonish me that I’ve lived to see, if not more people on the moon, then at least the so-called ‘geek ascendancy’. That’s a sci-fi development no writer ever saw coming. If I were to write some other genre, it would be crime or spy-fiction, my other two great loves. You can see the influence of this material in all my books, most of which are mysteries as much as they are sci-fi tales.
In Time Machines Repaired While-UWait, there are endless shifts in timelines, and past and present versions of ‘Spider’. Do these events and characters evolve in order as you write from start to finish, or do you have pieces of ‘events’ and slot them together as you go?
No. It’s a big chaotic mess that usually requires a great deal of sorting out once I’ve finished the first draft. I love time travel stories, but I do hate the organisational and logistical hassles involved in making them work properly.
On one of your blogs you mention you have a sequel to Time Machines Repaired- While-U-Wait, is that what you are working on next?
I am working on a sequel, tentatively titled Time Never Sleeps. I’m currently about 23,500 words into it, and it’s going quite slowly, because of the problem I referred to in the previous answer, that it’s very difficult to keep everything straight. Fortunately, it’s just as difficult for my poor hero, Spider Webb, as well, who utterly hates time machines and time travel with the fury of a thousand suns!