A Time Travel Primer
I have wanted to write a time travel story for quite a while and last February, when I was approached to write a story for a boxed set, the notion of a time travel piece leaped up and waved its hand. I started thinking about when it would be set, but there were several big questions I needed to answer before I started. What were the physicists saying about time travel? Like is it possible even theoretically? When did time travel begin to be talked about in the literary community? Would my hero have even known about the concept? And last, but certainly not least, how was I going to get my heroine back in time?
I’m a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, and they have talked about the possibility of time travel on the show, but I wanted to see what real physicists were saying about the concept. I knew some people had said it was possible, others that it was impossible. What I found out was that Albert Einstein found a fourth dimension, “space-time,” because apparently space and time are relative, not absolutes, so there’s some flexibility there. In fact, Einstein discovered that space-time is curved. Then in 1949, mathematician, Kurt Goedel demonstrated that, mathematically, pathways through time are possible.
Most recently, in 2010, famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking admitted he thinks time travel into the future is possible, although traveling backwards would violate the major principle of cause before effect.
So, since my time travel story is as much fantasy as historical, according to science, because it could never happen. Well, I can deal with that. All the other time travel novels (Outlander comes immediately to mind) accept that and move on...er backwards. And people have been talking about time travel, at least in literary circles, since 700 BC, in a story called Mahabharata, where a man visits a distant world and returns to find hundreds of years have passed. The first time-traveler in English literature may be a guardian angel, who brings documents detailing the living conditions of 1997-98 back to 1733 in a book titled Memoirs of the Twentieth Century by Samuel Madden. Another very early time travel story is called Missing One’s Coach: An Anachronism, written by an anonymous author in 1838, in which the narrator is waiting for a coach and is suddenly whisked back a thousand years to encounter the Venerable Bede. The subject escalates in popularity during the nineteenth century, culminating in H. G. Wells’ best-selling book The Time Machine. So my hero in 1868 may well have read or at least heard of the concept of time travel, which made life a bit easier.
My biggest challenge in writing my time travel tale was deciding or really creating a way for the heroine to be transported back in time. There have been many methods for time teleportation: a time machine such as Wells’ described; Back to the Future’s DeLorean; Outlander’s standing stones; wormholes; a mirror; a cosmic storm; a tardis. I didn’t want to use an actual time machine; it had to be something my heroine stumbled across out in the woods. And I didn’t want to copy something that someone had done before.
From somewhere the idea of a well emerged (imagine the one from The Ring) that would act as a time portal for my heroine and I was off and running. I really liked the idea once I came up with it, because it’s a device that can be used over and over if I decide to make this a series (a likely scenario).
I’ve always had a fondness for time travel stories and I’m really excited now to have written one. :)
CRASHING THROUGH TIME:
More than hearts can be broken when you crash through time.
Corrine MacGowan survives a plane crash only to fall down a hole in time. In 1868 Cornwall she faces the ultimate decision: Let the man she loves die, or save him and change history forever.
The first indication for Corinne MacGowan that something had gone seriously wrong was the blue exhaust trailing from the small airplane engine directly to her left. Through the large windows of the sightseeing plane, she’d been avidly scanning the beautiful green fields of Cornwall some fifteen hundred feet below her when, out the corner of her eye, she caught sight of the dark puffs that rapidly became an ominous black stream.
Her heart gave a great thump and her body froze. Oh God! Oh God! Adrenaline shot through her, and she wrenched her gaze from the billowing smoke, scanning the cramped cabin to see if any of the other five passengers had seen it. Shit. No one else had noticed a damn thing.
Corrine snapped her attention toward the cockpit. “Captain!”
The word had barely left her mouth when the harsh, insistent beep of the alarm sounded throughout the tiny cabin.
“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. Blue Skies T-RVR has engine failure. Forced landing imminent. Currently two miles east of St. Agnes. Repeat. Blue Skies...”
“Oh, my God. We’re going to crash.”
“We’re all gonna die.”
“Oh, God, oh, Jesus help me...” General shrieking dissolved into hysterical screams, curses, and weeping.
Heart now beating like a drumroll, Corrine glanced out the window. The beautiful green fields were now rushing toward her with a sickening certainty.
“Assume crash positions!”
She flopped forward, butting her head on the seat in front of her, and clutched her ankles. God, this couldn’t be happening.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee...
The alarms continued their deafening peal as the prayer ran through her head, and she held her breath and waited for impact.
She slammed forward, hitting her head again, so hard this time her teeth clicked despite her tightly clenched jaw. The plane bounced, fishtailed…and began to slow.
Alive. Thank God, they were still alive. Relief washed through her, so acute she went limp in her seat, simultaneously discovering an urgent need to pee. Cautiously, she raised her head, the chattering and crying all around her making it spin, although that could’ve been the result of that last bang into the seatback. The plane continued to slow, and the black smoke was now pouring out of the engine. Its propeller had stopped turning. Shit, it could still blow up at any minute.
She ripped the seatbelt free and bolted for the door directly behind her. One man was there before her, grasping the handle and twisting it viciously back and forth. The rest of the passengers crowded her, pushing her into the man, who still couldn’t get the damned door open.
“Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats please.” The captain shouted over his shoulder, still wrestling with the controls. “Let the airplane come to a complete stop!”
Corrine stared through the window at the billowing black smoke. Fuck that. She shoved past the man in front of her and wrenched his hand away from the handle. She grasped it, twisted it all the way up until she felt a click then pushed.
The door popped open so fast Corrine didn’t have time to let go. It swung away, pulling her out of the plane onto the wing over the failing engine. Acrid smoke wafted around her, stinging her eyes and nose. She took a breath and coughed, eyes streaming.
The plane slowed drastically, though it bounced over the rough tufts of grass fast enough to shake Corrine until her teeth rattled. Adrenaline surged as she held her breath and jumped.
Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as President of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA. Her debut novel, Only Scandal Will Do, is the first in her House of Pleasure series, set in Georgian London. Only Marriage Will Do, the second book in the series, is set to release in mid-June 2015 from Kensington. Her medieval serial novel, Time Enough to Love: Betrothal, Betrayal, and Beleaguered, is a Romeo & Juliet-esque tale, set at the time of the Black Death. The companion short story, Beloveds, released in early June 2015. And a time travel novella, Crashing Through Time, will release in early July as part of a boxed set about seven plane crashes that lead to love called Crashing Into Love.
She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.
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