Today I am so pleased to welcome Libby Drew to Joyfully Jay for Time Travel Week. Libby wrote one of my absolute favorite time travel books (and one of my overall 2014 favorites), Paradox Lost. Today she is going to talk to us about writing time travel stories. She has also brought along some copies to give out as part of our big Time Travel Week Giveaway! Please join me in giving Libby a big welcome!
With the past century’s unprecedented advances in science, isn’t it possible that time travel is merely waiting to be discovered? Theories abound. Einstein, for example, believed time was only an illusion and that gravity could bend it. On the other side of the argument is physicist Lee Smolin, who suggests that time is real, rather than the illusion Einstein’s theory makes it out to be. Then you have the scientists at NASA, who envision time travel to be possible with space-time wormholes.
I’m no physicist. I managed a D in university-level Calculus, and that was the end of my relationship with higher math. Life sciences got me excited, not physics. Yet give me a good science fiction book, and I’ll happily immerse myself for hours. As a teenager, I slept with Wells’ The Time Machine under my pillow.
Paradox Lost sprang from that love. I penned several posts on time travel while originally promoting the book, but I never touched on the research side of the project. Yes, there’s actual science in there! Theoretical, but still. I’ll never forget the evening I joined a live chat with a handful of Carnegie Mellon students, friends from my nephew’s quantum mechanics class. If any sort of entertainment calls for a bowl of hot popcorn, it’s listening to educated and intelligent people debate the existence of hypothetical consequences from hypothetical scientific theory. The conversation drove to me to seek out Advil and a Merlot chaser, but I came away with a good sense of this whole time travel issue.
In a nutshell: Anything is possible. Nothing is proven.
This lesson couldn’t have come at a better time, because while I wanted to write a time travel story, I also wanted it to be fundamentally different from anything else in the genre. To accomplish that, I read and researched until my brain smoked, then settled on an unpopular plot premise—the absence of time travel paradoxes. Simply, the idea that a time traveler would be unable to change the events of the past, and if they tried, the “universe” would prevent them from succeeding.
Hey, it’s science. Russian physicist Igor Novikov believes in it. Novikov’s principle asserts that if an event exists that would give rise to a paradox, or to any “change” to the past whatsoever, then the probability of that event is zero. It would thus be impossible to create time paradoxes. (Which makes for juicy plot ideas.)
And my time machine? There’s science there too. Modern time travel research suggests a doughnut-shaped vacuum might bend space-time upon itself using focused gravitational fields to form a closed time-like loop. This, and ongoing research at the site of the Large Hadron Collider, helped form the blueprint for the time machines used in my book.
You’ll find physics behind the ideas in Paradox Lost. And quantum mechanics. And probably more science than I could learn in a lifetime, but it all paves the way for more believable science fiction. Twenty years ago, who could have guessed an iPhone 6 would be reality and not fantasy? Maybe twenty years from now, we’ll be traveling back in time, enjoying guided tours of history’s great events, just as the characters in Paradox Lost do.
We’re on the cusp of so much. Even, maybe, time travel.
Time travel tour guide Reegan McNamara’s job—taking eager tourists whenever they want to go—is usually a breeze. A trip back to 2020 to watch a world-changing speech seems no different, until a woman runs away from his tour group before the jump home. Now her tycoon husband is demanding her safe return—or Reegan will lose more than just his job.
PI Saul Kildare’s business is running on borrowed time. Due to a messy break with the police, he can’t get a referral to save his life. When an enigmatic stranger bangs on his door one night and promises a windfall for a missing-person case, it seems too good to be true. But the two men have an immediate connection, and Saul can’t pass up the chance to spend more time with Reegan, even if he is clearly hiding something.
Saul knows he shouldn’t trust Reegan, and Reegan knows he can’t get involved with Saul. But as their attraction evolves into feelings neither can deny, will they have the strength to take a leap of faith – together?
Libby glimpsed her true calling when her first story, an A.A. Milne /Shakespeare crossover, won the grand prize in her elementary school’s fiction contest. Her parents explained that writers were quirky, poor, and often talked to themselves in supermarket checkout lines. They implored her to be practical, a request she took to heart for twenty years, earning two degrees, a white-collar job, and an ulcer, before realizing that practical was absolutely no fun.
Today she lives with her husband and four children in an old, impractical house and writes stories about redemption, the supernatural, and love at first sight, all of which do exist. She happens to know from experience.
Libby’s State of Mind received rave reviews for being fast, clever, and relentless and was nominated for a Bookie Award for Best M/M Novel of 2011. 40 Souls to Keep, Libby’s third novel, has been described as intense and heart-poundingly good and was praised by Publishers Weekly for maintaining a high level of suspense.
An avid supporter of gay rights, Libby donates her time to the Trevor Project and organizations that work to support marriage equality.