A while back, I invited James David Clarke onto my blog to chat about his short story collection THE RUBBERBAND MAN, and his first novel MISSING TIME. Now I’m very happy to drag him back here (there may have been some kicking), to pester him with a few more questions about his latest novel TIME SPENT (amazon.com):
“If you leave me here, you won’t like what happens next!” The mystery of MISSING TIME is over. Now, the passengers of school bus 313 must deal with an even greater threat, as dangerously powerful foes are unleashed in their world. Even worse, they are plagued by memories of an event they don’t fully understand. They must piece together the threads of what happened: the rooftop, the cracks in the sky, and a strange otherworldly being. Is the bus driver’s prophecy coming true? The end is closer than you think. TIME SPENT. TIME SPENT is the sequel to MISSING TIME< and is the second volume of a three volume story called “313″. Volume 3, TIME LOST, is coming in 2014.
Welcome, Monsieur! I’d offer some refreshments, but I’m afraid everything is hiding under about 30cms of snow today, so what’s say we jump right into the questions.
1) TIME SPENT is your high-anticipated (in my book, at least) sequel to MISSING TIME. What can we expect from the second novel?
You should expect more of everything the first volume had. More characters, more powers, more danger, more flashes forward and backward in time, more terrifying villains, and most importantly, above all, more backstory on the passengers of school bus 313 and more about what makes them who they are and why they may be the absolute worst people to save the world.
2) That sounds like a pretty refreshing twist to most of the genre right now. Point one to you! Did you discover any unexpected challenges in writing a sequel? Were there elements that came more easily?
The story has been planned from day one as a trilogy, and so a lot of the ground this book was to cover I knew already going in. So that came easily to me, knowing where the characters were coming into it and where they’d end up by the final page. That much I knew. The challenge came from the fact that this book is (if possible) even MORE insane than the last book. I had already written a novel full of time jumps, invisible characters, and secret twists. Now, this book has all that, and you add alternate reality versions of characters to the mix and one or two unseen evil threats lurking behind the scenes and you have an idea of the incredible tangle I had on my hands. Of course, in my usual tradition, I just show the tangle to the readers in all its twisted glory, only to unravel it and show them where the threads begin and end at the last moment. By then, hopefully, it unspools in a way they never saw coming.
3) You certainly describe all the charms of the first book, so I, for one, am excited to see how twisted the sequel gets. Are there any characters that surprised you (e.g. someone minor from the first book, or someone you didn’t particularly like that took over more than you first planned)?
This book is filled with reversals. Characters you thought were rock solid the first time around are falling apart in the sequel. Vice versa, characters who you may have dismissed before really step up into the spotlight. I think Brandon is a good example of this, and with his drive to be a hero it fits him more readily than you might expect. Unfortunately for him, being a hero doesn’t turn out to be all it’s cracked up to be. But I digress.
4) But– but– no, you can’t do that! Well, fine. Just for being such an awful tease, let me turn it around by asking if there were any songs in particular that inspired the plot/characters/setting for TIME SPENT?
Oh god, you had to ask me that, didn’t you? I wrote a great portion of the book listening to “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus on repeat. Judge me if you must, but the song is full of heartbreak and passion and these characters have both in spades. I FEEL NO SHAME IN THIS.
5) *snicker* Fine. I’ll reserve my judgement for Book 3. I asked these on my FB page, but I liked your answer, so I thought I’d ask you again: if you could take credit for any fictional character (film or literary) who would it be, any why?
Superman was the first name that popped into my head. In creating him, I’d have created an entire genre of super-hero fiction, with endless possibilities. After 75 years, we’re still only scratching the surface of the type of literature inspired by the idea of super-powers. My series may only be a footnote to that great tradition, but it’s my footnote and I love it.
6) And so do your readers! But TIME SPENT isn’t your only focus these days, you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, as well! Tell us about your project!
It’s called THE WIZARD IN MY WINDOW, and it’s a YA fantasy adventure about a family who moves into an old house. When their young son discovers a mark in his bedroom window which he thinks looks like a wizard in a pointy hat, they conclude it’s just one more renovation project to fix up the old place. But when a book with blank pages begins showing magical objects, the items start appearing for real: a ring, a wand, a cloak, to name a few. Soon chaos erupts, and they find themselves face to face with a wizard’s greatest powers and most dangerous enemies. Think Jumanji meets The Last Unicorn!
7) Too cool. Even awesomer (yes, this is now a word) than participating in NaNo, you chose to post your daily wordage live for everyone to follow. Where can people find this and why did you decide to do it?
Well, Krista, I’m what you call an insane person. Or at least insaner (this is also now a word) than your average person. When I first created MISSING TIME, it was as an experiment on my blog. I posted chapters as they were written, and solicited immediate feedback. I got quite a good response, which inspired me to self-publish it. Now, it’s become kind of a tradition with me, and I thought it fit NaNoWriMo perfectly, so I decided to post each day’s writing immediately and see how it went.
7) Time Spent is done, NaNo project is coming along well … what’s next?
That’s not enough? You’re working me to death!! Okay, okay, I admit it, there’s a lot coming up! I’ll be jumping right into Volume 3 TIME LOST, in which the passengers of school bus 313 must deal with the consequences of the end of TIME SPENT. Then the first volume of my epic fantasy series KEEPER OF DAYS will be next up, and somewhere along the way I’ll probably be working on short stories and other odds and ends.
8) So fans of your work won’t have any shortage of work to read. Excellent! I liked this question, so I’m stealing it from you — end of a long day of wordage, what do you do to relax?
WHAT IS THIS RELAXATION YOU SPEAK OF? Oh, I read, watch television…and other old person code words for “fall asleep in a comfy chair”.
9) What is the film or book that you feel inspires your work the most?
This current series is probably most inspired by Heroes and LOST. I often compare it to them and many of my readers have drawn the same comparison. I think it not only takes structure from them, with the super-powered characters and time jumping stories, but thematically the characters with their painful backstories and damaged personalities owe a lot to those shows.
10) Where can people reach you?
Nowhere! Leave me alone, vultures! Oh, all right…mumble grumble. The best place to contact / keep up with me is my Facebook page. You can follow my writing / blogging at my Tales blog. You can also become a fan at Goodreads!
Clarke is definitely worth checking out … if you dare. But please dare. Spread the word. Thank you for coming by, sir, and best of luck to you on the halfway point of the Trilogy!
For those of you interested in such things, J. David Clarke returned the favour yesterday and peppered me with all sorts of questions about Greylands and what’s next on the agenda. You can take a read here!