1. What drew your interest to time travel?
When I was younger, the primary attraction was just to be able to see the famous events of history. As I have gotten older, I have become more attracted to the idea of being able to change the past.
While it would be tempting to try and change some of the big events—presidential assassinations, wars, deaths—there’s an even stronger desire to just be able to go back and correct my own mistakes. To take back the words that hurt, to make some different choices, to make little changes here and there. The problem (besides the basic science of it not being possible!) is that in changing one thing there might be unforeseen repercussions that change my present.
2. What types of books do you like to read? Why?
I tend to be drawn to novels about average people who are in over their heads. From little hobbits who undertake the task of saving the world to the lone cowboy who fights weather and outlaws to establish a home in the west. It’s probably because I think of myself as very ordinary but would like to think I could do something great if the circumstances pressed me.
3. Do you have a favorite author or one whose work has influenced you?
My very favorite author is Louis L’Amour (as you might have guessed from my last answer). I love his ability to describe a setting so well that I feel like I’m right there in the saddle, needing a drink of water because of the hot desert sun.
I have to give a “shout out” to some other favorites who have influenced me with their writing and storytelling abilities: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Tony Hillerman.
4. Do you have any writing rituals? Do you prefer to write during the day or at night?
No real rituals other than that I put on some instrumental music. I can’t write and listen to lyrics at the same time, but I have to have music. Especially prefer the works of John Williams and James Horner.
I do most of my writing during the day, just because I’m a day person, but whenever I really get the bug (or in the groove, or however you want to put it) I write day and night until the wave passes.
5. What inspired First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch?
A conversation long ago with my father. We were discussing time travel (probably after watching a Star Trek rerun) and my father said something about going back to the revolutionary era and what if there hadn’t been a Patrick Henry, could/would we be that hero? The idea percolated for years before boiling over into First Time. Patrick Henry was no longer a part of the story, but the idea of a modern person changing the life of someone in the past—and changing the future as a result—stayed.
In the process, the story morphed. One of the standard questions of time travel speculations has always been whether one could go into the past and change the present. In most of them, the person who does so changes our present, often into something terrible or unrecognizable. I wondered what sort of world might have existed before time travel that could be changed into this one.
6. Can you tell our readers a little bit about Fitch?
Garison Fitch is an almost perfect person, or so he seems at first. Athletic, incredibly smart, good-looking. But the reality is that—due to the death of his parents when he was fairly young—he is emotionally and socially stunted, almost like an adolescent in some ways and unable to relate to other people. He wants to get to know people (especially a young woman named Sarah) but doesn’t know how to really make friends with them. When he lands in the eighteenth century, he sees it as his chance to start over and be the person he always dreamed of being.
7. Can you tell us about one of your favorite scenes to write?
When Garison returns to the twenty-first century, he encounters a woman he has never met who claims to be his wife. I enjoyed writing that scene because both characters in it are facing what seems to be an irreconcilable reality. It was fun to explore their emotions and bring about something of a resolution.
8. If you could have dinner, coffee, or drinks with one of your characters, who would you choose and where would you go?
I would like to sit down in the tavern in the book with Garison back when Sarah was still waiting tables (see how I managed to get together with two of my characters, instead of just one?) and have him tell me some more about the world he grew up in.