Nicole Valentine joins us today in celebration of A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity. I first got a peek at this brilliant middle grade novel when Nicole and I were studying for our Masters of Fine Arts, and I am thrilled that you too will be able to read it soon. It’s coming out on October 1st!
Nicole writes about things that fill her with wonder, “the times where science falls short of explanation and magic has room to sneak in.” And have no doubt, there is plenty of magic and wonder in A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity—plenty to go around for young and old readers alike. I fell in love with character after character. The narrator imparts aphorisms to live by. The story’s key to changing history itself is wondrous.
For writers, there is also plenty of inspiration for how to write fantasy and sci-fi. Nicole’s use of weather at that oh-so-difficult-to-write transition where the protagonist must believe the unbelievable is masterfully done. If you are struggling with your own real world-to-fantasy transition, be sure to pick up A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity. There is a lot to learn from what Nicole has done.
Twelve-year-old Finn is used to people in his family disappearing. His twin sister, Faith, drowned when they were three years old. A few months ago, his mom abandoned him and his dad with no explanation. Finn clings to the concrete facts in his physics books—and to his best friend, Gabi—to ward off his sadness. But then his grandmother tells him a secret: the women in their family are Travelers, able to move back and forth in time. Finn’s mom is trapped somewhere in the timeline, and she’s left Finn a portal to find her. But to succeed, he’ll have to put his trust in something bigger than logic.
In addition to writing, Nicole teaches workshops at the Highlights Foundation and is the founder of steaMG.org, The Middle-Grade Sci-fi Authors Alliance. She joins us today from Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and daughter, two dogs named Merlin and Arthur, and two cats names Tink and Pickwick. Here she is, with her own words, to tell us What Was on Nicole Valentine’s . . .
Scrivener (i.e., how did she pull off Finn’s impressive belief in the unbelievable): I used a lot of Scrivener’s functionality to keep my timelines straight. I had a color coding system for my scenes and characters so I could track who was in each timeline and who was “doubling” in each scene. I can’t really explain that without going into deep detail about the book, but when you’ve got characters hopping universes you really have to keep watch. Some of them would sneak up on me, and I’m the author! I’m also a big fan of Scrivener’s character and setting sheets. I like to add more fields to them and add picture inspiration. I often put the laptop away entirely and write scenes longhand. I use a fancy fountain pen. It forces you to think differently.
Mind as she wrote: Oh, so much. My own childhood and my family, what it feels like to lose someone close to you and how it changes your perception of time. Time travel is very much a metaphor in this story. I think children who have experienced grief will recognize that. Grief automatically turns us into time travelers. We no longer can reside only in our timeline. We find ourselves drifting into the past or trying desperately to pull that person into the future with us, to show them all they have missed.
List of greatest challenges: This Traveler’s greatest challenge? TIME. There is never enough of it. The more I learn how to manipulate it, the more I seem to need.
Schedule: I used to be a late night writer but in the last five years or so that has changed. I do most of my writing now in the morning hours when my mind is still fresh from dreaming. There is something about being so close to dreaming, you’re still residing there on the threshold for a bit. It’s especially good for writing fantasy and sci-fi.
Arm: My arm? I see what you’re doing. You’re baiting me for some hawk talk, aren’t you? Lately there have not been enough birds on my arm. I’ll be heading back to my favorite falconry school in a few weeks to fix that. Fellow Vermont College of Fine Arts alum and author Daphne Kalmar (A Stitch in Time and the upcoming Stealing Mt. Rushmore) will be coming with me. She’s joining me for my Manchester, Vermont launch at Northshire Books on October 19th so… of course we’re fitting in a lesson! I’m really looking forward to this signing event because it’s a bit like launching my book inside of it. Dorset is the next town over and my novel is set there. That area of Vermont is my family’s favorite Fall vacation spot. I wish I could take credit for dreaming up the magical setting, but truly, all I did was capture what is already there. It’s a wonderful place.
Laptop: New content for steaMG.org, an article I’m writing about my favorite new five middle grade books and a picture of my dogs, Merlin and Arthur.
Back porch: Neglected flowers. I haven’t had much time for gardening this summer.
Writing desk: UFO research. Another book. You’ll just have to wait. 😉
Kitchen Table: Crumbs and two half empty cold coffee mugs.
Twitter: Nerdy science jokes and the occasional plea for Scotland to adopt me as a citizen.
Mind these past few weeks: That somehow I need to learn some new time manipulation. I need to know how to slow all this down so I can soak it in and enjoy every moment before it all goes whooshing by.
Thank you so much, Nicole!
If you would like to order A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity, which is already a Junior Library Guild Selection, simply click on the image below.
Sandra Nickel Sandra Nickel Sandra Nickel Nicole Valentine Nicole Valentine Nicole Valentine