Award Winning Fantasy with a Twist!
I’ve joined BroadUniverse.org last fall, an organization that fosters women writing in science fiction and fantasy. I’ve really enjoyed it, not least of which because I’ve uncovered so many wonderful new stories! So over the next few month, I’d like to tell you about great new releases and their authors. First up is Heather Albano with her debut look at time travel!
Many people want to write a book, but getting one finished is whole other accomplishment. Congrats Heather! What inspired you to write Timepiece?
It’s quite a story, actually. It started when a friend of mine told me about a dream she’d had, in which a package arrived in the mail for her then-infant son. Inside the package addressed to him was a package addressed to me (how odd, she thought) and inside that was a velvet bag containing a pocket watch. Opening the pocket watch, my friend discovered the period casing contained a futuristic-looking screen cycling through images of different historical times and places. “I think I had your dream, Heather.”
I tried to write a story about me and her son and the pocket watch, including a reason for the nested packages, but I couldn’t get it to gel. A pocket watch seemed to belong to an older era anyway…so maybe this wanted to be a Victorian time travel story. Maybe steampunk—huge mechanical monsters stomping down a gaslit street? Yeah. Stomping after what? What would mechanical Victorian monsters hunt? Something natural run amuck, of course. The Victorians would totally build monstrous scientific artificial things to constrain monstrous natural things.
Okay, so where did the run-amuck natural things come from? And when? It would have to be long enough before the Victorian era for the organic monsters to become a problem, for a solution to be generated, and for the solution to become its own problem. Seventy to eighty years, say? The “Victorian era” spanned a long time, of course, but I meant the Sherlock Holmes / Jack the Ripper / Dracula / H.G. Wells part of it—so call it 1880 to 1895. What was going on in England seventy to eighty years before, say, 1885?
Five seconds later, I was scrambling for Wikipedia to look up the dates of the Battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Five seconds after that, I knew exactly what the story was about.
You’ve described the brainstorming fever that drives writers perfectly! Who are your favorite authors and why?
For time travel plots, Tim Powers, Connie Willis, and Kevin Kulp. For adapting and retelling cultural mythology, Mary Stewart, Alan Moore, Nicholas Meyer, Stephen Moffat—and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan and Kenneth Hite recently blew me away with Dracula Unredacted. For worldbuilding, Susannah Clarke and Kim Stanley Robinson. For creating complex characters that inspire a genuine emotional reaction in the reader, Ellen Kushner, Lois McMasters Bujold, and Sarah Smith. For short, sharp, heartbreaking science fiction, Kenneth Schneyer (seriously, check out The Law and the Heart). For a hilarious and disturbing mixture of the hilarious and the disturbing, Grady Hendrix.
I agree – one is hard to choose. Speaking of choices, how much research do you do and where do you get your information?
SO MUCH RESEARCH. The book list for Timepiece included the following:
I also read The Corinthian and The Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer after Timepiece was complete, and too bad, or I would have leveraged them somehow.
It’s that level of effort that separates the want-to-write from the book-finished authors! What comes next for you as a writer? What’s your end goal?
Timekeeper, the second book in the Keeping Time trilogy, will be available from Stillpoint in June, and will be followed by Timebound, completing the trilogy, in January of next year.
Right now, I’m still working on Timebound. Once I have that put to bed, I have a number of abandoned or fledgling ideas I might return to. They include an interactive dark fairytale, a non-interactive fantasy novel about a city that changes shape to grant wishes, a non-interactive near future SF novel about virtual and augmented reality, a fourth book in the Keeping Time universe (this one focused on different characters, and exploring the fascinating historical and literary personas of the Marquess of Montrose), and prequel to A Study In Steampunk (an interactive novel of mine published by Choice of Games last year). I’m not sure which, or what combination, will be first.
Thanks for sharing today, Heather. I’m looking forward to all those, starting with Timepiece!
About Timepiece –
Timepiece is the story of a girl, a time machine, Frankenstein’s monster, the Battle of Waterloo, and giant clockwork robots taking over London.
Or to phrase it in a slightly more coherent manner: In 1815, two young adults stumble upon a mysterious pocket watch that catapults them forward in time to a nightmare steampunk version of 1885, overrun by Frankenstein monsters and giant clockwork robots. This will be their future, unless they do something to stop it.
Buy Links –
About the author:
Heather Albano is a storyteller, history geek, and lover of both time-travel tropes and re-imaginings of older stories. In addition to novels, she writes interactive fiction. She finds the line between the two getting fuzzier all the time. Heather lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two cats, a tankful of fish, and an excessive amount of tea. Learn more about her various projects at: