Today, I would like to welcome Andy Gavin, author of 'Untimed,' to the blog.
Typically, Untimed began from a fusion of ideas. Lingering in my mind for over twenty years was a time travel story about people from the future who fell “downtime” to relive exciting moments in history (until things go wrong). I worked out a time travel system but had no plot or characters. Separately, in 2010, as a break from editing The Darkening Dream, I experimented with new voice techniques, especially first person present. I also read various “competition.” One of these was The Lightning Thief (the first Percy Jackson novel), which has an amazing series concept (if a slightly limp execution). I love mythology and history, and liked the notion of something with a rich body of material to mine. I wanted an open ended high concept that drew on my strengths, which brought me back to time travel.
Some of the mechanics from my earlier concept merged well with a younger protagonist, voiced in a visceral first person present style. I started thinking about it, and his voice popped into my head. I pounded out a chapter not too dissimilar from the first chapter of the final novel. Then the most awesome villain teleported into the situation. I can’t remember how or why, but it happened quickly and spontaneously. Tick-Tocks were born (or forged).
Which character was the most interesting to write?
Untimed’s single first person POV is Charlie, and he was very fun to write. He calls things as he sees them, and given his basic naiveté, that’s pretty funny. We’re inside his head, and nothing is really sacred there. This can also be contrasted with what he does and says, which is sometimes not as bold as he thinks. Dialog-wise, his love interest, Yvaine, is also a blast because she’s incredibly direct and not afraid to work it.
What are your top 3 time travel destinations?
Personally, I’d love to visit the ancient world, mostly the great cities. Rome in different eras (Republican, Imperial, etc.). Egypt during the peak of the New Kingdom. Pericles’ Athens. Justinian’s Constantinople. Alexander in Babylon. All good stuff. We can bet that Charlie will be heading downtime sometime in the future… uh, his meta-future that is.
If you could travel through time to witness any event or to hang out with any person, where would you go and whom would you visit?
Alexander the Great. Conquering half the world is just too cool to resist. Plus, he knew how to party.
If your book was being turned into a movie, who would play each part?
The hugo star, Asa Butterfield, feels a lot like Charlie. Chloë Grace Moretz would make a great Yvaine, or perhaps Britt Robertson. The Tick-Tocks, they’d be CG, as their faces are masks. I always saw Donnie as a younger version of Tim Roth, but he’s much younger, of course. Maybe Jessica Biel for Aunt Sophie. A lot of the others are character actors. Untimed is really about Charlie and Yvaine first and foremost.
What was the most inspirational book/author you ever read?
So many. Benford’s Great Sky River made me want to integrate computers into our brains (when I applied to med school they disabused me of this notion). My personal philosophy (which is unusual to say the least) is in no short order influenced by hard science fiction. And I wish I was a wizard (but sometimes being a computer programmer or author is close enough). On a more serious note, my extensive history reading gives me broader perspective on novelty and human nature than my less read brethren. Nothing is really new in the world. A friend recently pointed out the rhetorical advice of some self-help guru, which I realized was regurgitated Socratic philosophy.
What are you reading right now?
A bunch of things, mostly non-fiction. William Goldman’s Adventures in the Screen Trade and a book on artisanal cheese making. I pound through stuff fast. Fiction-wise, I need to finish The Akhenaten Adventure by P.B. Kerr, I got to 90% and then put it down because it was paper (I went out of town – which means Kindle only).
What other projects are you currently working on?
Right now, I’m writing two more novels and adapting Untimed into a screenplay. The new books are the Untimed sequel and a totally separate short novel that involves old school fairies and iambic pentameter.
What is something many fans may not know about you?
I’m a ridiculous foodie and wine guy (I blog about it here), to the level of being a certified sommelier and attending 27 course truffle diners. Yet, I also have a secret weakness for “comfort” food (particularly candies) like Skittles and Spicettes.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Untimed is aimed at anyone who likes a rip roaring adventure in the tradition of the great 80s adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Arc. I wanted a lightning paced romp that showed unfamiliar takes on familiar places, times, and people. Charlie is 15, but slightly younger readers will probably appreciate the action, and adult readers enjoy the well thought out time travel system and carefully worked historical implications. Charlie’s voice is frank and compelling, but light hearted with an edge, and I dance across serious themes without getting too heavy. It’s PG-13, no racier than today’s network teen shows.
One of my major agenda’s was to show the past in a fun but accurate manner. History doesn’t have to be boring, and while situations and society changes, people stay the same. People in the past are just as human, but things really have improved in many ways. Charlie, as a contemporary kid, serves as our representative, experiencing different times first hand –up close and personal with chamber pots.
Andy Gavin is a serial creative, polymath, novelist, entrepreneur, computer programmer, author, foodie, and video game creator. He co-founded video game developer Naughty Dog and co-created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. He started numerous companies, has been lead programmer on video games that have sold more than forty million copies, and has written two novels.
His first book, The Darkening Dream, has been well-received by fans and critics alike. Publisher’s Weekly called it “gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying.” Untimed is an even more ambitious follow-up. It is a lavish production with a cover by acclaimed fantasy artist Cliff Nielsen and twenty-one full page interior illustrations by Dave Phillips.
Follow Andy Gavin:
ISBN: 9781937945053 ebook, 9781937945046 paperback, 9781937945039 hardcover
Release: December 19, 2012
Untimed Book Summary:
Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.
As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.
Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.
When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it. And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future!
Link to excerpts from Untimed:
'Untimed' is available to purchase on Amazon.
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