BLOG HOP – Ann I. Goldfarb
Hi! I was invited to this author "Blog Hop" by Poisoned Pen mystery writer, Donis Casey. ( The Alafair Tucker Mysteries). Essentially, a number of authors share their insights with readers by answering four questions and tagging other authors. I've tagged Gale Leach and M.J. Evans. Here goes:
What am I working on now?
The Time Borrower has just been released in bookstores, online and Kindle. It’s the fourth novel in my YA “Light Riders” time travel mystery/adventure series. The best part for me is that it has been endorsed by two incredible award winning and best-selling authors – Donis Casey and Jenn McKinlay. It takes place in 13th century Scotland as its protagonist, college student Linna Sullivan, goes back in time to try to prevent the murder of a young monk. Watch out for sinister plots and unexpected twists and turns.
I just completed the first draft of the fifth novel in that same series. The Time Stealer will take readers back to the year 1750 B.C.
College senior Aeden thinks she’s got it made when all she has to do is direct a Children’s Theater play for her final project before graduating from Emerson in Boston. Unfortunately, her department head has something else in mind – adding his fourteen-year-old miscreant nephew, Wendell, to the cast.
It doesn’t take Wendell long to hack into Aeden’s iPad and uncover the secret formulas for time travel that she and her brother found years ago while cleaning out their great, great aunt’s house. Wasting no time, Wendell decides to put the formulas to use in order to find the lost city of Atlantis.
When Aeden discovers that Wendell is missing, she realizes that he has gone back to the ancient Minoan civilization on the island of Thera in the Aegean Sea. A civilization known for its brutal Ceremony of the Bulls and penchant for human sacrifice. Will she be able to return him to the 21st century or watch as he becomes the next “burnt offering” for the gods?
Crafting the first draft is a delight for my imagination, but like all first drafts, the novel will undergo revisions, edits, and proof readings. That’s the tedious, strenuous part of the process. Whenever I get an email from one of my editors I know I’m in for some serious work time.
How does my book differ from other books in its genre?
Like The Time Borrower, The Time Stealer is a genre blend of science fiction and historical fiction. When I wrote the first novel in the series, Light Riders and the Morenci Mine Murder, KIRKUS REVIEWS called it “an effective multi-genre approach of murder mystery, horror, sci-fi and Western.” That same style holds true for this work. I use the element of time travel to hook the readers as I take them through historical events and places in the past. In order to do so, I virtually immerse myself into every aspect of life in that particular era, and that means a tremendous amount of research.
Although the plot and characters are fabricated, I am compelled as an author to provide readers with historical accuracy. This novel was particularly challenging in that regard. Little is known about the Minoan civilization, including its language. The only references were found on two tablets – Linear A and Linear B, which are similar to ancient Greek. Fortunately, the incredible Minoan frescos and ceramics found on the islands of Crete and Santorini were preserved well enough to give historians and writers like me, some understanding of the culture.
The point of view shifts in this novel from twenty-something Aeden to fifteen-year-old wise guy, Wendell. It allows the reader to identify not only with both characters but with the perception that the characters have of each other. It’s like listening in to a private conversation without the guilt.
Why do I write what I do?
I grew up with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Along came Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” and I was hooked on mystery, suspense, adventure, and science fiction. Add thirty plus years of teaching middle and high school, culminating with over a decade as a middle school principal, and the “fodder” for my novels was firmly in place. I think back to those awkward and funny situations and somehow they find a way into my books.
Simply put, I love writing middle grade and YA novels that adults secretly read when no one is looking. It’s a target audience that I am familiar with and a genre that I thoroughly enjoy. That’s not to say that I don’t push myself out of the comfort zone once in a while.
Readers may be surprised to find grisly, high octane thrillers in the future.
How does my writing process work?
It begins with an idea that “marinates” in my brain for days or weeks at a time. Eventually, I piece together the characters and play around with their dialogue and personalities before I work out the actual plot. I need to get a sense of who I am working with before I can send them off to solve murders or mysteries in time.
My first novel, The Face Out of Time, was very linear, adhering to my specific notes and outlines. It drove me crazy! Then, I had the opportunity to hear J.A. Jance speak at a conference. She said, “The only person who ever required a formal outline was my high school English teacher.” In a split second, I was free!
I guess I’ve developed an eclectic approach to writing. Sometimes I plod. Sometimes I work by the seat of my pants, and sometimes I use post-its and snippets of paper strewn all over my desk to get me started on my journey.
Each book is different. I painstakingly worked out the puzzle details for The Last Tag, my story about a fifteen-year-old graffiti tagger in Phoenix who stumbles upon the remnants of an old murder, as if I was developing a secret code for Los Alamos. Not the case for Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder. I gleefully skipped through that book relishing every obstacle that the French Revolution could provide.
The Time Stealer was reminiscent of my exhilarating experience writing Fleur. Not so much with my other novels. They were demanding, annoying at times, and downright frustrating. If I could compare it to anything, it would be like my students – each one a different challenge and a different reward.
Readers sometimes ask me if I set aside a particular time of day to write and the answer is no. I grab whatever time I have. Some days the best I can do is forty minutes. Other days it’s six hours straight. I juggle my writing with my other activities, like teaching adult education in Sun City West and Surprise. Some seasons are better than others. In the hot Arizona heat, I find that I am very productive in the afternoons. Let’s face it, sitting in an air-conditioned room with a fan overhead is a whole lot better than traipsing around in 110 degrees!
New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing has always been an integral part of her world. For the past decade, she has written non-fiction for Madavor Media/Jones Publishing, but her real passion is writing mystery-suspense-adventure for young adult audiences. Time travel, the vehicle she embraces, is her hook into historical fiction and Two Cats Press is her publisher.
Ann resides with her family near the foothills of the White Tank Mountains in Arizona. She invites you to visit her website at www.timetravelmysteries.com and “LIKE” her Facebook Page – Time Travel Mysteries.
Gale Leach is the author of The Art of Pickleball, the bestselling book about the world's fastest growing sport, and four award-winning novels for children. She is currently working on a series of fantasy books for young adults. Gale lives in Arizona with her husband, two dogs, and three cats.