Wonder Boi Writes

Countdown to Timeless: What’s in a Setting? (Part 2)

Only 4 weeks until the release of Timeless!  Are you so excited?  I’m so excited.  If you pre-order it here, the book will ship as soon as it’s available, and you will get it faster than you would from any other retailers, so yeah, do that.  In the meantime, so we have so much to cover over the next four weeks!

When I first started the countdown to Timeless (way back before the Olympics) I posted a blog about part of the setting for the novel. You can check that out here. While that first part of the setting was unfamiliar to me, the second part was not. I’m hoping that it’s not unfamiliar to you either. You see, the vast majority of Timeless takes place in Darlington, Illinois.

A few of you savvy readers realized right away that Darlington, Illinois is the town where The Long Way Home takes place. And while this book is not a sequel by any means, it is definitely a spin off with plenty of crossover between the characters and setting. (Hint: You don’t have to have read one of enjoy the other, but if you haven’t read The Long Way Home, the next four weeks might be a good time to do so.)

This is the first time I’ve ever had significant crossover between novels. I’ve thrown a few hints in here or there, but never written a full appearance by an older character and certainly never reused a full setting. Going back to Darlington had its fair share of challenges, the biggest of which was getting the details right.  Since the town is a fictional mix of several small towns I know in central Illinois, I have a pretty good idea of what’s there, but I had to remember things like the names of restaurants I’d included, what neighboring towns I’d mentioned, what local landmarks, if any, I’d added for creative flare. Of course I reread The Long Way Home and jotted down some notes, but mostly I just spent a lot of time thinking about the town. I’d created it before, and even when I’d moved on to new projects, it lived on in my mind. Seasons changed, crops came in, life went on, but just as the town had lived on in Rory’s mind during her decade away, it lived on in my imagination, too. I only had to decide what I would keep the same and what I needed to build on. Then I had to make sure I did it right.

Obviously there’s some freedom to adding new places, and I didn’t have to fit everything from the first book into this one, but some things shouldn’t change. For instance, people’s homes needed to remain largely the same. Beth’s house couldn’t just go from a farmhouse on the edge of town to an apartment near the college. Also the distances of locations relative to one another had to remain the same.  For instance, I had to use the same highways to get to St. Louis and that drive had to take the same amount of time. Then, given what I knew about those distances, I had to figure out how long it would take to get to a town that hadn’t actually appeared in The Long Way Home but had been alluded to.

Another continuity issue in setting a new book in the same place as an older one was making sure it was populated with the same people. I had to remember that Rory had green eyes and Beth’s hair was curly. At one point I had to remember specific timeline details about Beth’s parents’ death (you will have to read the book to see why). I had to comb through The Long Way Home to remember any details about their pasts, especially their time in high school, since Stevie (the main character in Timeless) would have graduated two years behind them. I had to constantly be aware of how much time had passed since The Long Way Home ended and the amount of time that had passed in their lives since Beth and Rory had last seen Stevie. The same was true for minor characters like Edmond and Miles.  I hope readers will be happy to see how they’ve evolved over the last few years.

Of course all this overlap was one of the rewards, too. I got to visit with Rory and Beth a lot over the course of writing Timeless. They play a big part in the early and late action, and it was fun to catch up with them.  I enjoyed seeing the two of them in their lives together and thinking about who they have become and how they’ve settled into being an out couple in a small town. It was also fun to get back into those characters’ mindsets, to think about how they would handle the challenges faced by my new characters, Jody and Stevie.  Stevie and Rory, in fact, are often set up as foils to one another early on. Because I knew Rory so well, thinking about the way Stevie sees the same things differently helped me develop them both in relation to one another.

Having such a well developed and well loved cast already populating the periphery of the story anchored me to Timeless from the very beginning.  It allowed me to sink back into streets I’ve traveled before and draw from the strength of characters I knew I could depend on. That familiarity gave me the time, energy, and freedom to focus on creating some new characters and a new romance all their own.  I’m very happy with this blend of old and new, and I hope that when you get a chance to read Timeless, you are too.


March 5, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. […] I really, really hope you will.  You see, I’ve told you about and the settings in NYC and Darlington.  I told you about the cover: Front and back. I even told you about my new author photo.  Many of […]

    Pingback by Countdown to Timeless: Time to order! « Wonder Boi Writes | March 12, 2014 | Reply

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