June 24, 2013

On the Fifth Element

pinterest: tempus regina
Goodness, but you readers have a heap of questions!  I've enjoyed watching them flood in, and I'm trying to keep track of them in an orderly way so none fall through the cracks.  If I miss any, be sure to give me a sharp jab with the elbow.  (I'm particularly gratified to see the Assassin getting so much attention - though I still refuse a straight answer to any questions about his identity, his love-interest or -interests, who he works for, and probably his goal.  Which I think may have weeded out half the questions.  He will, however, be getting a post of his own soon with a few half-answers for you, so don't despair!)

I'm not taking the questions in chronological order, but I am trying to give them some sort of order and reply to the similar ones at once.  The most foundational seemed to be the question of time-travel, so I thought I would address those first and see if I could clear the matter up a little.

how does Regina travel back in time?

My word.  I've never actually said.  Huh!  Anyhow, the time-traveling device in Tempus Regina is an object that looks like a pocket watch and which is "set" much as one might set a typical clock; apart from the perfection of the workmanship, there is at first glance nothing very remarkable about it.  Its history is explored in a little more detail within the scope of the story, of course.

I don't remember why I chose a pocket watch, except perhaps that I've always been fascinated with them.  There is something enchanting, something mysterious and magical, about the working of all those tiny gears for keeping track of time - even more mysterious and magical after reading a book like Longitude or watching, as I just did recently, as vivid a movie as Hugo.  It's astounding to see the lengths to which men have gone in order to chart the skies and the passing of time, amazing to just glance at their ingenuity in capturing something so vast.  And then to shrink all of that intricacy down to something the size of a pocket watch: that confounds me. 

re: the time-travel, do you adhere to any strict rules and/or address the cause-effect paradoxes involved, or in true Whovian fashion do you just use the concept and ignore the paradoxes until one of them happens to make a convenient plot hook?

You would ask this.  You would.

Short answer: Mostly I ignore.  It's so much easier.

Long answer: I can honestly say that since I don't watch Doctor Who, any similarities are both unintentional and very unfortunate.  At least there aren't any blue boxes involved.  I should probably take out the sonic screwdriver during the editing process, though...

There is a helpful graphic (which looks as though it might have been created by the XKCD guy, though I don't think it was) on Pinterest that outlines three theories of time travel.  Theory Number One is the Fixed Timeline, wherein the characters may travel back in time, but the future they leave remains unchanged and cannot be changed by their actions in the "past."  Their actions are already a part of history and cannot be finally altered.  Theory Number Two is the Dynamic Timeline, where the actions of characters who have gone back in time have definite effects on the future they've left.  Kill your grandmother, you die too.  That sort of jazz.  Theory Number Three is Multiverse and deals with parallel/alternate timelines, and I don't mess with that, so we'll leave it alone.

Tempus Regina is primarily a fixed timeline story, where actions are integrated, as it were, into history.  However, there is also tension between that and the possibility of a dynamic timeline, since certain characters cannot know how their actions will affect the future (or if the actions will have an effect at all).  Can a character die before being born?  If someone kills her own father, will she be destroying herself?  What's happening to Kay while Regina is gallivanting in the past?

Based on our own linear thinking, I don't believe time travel would be possible because of all the paradoxes it creates.  You're faced with one at every turn.  Time "travel" would have to be, not actual physical travel, but a mental ability to "see" all times without actually affecting them.  Even if you try to get around the linear idea (there are two competing theories presented in Tempus Regina, neither of which I actually adopt, though I would enjoy seeing readers duke it out over them), you would still only end up with some sort of cosmic pretzel as proposed in the extremely highbrow "Kate & Leopold." 

...so yes, for the most part I ignore.


  1. Of course I would. It's what I do.

    Since it's relevant, I'll mention that I don't watch Dr. Who either; I gave the reboot a few episodes and was less than impressed, partly because it seemed like they played fast and loose with the time-travel paradoxes (paradoxi?) most of the time only to have them be terribly important when convenient to the narrative tension. I could be wrong, though.

    As far as it goes, I'll say that I find time travel a very difficult device to use well - by which I mean constructing a compelling narrative that acknowledges the refractory nature of the subject without fracturing too much. To my mind the works that come off the best are the ones that use the device only a means to create juxtaposition, so that the narrative doesn't need to address the issues (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court), or the ones that throw logic to the solar winds and just have grand fun with the whole thing (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure). Either of which you might be doing. Or not. In any event, good luck.

    1. I didn't realize (I'm not sure how you can "not realize," but somehow I managed) just what sort of tangle I was getting myself into when I first started Tempus Regina. But - whaddya know? - time travel has turned out to be darn difficult to write! All the plot points have to square. It's most irritating to have this brilliant idea only to realize the timeline wouldn't work.

      "Or not" basically describes the story: it isn't plain juxtaposition, and it isn't grand fun. (Well, it is fun. But not that sort of fun. Just fun for me.) I guess it's a dirty squid, as they say in the Latin. Maybe one of these days, when I've gotten the second or maybe the third draft done, I'll send it to you and you can see what you think.


  2. What is this treachery??? You must watch Doctor Who. You must. Begin. Now. Maybe... The Snowmen episode (that one is pretty much my favorite one... though you might want to watch the Angels Take Manhattan first) or Blink, or A Christmas Carol (good episode), or the Christmas Invasion...

    1. I'm afraid Doctor Who just doesn't do anything for me. I watched a couple episodes of the Tenth Doctor, but while Tennant is a fine actor and amusing, it didn't grab me. I'm not really Whovian material!

  3. On reflection, I don't believe I've ever read any story with time-travel in it at all! Only in That Hideous Strength there is a tiny, tiny bit of that when (was it Merlin?) traveled to 'modern' times... but it is really quite different, I suppose. And Narnia too, but that's not strictly time-travel. I don't know. But I must say Tempus Regina is doing much the same thing as Wordcrafter and the Sea Fever novels have done for me, in that my impatience at having to wait to read them is growing hourly as my curiosity and interest in the tales grow by leaps and bounds. At first Tempus Regina seemed like an intriguing story which I wanted to read simply because you're writing it (and because I love how you always write!), but overall it was quite the complete mystery to me. Now - well, now, I am getting interested in the book for its own sake. Thank you for explaining this time-travel business more clearly, Abigail, or in this case less clearly ;).

    Ooo, and you watched Hugo? How did you like that movie? I don't know much about it, but when I discovered that Howard Shore was the OST composer, I've listened to the music and it is BEAUTIFUL!! I wasn't so sure if the movie is good, but it piqued my interest. Is it worth watching? What's it about?

    1. I haven't read much time-travel either, as a matter of fact. I'm planning on picking up H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, it being an iconic work and all that; and now that I am almost done with Tempus Regina, I will probably try to find some other similar books.

      I did enjoy "Hugo"! Plot-wise it was not the most brilliant movie ever directed, but the special effects and cinematography were beautiful. I especially enjoyed the details and mechanics - the watches and the workings of the automaton that Hugo, the boy, is trying to fix. Essentially it is the story of an orphan who keeps the clocks running in the Paris railway station, and his discovery of a connection between his deceased father, the "mechanical man" his father was repairing, and a mysterious toy-maker who has a booth in the station. The beauty of the picture itself is, I think, its greatest charm, but I would recommend it.

  4. I'm sold. Tempus Regina sounds like something I'd stay up till 3 a.m. reading, bespectacled eyes soaking in page after page. Time travel via pocket watch! Perfection.

    1. Katie, you make my day(s?). I really think you'll like this story. It seems pretty YOU, if I do say so myself.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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