- What inspired you to write?
I am a huge Outlander fan and I was reading Diana Gabaldon’s book, Outlandish Companion, where she describes her unorthodox writing style. She develops chapter ideas and writes them, then later connects the pieces like a patchwork quilt. I have spent a lot of time writing for my various jobs, but never considered writing a novel. After reading about Diana’s strategy I was inspired to give it a whirl. Knowing that Diana could be wildly successful with such a creative (and not anal) strategy was a perfect fit for me.
- What’s the one thing that surprised you the most about finishing your first novel?
I’ve spent the last nine years working on my novel. I never thought it would take me so long to get to the end of it. Granted a move halfway across the country, a baby, major surgery, AND writing most of the second book before I decided to make it a trilogy took up a lot of that time. But seriously, nine years?
- Where did the idea for Stealing Time come from?
The basic story concept was pulled from my own experience. I moved to Florida in 2004 and three days later, on Friday the thirteenth, Hurricane Charley hit. Within six weeks four major hurricanes hit Florida. It was a very exciting summer to say the least, and the following June on a long trip up the coast the idea hit me to have that as the setting for Stealing Time. I’ve always loved the possibilities with time travel and to be on the other side as the writer of time travel was irresistible.
- What audience do you feel this would appeal to?
I’ve worked hard to make this appealing to both men and women, and have succeeded in hitting several genres. It is a science fiction novel at the heart of it because of the time travel element, but it is not your typical sci-fi novel. It weaves historical fiction elements throughout and delivers a punch of hurricane disaster tension and keeps you on the edge of your seat with a thriller mentality. Stealing Time is not a leisurely read. I hope to keep you awake way later than you intended because you can’t wait to see what happens next, and I guarantee I will make you laugh. I hope to surprise you and bring you to your knees with the ending, making you beg for more.
Book two continues with the time travel and weather themes and delves deeper into the mechanics of the traveling. I have added depth to the second book by including multiple religious and scientific theories that try to explain how the time travel works, allowing the reader to choose the one that fits their schema. Book two has a few of the same characters while adding several rich personalities including one inspired by Gerard Butler.
- What’s the one thing you want the readers of Stealing Time to take away?
I hope to steal their breath away. I also hope Stealing Time sparks the reader’s creative juices with my unique spin on time travel while bringing a sense of what it is like to live through a powerful hurricane. After writing Stealing Time I appreciate the modern trappings we all take for granted and thank my lucky stars I’m not stuck in a time where women are treated like bargaining chips to further their family fortunes, at the mercy of men at their greediest and most perverse forms.
Stealing Time Synopsis
As Hurricane Charley churns a path of destruction towards Orlando, Ronnie Andrews and her best friend, Stephanie McKay, scramble to prepare for the storm. The women separate and Ronnie seeks shelter at her boyfriend’s weather lab while Steph invites her friend Nick to stay at her house.
During the peak of the storm Ronnie is hurtled back in time to eighteenth-century London where she is caught in a web of superstition, deception, and lies in a life and death struggle to return to her own time. Steph is thrust into the middle of the hurricane to rescue her cat, but it quickly turns into a living nightmare as Steph is faced with losing everything.
Stealing Time: Book 1 in the Stealing Time Trilogy.
Chapter 1 – Stormy Weather
August 13, 2004 4:30 pm, Orlando, Florida
When Ronnie Andrews sat down on the red velvet couch, a cloud of particles let loose and floated in the sunlight like fairy dust. Her real name was Veronica, but she hated it with a passion and had changed it to the shorter version in high school to get away from the formal, stuffy sound. Now, the only time she heard it was when her mom was upset.
“Seriously Steph, how can a hurricane hit here today on my birthday?” Ronnie said to her best friend Stephanie McKay. She was one of the reasons Ronnie had moved 1,200 miles away from her mom in Virginia Beach. “I’ve only been in Florida for three days!”
“Listen,” Steph said turning up the volume on the TV. “They’re telling us where it’s going to hit.”
“Hurricane Charley is completely devastating Punta Gorda on the southern Gulf Coast of Florida as we speak. Here is the current trajectory of the storm.” The suit-clad Terry James pointed at a map of Florida. Was he wearing a toupee? His hair didn’t look quite right. “Charley is projected to hug the coast moving north and entering Tampa Bay. Governor Jeb Bush has issued mandatory evacuations for low-lying areas surrounding Tampa. If you’re in an unstable structure such as a mobile home or manufactured house you need to evacuate now.”
“Hey weather dude, tell us if it’s coming to Orlando!” Steph shook her fist at the TV.
The power and danger of Charley intoxicated Ronnie who was both excited and terrified by the storm. Part of her wanted it to be a raging nightmare, just for the dramatic effect. The other part of her wanted to go back home and hide under her childhood bed.
“Steph, that reminds me. Jeffrey has to be at the lab all night to monitor the storm and he canceled on me.” Jeffrey Brennan, Ronnie’s boyfriend, was the other reason she had moved to Orlando. They’d been dating for the past year and a half. Last March Jeffrey moved to Florida for his job in a weather lab or an applied physics lab, or something like that. Her mind usually shut off when he began talking about it so she wasn’t completely certain what he did.
“Jeffrey canceled on your birthday?” Steph made that familiar Scottish ‘auch’ of the Glaswegian variety. “Remind me again why I’m supposed to like him?”
“Steph, c’mon, I’ve moved down to be near you both. Can’t you make an effort to be nice to him? You’re the only two people I know here,” Ronnie said crossing her arms.
“I’m sorry, love, I just wish you’d find someone who isn’t so …” Steph smiled at Ronnie. “You know.”
“What, smart and handsome?” Ronnie said. It really bothered her that Steph and Jeffrey didn’t get along.
“No, I was thinking you should find someone who isn’t such a tadger.” Steph’s Scottish slang still took Ronnie by surprise, even though they’d been friends for nearly seven years.
Steph sat down and put her arm around Ronnie’s shoulders. “Listen, why don’t you pack an overnight bag and we’ll go to my house.” Ronnie’s cat Fluffy jumped on the couch wanting some love, too. Steph pet her long white fur. “It probably won’t even hit here. Just some rain and a lot of stramash over nothing.”
“You remember what happened to me during Hurricane Isabel? I don’t wanna to go through that again!” Ronnie said. That storm had hit her home town of Virginia Beach last September and power had been out for ten days with temperatures over ninety every day.
“Yes, I do. I was glad to be down here,” Steph said while giving Ronnie’s shoulder a squeeze.
The phone’s ring made Ronnie jump. She looked at the caller ID. “It’s Jeffrey.” Steph made a face and turned away to focus on the cat.
Ronnie stood up and walked a few steps into the kitchen to get a little privacy. “Hello.”
“Hey baby, Happy Birthday!” Jeffrey said. “I’m sorry I had to cancel our dinner plans for tonight.”
“It’s okay, I understand.” Ronnie said, not fully understanding but not wanting to sound hurt.
“Can you come here and spend the night?”
“You mean the lab? A few hours ago you said it was against company policy,” she said.
“Things have changed. I really need you here.”
“Oh, so now you need me there, huh? That’s an interesting way to put it,” she said. “Steph invited me to her house.” Ronnie peeked around the corner and stuck her tongue out at Steph who rolled her eyes.
“But Ron, I have a special birthday dinner for you,” Jeffrey said. They were supposed to go to Del Frisco’s, a fancy steak and seafood restaurant for her birthday. Now it would probably be sub sandwiches or something equally uneventful. Not that it really mattered. “And I have a special present for you, too.”
The heat rose in her cheeks. “I thought I wasn’t allowed to be there.” She covered the mouthpiece and whispered to Steph, “He wants me to go to his lab.”
“He does? The wee bastard,” Steph said not looking up from Fluffy.
“Ronnie, you coming or not?” he interrupted.
“If you’re going to shower me with food and expensive gifts, I might consider it. But what about Steph?” She glanced back at her friend who looked away scowling.
“Come on, the lab is a lot safer than Steph’s,” Jeffrey said. “It’s underground with its own generator, and I have all the supplies we need.” Typical of Jeffrey to miss the point about Steph’s feelings.
“Hang on a sec.” She covered the receiver. “Are you okay with me going to Jeffrey’s lab instead of your place?”
“I wish he’d make up his mind. He’s on, he’s off. Bloody hell,” Steph said.
Jeffrey always seemed to know how to get his way. “Yeah, I guess,” Ronnie said.
“So you’re definitely coming over? You’re coming here now?” he said.
“Yes, I just said I was coming. Why are you so worked up?” Usually he was cool, calm, and collected.
“I just need to know. I have a few things to prepare for you, babe.”
“I still don’t understand why you have to be at work today. Most companies are closed for the storm.” She was a little mad at him. He had hardly spoken to her since she set foot in Florida.
“Look, I’ve got one shot at testing the equipment with a storm this size and intensity. There is no reason you can’t be here testing out my equipment.”
She laughed. “Oh, you’re dirty!”
Steph set Fluffy down on the couch, stood up, and turned her back on Ronnie as she gathered her purse and the birthday gift she’d brought for her.
“But babe, you’ve gotta leave now. I’m looking at the radar and the outer bands of the storm are really close,” Jeffrey said.
“Are you sure? We just watched the news. It sounds more like it is heading north of here.”
“Charley is wobbling right now so it’s hard to say exactly what it will do. Listen, babe, I’ll make it worth your while.”
Worried about Steph now Ronnie said, “I gotta go. Tell me how to get there.”
He gave her directions and they exchanged “I love you’s.”
“So,” Steph said walking towards the door with her purse over her shoulder. “You’re going to the gobshite’s mysterious lab, are you then?”
Ronnie never completely understood her dislike of Jeffrey. “Steph, I’m sorry. Are you going to be okay?”
“I’ll be fine. Been through hunners of storms. Just don’t get yourself into a palaver over that man of yours.” She hugged Ronnie. “You’ll get your birthday pressie from me tomorrow. And for God’s sake take the K-Y this time. You don’t want your fanny sore.” They had always laughed about that word, especially when anyone talked about their fanny pack. In Scotland it meant something different.
“You’re horrible!” Ronnie smacked Steph’s arm and laughed. “But you do have a point.”
“Love, I gotta get on the roads before the skies open up and drown me.” Steph opened the door.
Ronnie hugged her friend. “I’ll call you in the morning to be sure you’re safe.”
“You be careful.” She gave Ronnie one of those hard looks that made her feel like she’d better listen.
“Ta-ta.” Steph walked quickly to her car. Her dark gray pencil skirt and crisp white sleeveless blouse flattered her hourglass figure. Ronnie wished they were parting on better terms.
The wind picked up and blew Ronnie’s long blonde hair in her face. She waved at her friend, but Steph ignored the gesture and drove away. She was mad. Ronnie would have to make it up to her tomorrow.
The sky was spectacular—a third of it was clear blue and sunny. A dark boiling cloud took up the remainder like a science fiction movie with poorly done special effects. Every shade of gray swirled and raged looking like she could reach out and touch it. The edge of the cloud, one of the outer bands of the hurricane, appeared razor sharp as it cut its way through the sky.
A combination of panic and excitement buzzed around her head. Hurricane Charley was at her doorstep—she better get out of here. Ronnie went back into the apartment and found the small bag she’d just unpacked that morning so she could fill it with a change of clothes and her toiletries. Fluffy looked at her with beautiful blue eyes framed by silky fur. What she needed was to be comforted rather than left alone in a strange new place. They had only been there a few days and Fluffy didn’t take well to change. Would Jeffrey let her bring Fluffy? Probably not. He didn’t really like cats.
For a second Ronnie considered waiting out the storm with her precious kitty, but the thought of Jeffrey’s teasing words and tan chest convinced her otherwise. She quickly set up a safe place for Fluffy to ride out the storm, “Bye, sweetie, I’ll be back tomorrow. You be good.” Fluffy stared at her with her giant sad eyes. She shut the door and tried not to think of what a bad owner she was.
Ronnie climbed in her 1996 Thunderbird, set her overnight bag on the passenger seat and pulled out the directions she’d scribbled on a scrap of paper. West on I-4—that was the one road she could find since the exit was right outside of her apartment. She backed up and nearly ran over a man, who flailed his arms angrily at her before trying to open the car door. In a panic, she leaned on the horn. This had the desired effect of startling him so he would let go. She jammed it in reverse and then peeled out of the apartment complex. When she looked in her rearview mirror she saw the man running after her.
“Well that was weird!” Ronnie said trying to calm down. Bad enough a huge storm was about to hit, but to have a crazy man attacking her car only made things worse. She turned on the radio for a distraction as well as an update of the storm. The weather report provided a snapshot of Armageddon so she turned it off while she fought to steer through the increasing winds.
On I-4 she drove towards Jeffrey’s lab and tried to shake the feeling of impending doom. A few large splats on the windshield startled her, followed by a gust of wind that shoved her car out of the lane. Ronnie overcompensated the turn and hydroplaned on the slick highway. “Crap!” She jerked the wheel in the other direction while the car fishtailed down I-4, barely missing a white Toyota and the guardrail. The driver honked at her and gave her the finger. Her heart nearly beat out of her chest.
Panic returned in full force. Would she make it there without crashing? Did the lab have a covered garage to protect her car from the storm? How would Fluffy deal with the stress of the move and now the hurricane? Who was the weird guy and did he live in the same complex as her? The questions assaulted her and she was fully worked up by the time she pulled off the highway at Jeffrey’s exit and called his cell.
He led her through a few turns to a huge building. A wave of excitement washed over her when she saw him—all six feet of his fit, lean body. His dark curly blonde hair plastered against his face from the rain and wind. It had been a month since they had been together and she felt giddy thinking of what they would do later.
She rolled down her window. “Hi honey, I’m here,” Ronnie said.
“Hi Babe.” Jeffrey leaned in to kiss her, his face wet from the rain. He smelled great. “I’m so glad you made it. It’s getting bad out here already.”
“I know. I almost got blown off the road,” she said.
“Blown, eh? That gives me an idea for later.”
“Jeffrey! You are such a perv!”
“Here scoot over, I want to drive.”
Ronnie climbed over the center console to the passenger seat and Jeffrey took the driver’s seat. He reached a security gate and inserted an ID card in the box. He parked the car in the covered employee lot and took her in the back entrance using the card to open the basement door.
“I’ve paid off LT at the guard desk to turn off the camera just while I sneak you in.” He took her bag and hoisted it over his shoulder before grabbing her hand.
They walked quickly through several corridors and reached a metal door. Jeffrey used the keypad and his security key once again. The room was about the size of her apartment living room and full of computers, monitors, and cabinets. There were no windows and there was only one door in the back of the room. Out of place in the back corner, squished between the desk and the wall, sat an inflatable mattress with sheets, pillows, and a blanket. A TV on top of the desk had weather coverage on.
Terry James, the local weatherman, nearly frothed at the mouth with excitement. “We have a new trajectory. This is very important for those who have just evacuated from the Tampa Bay area.” His face was serious, but the mystery of toupee or not toupee as Steph said, was distracting. Jeffrey set her bag down near the bed as they both listened intently.
“The mandatory evacuations from low-lying areas for the Tampa Bay area are no longer in effect. The new trajectory is here.” Terry pointed to a cone-shaped path in red and orange covering a huge swath with Orlando in the center.
“If you are in coastal or low-lying areas anywhere in the path of this storm you need to get to a shelter immediately. This is a dangerous storm, in fact, it is one of the strongest to hit southwest Florida since 1960 when Hurricane Donna devastated the area.”
Jeffrey took her hand and kissed it. “Babe.”
“Shhhhhh!” Ronnie said. Excitement and dread bubbled up in her chest.
Terry continued, “Hurricane Charley has sustained winds of 145 and gusts up to 175 miles per hour. This makes Charley a Category 4 storm. We are expecting it to weaken over land but by the time it makes it to central Florida it will still be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane with sustained winds from seventy to 120 miles per hour.”
Jeffrey stood behind Ronnie and pulled her close, his arms around her waist while they watched. “A Category 2 storm would result in damage to roofs, and poorly constructed buildings. We can expect trees to be down with extensive and perhaps total power outages. There is a potential for loss of potable water as well so fill containers with clean water to last three days.” Terry went on to detail the areas that would likely be flooded and what kind of damage to expect. Ronnie drank it in, feeling the pull of the storm, the seduction of its power.
Jeffrey turned her around. “Do you know what this means, babe?” He hugged her and picked her up off her feet. “With a direct hit I can try out my equipment and see how it handles hurricane force winds!” He set her down and kissed her. He pulled away and muted the TV. “Babe, this is really big! I’ve only used lab-simulated hurricane-force winds. The original path of the storm was supposed to miss us.” He walked a few steps to his desk. “With a direct hit I’m going to get funded as long as the equipment holds up.” He picked up a bottle of champagne and opened it.
“I’m glad you’re excited. It scares me, Jeffrey.” Ronnie jumped at the sound of the cork popping. “Dom Pérignon! Jeffrey, you’ve really gone all out!” Although it did seem like he was celebrating the storm as much as her birthday.
He handed her a plastic glass, filled another for himself, and lifted it, “A toast to the birthday girl.” Ronnie touched her glass to his. Plink. They laughed at the pitiful noise the plastic made. She took a big sip and the cool bubbly liquid slid down her throat, adding to the electricity running through her veins. “You go wash up and we’ll eat. I have a special dinner for us.” He nodded to the door at the back of the room.
Ronnie opened the door and found a small sterile bathroom with a brass drain in the middle of the floor. It smelled like paint and bleach. She closed the door behind her.
Jeffrey opened the desk drawer and pulled out a small medicine bottle and twisted the top off. He walked to the food that sat on the edge of the desk in take-out containers. Opening the Styrofoam lid, he took a plastic fork and gently lifted the crusty top of the twice-baked potato and emptied the contents of the bottle into the steamy pocket. He could hear the toilet flush. With his finger he mixed it around and gently put the potato back together. With his fingernail he marked an ‘x’ on the top of the Styrofoam and closed the tab on the container.
Ronnie washed her hands and dried them with the paper towels and opened the door.
“Here sit down.” He held out the chair. On the table sat carry-out containers from Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, the same place he was going to take her to before the storm interfered. He opened the box in front of her to reveal a feast of lobster tails, veggies, and a twice-baked potato.
“Oh man,” she said, “my absolute favorite. Thanks, babe.”
He leaned down to kiss her. “Yes, nothing but the best for Miss Andrews. Jeeves, get the lady more champagne.” Pretending to be a waiter, he poured her another glass, napkin draped over his arm.
This quelled some of her fears about moving so far from home. The awkwardness between them since he left Virginia started to evaporate. She could feel the knot in her stomach unravel a little. The champagne was helping, too.
They enjoyed the feast and talked about the storm and the new job she would be starting on Monday. Ronnie watched his hands and his mouth as he talked and ate and couldn’t help but imagine them on her. After dinner Jeffrey handed Ronnie a small box wrapped in gold foil paper.
“What wonderful wrapping, did you do it?” she asked.
“What, are you kidding? Of course not. It would look like crap if I had. Open it.” He looked like the Cheshire Cat with a huge smile and mischief in his eyes.
She slowly unwrapped the box and opened it. It was the watch—a rose gold antique watch she found in London in June with Steph on her post-graduation trip. She had just finished her master’s degree in business and wanted to tag along for Steph’s biannual trip to Glasgow, Scotland where her family lived. They had taken a long weekend and visited London. In a quaint antique shop they found this watch. She couldn’t afford it but Steph had taken a picture of her wearing it.
“It is beautiful!” Tears stung her eyes while she moved to sit on his lap so she could hug and kiss him.
“Where did you find it?” she asked. “I can’t believe it.”
“I didn’t. I stole your picture and had a replica made. It’s not exactly like the one you saw since all I had was the 2-D picture.”
“They did a great job, Jeffrey. It looks exactly like it.” She put it on her wrist and he helped fasten the safety clasp. “Definite brownie points, Jeff. When did you steal the picture?”
He smiled triumphantly. “I took it when you were in the shower the last time I was up in Virginia Beach. You didn’t notice it was missing, did you?”
“No, you sneak!” She kissed him again.
“I had the idea when you came back from your trip. I tried to get the one you saw in London but it sold before I could buy it. This one is better though—waterproof to eighty feet, extra clasp to make sure it doesn’t ever come off, and brand spanking new.”
“I wouldn’t want to swim or go spelunking with it on.” The rectangular face was made out of the rose gold as well. It was a beautiful piece.
“Oh, you can swim with it. It is not going to come off. I’d like you to wear it all the time, maybe not spelunking in a muddy cave, but all the time.” He kissed her softly again. “Think of it as part of me protecting you from the world. It’s especially made to give you good luck!”
“Aw, that’s so sweet. I’ll wear it all the time.”
Neither of them were ready for an engagement. This watch was about the closest thing she could think of to a commitment. It must have cost a lot just in gold alone not to mention the price for someone to replicate it.
“Hang on, I have to check something.” He walked over to his computer and typed for a few minutes. She watched TV but they were just going over the trajectory again. She wondered how Steph was doing and remembered Fluffy. She felt a bit sick to her stomach. Was she freaking out? And what was Steph going to do during the storm?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Blog: Blondie in the Water: http://kjwatersauthor.blogspot.com/
About me page: http://about.me/KJWaters