A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
There’s a surprising amount of time travel involved in being an author. This isn’t because my Earth Girl trilogy is science fiction set nearly 800 years in the future. The trilogy doesn’t feature time travel, it doesn’t demand a lot of scientific knowledge, and it doesn’t focus on complex technology. It’s about a girl who is dismissed by twenty-eighth century society as not just a second class citizen, but barely human. It tells the story of her battle to achieve equality and acceptance.
The fact is that almost all authors, whenever and wherever their books are set, have to do some time travelling. When you’re writing, you need to know your characters intimately. You have to fully understand their goals, their feelings, and their reasons for the decisions they make, but characters don’t remain static during the course of a book or a series. Things happen to them that change their opinions, their aims, and their loyalties.
Take the example of Pride and Prejudice. During the course of the story, Elizabeth’s feelings about Darcy go through some drastic changes. As Elizabeth light-heartedly says near the end of the book. “Perhaps I did not always love him so well as I do now. But in such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable. This is the last time I shall ever remember it myself.”
In my Earth Girl trilogy, my main character goes through a huge number of drastic experiences. Jarra has moments of blind anger, love, fear, uncertainty, triumph and despair. There are points when things spiral out of control, she sees people she cares about getting hurt because of her actions, and she wishes she’d never started the whole thing. At times, she hits her limit and is on the edge of breaking down under the strain, but through the books she grows in strength.
So when I was working on the trilogy, whenever I went back to revise an earlier chapter or book, or even answered a reader question about an event in the trilogy, I had to make sure that I was writing about the Jarra that existed at that particular point in time. The one who felt like giving up, the one who was terrified because her whole world was in danger, or the one who wanted to shout defiance at the people who despised her. Not only that, but every one of the other characters in the trilogy was going through their own character arcs too, caught up in the turmoil surrounding Jarra and being changed by it.
In my example from Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth is aware of how her opinions about Darcy have changed. There’s a moment in the final book in my trilogy, Earth Flight, when Jarra is hit by a similar awareness.
“The background chatter of the class abruptly stopped, and everyone turned to look at him. A Major standing in a characteristically Military pose, his left arm raised in front of him as he gazed at the lookup on his left sleeve with a grim expression. I felt a stab of shock, remembering the Deltan boy I’d met at the start of this year, and realizing how the last few months had changed him, had changed both of us. My Deltan wasn’t a boy any longer.”
So there’s a lot of time travelling involved in writing. Once I finished the trilogy, a lot of readers wanted to know more about the background of the characters, so I went back to the future again to write Earth 2788, a set of prequel stories about the characters. I was sufficiently caught up in one of those stories, to continue it and write a prequel novella too. Earth and Fire features a slightly younger, more inexperienced and uncertain Jarra. She’s living a restricted, regimented life in a residential home. There are curfew roll calls, limited privacy, and room sensors monitoring her movements, but she still manages to get into a lot of trouble.
I’m working on a couple of new projects now. One is set in the same universe as the Earth Girl trilogy, and the other is an unrelated story. I’m still going back to the future; still travelling in time.
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Janet Edwards lives in England. As a child, she read everything she could get her hands on, including a huge amount of science fiction and fantasy. She studied Maths at Oxford, and went on to suffer years of writing unbearably complicated technical documents before deciding to write something that was fun for a change. She has a husband, a son, a lot of books, and an aversion to housework.
Find out more about her and her EARTH GIRL trilogy at www.janetedwards.com