Tammie Clarke Gibbs on Writing Time Travel

The Evolution of A Novel

By Tammie Clarke Gibbs

Well, I certainly cannot presume to know how every author determines what they will write or how they will develop their premise. I can tell you how my debut novel, ISLAND OF SECRETS evolved. If there is one question I believe authors are most often asked, I’d have to say it’s “where did you come up with the idea for your book.” That question is commonly a part of interview questions, in chats and comes up frequently in casual conversations.

ISLAND OF SECRETS was inspired by a very unusual family crest I found in a family history book. It was pretty morbid and had a gruesome story to go along with it. I won’t go into the details because that would be a spoiler. Let’s just say the crest was a bloody palm holding a ship up to land. When I saw it and read the story attached the premise for my novel began to form.

I had a problem. I love to read and I love to read most anything. Deciding what genre to write first was a bit challenging. I absolutely love time travel romances. The very first time travel I read was A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude Deveraux. Since then I’ve heard many readers complain they didn’t like the ending, but as disappointing as it might have been, I was hooked on the genre. I believe time travel romance is a special form of fantasy and offers the reader an opportunity to connect with a bygone era through the experiences of the hero and heroine.

But, as much as I love time travel, I also really enjoy a good gothic romance. I read my first Gothic Romance shortly after I graduated from high school. I met a lovely lady at a writer’s conference I attended just two weeks after high school graduation. Her name was Andrea Parnell and she was unpublished at the time. We became fast friends and she let me read a sample of her work-in-progress. That was my first glimpse at a gothic romance novel and again I was hooked. Fortunately for me, Andrea became published shortly after the conference and I had the privilege of finishing the novel I’d read the sample of.

Later, I started trying to decide what I wanted to write. I read across many genres, but still came back to my love for time-travel and gothic romance. Then it occurred to me how interesting it would be if a modern heroine traveled back and ended up in a very gothic feeling period of time and circumstance. My mind went back to that haunting crest and the story I’d read about it. I soon discovered what a perfect fit my idea was. My debut novel is my effort to blend the two genres into a very unique book.
Of course, I love a good mystery and crave suspense that will keep me turning the page. It was natural for me to want my readers to have that same experience. ISLAND OF SECRETS is a wild ride and I don’t know of another novel anything like it. It absolutely breaks most of the rules and blurs the lines between the genres. In other words if you look for novels that barely pull you along, those that are predictable, ISLAND OF SECRETS might not be the one for you.

So now that I’ve shared with you how ISLAND OF SECRETS evolved into the novel it is, I’ll leave you with a few things to think about…What would you do if you found a note of warning dated hundreds of years before you were born and it was addressed to you? What would you do if someone time traveled and you were left behind to face the consequences? What would you do on an ISLAND OF SECRETS?


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