When I wrote TimeSplash, I never really considered doing a sequel. I put a hook in, just in case, but it definitely was not my plan. But over the past couple of years, so many people have asked when “the next one” is coming out, I started thinking that maybe I should.
I wrote a short story prequel once (“Party Time”) and a fifty-years-later short story (“Out of Time”) which I have never shown anyone – I did it just for ‘closure’, so Jay and Sandra would stop rattling around in my head. But the second novel has always been something I didn’t really want to do. The thing is this, the events that overtook and overwhelmed Jay and Sandra in TimeSplash were the kind of thing that happens to someone once in a lifetime (if you’re unlucky enough). To have them caught up in the mayhem again just wouldn’t seem realistic (if you can use such a word in this context!) Of course, I could set another book in the same “world” but with different characters – but who would want to read a TimeSplash novel without our two heroes? Who would want to write it?
Yet there were things in TimeSplash that really needed revisiting. I left the relationship between Jay and Sandra hanging. I left the world in serious jeopardy. There were dark hints about dangerous forces behind the scenes. There was also the problem of America.
In TimeSplash, the global depression that followed peak oil was a catastrophe for most countries. The USA in particular suffered very badly and right-wing religious forces – already strong there – saw their chance to seize power and to consolidate it ruthlessly. If you haven’t read TimeSplash, imagine the world of The Handmaid’s Tale. Some American readers didn’t like this. “It could never happen here!” they cried. Many others said they thought it was already happening and it was their worst nightmare. One Christian soul gave me a 1-star “punitive” review on Amazon because he or she thought it meant I hate Christians! (I shudder to imagine the hate mail Margaret Atwood must have received.)
It all left me with the feeling I should do something about it.
A few weeks ago, I was just finishing another novel (tentatively titled “Heaven is a Place on Earth”) and thinking about my next project. “Heaven” had been a hard book to write – full of heavy themes and deeply character-driven – so I wanted a new project that would be a lot more fun. Naturally, TimeSplash came to mind because it was one of the most fun novels I’ve ever written. I thought again, more seriously, about how I could make it work. And I had a Eureka moment. I would move the whole thing over to the States. I needed good reasons to get Jay and Sandra over there (and found them). I needed new villains and heroes (always fun to invent) and a dastardly plot that centres around timesplashing.
And there we have it. The time is fifteen years on from the action in TimeSplash. Sandra has built a new life for herself while Jay’s is crumbling away. The book opens in Boston with the line, “Leaving Boston in the Spring of 2066 without the proper papers was no easy matter, but Zadrach Polanski had many friends who would give their lives to help him.”
About ten thousand words are already written. I don’t even have a working title yet. Watch this space. I’ll keep you posted.