Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.
Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. A trilogy, the Transformation Series, featuring Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search and Psyche’s Promise is complete. The initial two books have been published, with the final volume scheduled for release in 2012. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist and the Transformation Series is no exception.
In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. Part of her website is devoted to photos of her beloved Sierra. And she lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone else is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.
Book One of the Transformation Series
By Ann Gimpel
What if your psychotherapist could really see into your soul? Picture all those secrets lying hidden, perhaps squirming a bit, just out of view. Would you invite your analyst to take a peek behind that gossamer curtain? Read your aura? Scry your future…?
Classically trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Doctor Lara McInnis has a special gift that helps her with her patients. Born with “the sight” she can read auras, while flirting with a somewhat elusive ability to foretell the future. Lara becomes alarmed when several of her patients—and a student or two—tell her about the same cataclysmic dream.
Reaching out to the Institute for answers, Lara’s paranormal ability sounds a sharp warning and she runs up hard against a dead end. Her search for assistance leads her to a Sidhe and ancient Celtic rituals blaze their way into her life. Complicating the picture is a deranged patient who’s been hell bent on destroying Lara ever since she tried to help his abused wife, a boyfriend with a long-buried secret and a society that’s crumbling to dust as shortages of everything from electricity to food escalate.
Book Two of the Transformation Series
By Ann Gimpel
Born with the sight, Laura McInnis is ambivalent about her paranormal ability. Oh it’s useful enough some of the time with her psychotherapy patients. But mostly it’s an embarrassment and an inconvenience—especially when her visions drag her to other worlds. Or into Goblin dens. In spite of escalating violence, incipient food shortages and frequent power blackouts, Lara is still far too attached to the comfortable life she shares with her boyfriend, Trevor, a flight attendant who lost his job when aviation fuel got so expensive—and so scarce—his airline went out of business. Forced to seek assistance to hone her unusual abilities in Psyche’s Prophecy, Book I of this series, Lara is still quite the neophyte in terms of either summoning or bending her magic to do much of anything.
Reluctantly roped into channeling her unpredictable psychic talents to help a detective who saved her from a psychopathic killer, Lara soon finds herself stranded in the murky underbelly of a world inhabited by demons. The Sidhe offer hope, but they are so high-handed Lara stubbornly resists their suggestions. Riots, death on all sides, a mysterious accident and one particular demon targeting her, push Lara to make some hard decisions. When all seems lost, the Dreaming, nestled in the heart of Celtic magic, calls out to her.
Time Travel and Writing
Stories about turning back time, finding a fountain of youth and living forever have always been popular. Star Trek added the overlay that time travel was permissible so long as you didn’t do anything in a past time zone that would alter the future. If you really think about that, it would be impossible, unless you were invisible, didn’t talk to anyone and didn’t pick up so much as a rock and move it.
There is something seductive about being able to go back to another time, or take a peek into a yet-to-be experienced future. On a much smaller microcosm, one of the things I used to really enjoy about real books was paging back and forth in them. That’s a whole lot harder with e-readers unless the book’s been well-annotated.
A common saying is we all have twenty-twenty hindsight. Another is that the view through the retro spectroscope is crystal clear. Obviously what that means is if we applied the knowledge we have at hand now, we might have made different choices in the past. Those choices would impact where we are at the moment. There’s a famous quote by George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember past are doomed to repeat it.”
So, how does all of this apply to writing? One of the old rules, that I always thought was cast in stone, but that I see authors break all the time these days, revolves around point of view. You have a point of view character for virtually all stories. This is the character whose eyes the story is viewed through. You can only change POV characters at section breaks or in new chapters. Many novels are told from a single POV. Some have two or three POV characters. Since the reader can’t know more than the POV character knows, it can be challenging to write a lengthy novel from a single point of view. For one thing, that character has to be in every single scene because if they didn’t see something happen, you can’t write about it.
The loose link with time travel is someone actually has to be there, going back in time, to understand how having a conversation with, for example, a woman standing on a street corner might change the course of history. You need a consistent character who can interpret the impact of time travel as it moves along a timeline to the present day. An easier way to do that might be to have POV characters in each of the differing time zones and some way they can communicate with the protagonist who’s drawing it all together.
In 1843, Dickens wrote about the ghosts accompanying Scrooge into his past and future in A Christmas Carol. H.G. Well’s Time Machine came along in 1895. And let’s not forget Mark Twain’s, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. That one was published in 1895. If you go to Wikipedia, there are scores of books and movies about time travel which tells me there’s an archetypal desire on the part of humans to explore new realms. On a more modern front, there are all of Diana Gabaldon’s books featuring a time-travelling protag who goes back to eighteenth century Scotland.
One of the hallmarks of successful genre writing is good research. For a book to have that verisimilitude twang, the author simply has to put in the time to understand what they’re writing about. I think it’s actually easier to write about a future that hasn’t happened yet, than about a past that has. Reason is there are lots of armchair critics out there who probably know way more than I do about the French Revolution or the American-Indian War or the geography of Tanzania. So, if I’m going to turn out a genre novel featuring time travel, I’d need to pick places in time I can write cogently about. I also need a protagonist with a personality that could mesh well with, say, Ancient Minoans, or Stone Age folk, or wherever my novel takes place.
Have you ever considered time travel in your imagination? Where would you want to go and why? What would you do when you got there? Or, on a level much closer to home, have you ever wished you could go back and do something over again? How did that impact your life? Did it change in how you relate to others? Make you more compassionate? More distant? More (or less) trusting?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.