Please welcome today Dennis Higgins, author of the time travel and paranormal novels, Parallel Road and Time Pilgrims.
When did you start writing? What was it you first wrote?
I always wrote stories as a child and even did some light journaling. The stories that were to become my first two novels, Parallel Road (Lost on Route 66) and Katya and Cyrus (Time Pilgrims) started out from playing online with the woman who was to become my wife. We would write paragraphs in a never-ending story type format. They weren’t very good and because we were newly in love, would be sometimes become saturated with an almost Harlequin Romance type of rhetoric. This is not my style of writing, although the best time travel stories always have a touch of romance.
What period do you write about and why?
That’s the fun part with my stories, especially Katya and Cyrus. They are time travelers and can visit any time period. I have purposely put a hundred year limit on their ability, which they only have started to learn to break near the end of the novel. That they are called time pilgrims is due to the fact that they are still learning to test the waters of time travel.
I personally love the period between the 1860s and the 1960s. So many great adventures can take place in that hundred year era. It can start with the American Civil War, the great Chicago Fire, the San Francisco earthquake, the sinking of the Titanic, all other catastrophic wars, assassinations and other such calamities such as the Hindenburg and the Edsel (for goodness sakes).
What is your theory or belief on how historically accurate you need to be? How does that affect your story? For alternative history writers: how did you decide to change history? How do you reconcile it with “real” history?
I believe accuracies in historical writing are imperative, even when history changes around my time traveling characters. I try very hard to connect with what would have occurred because of a particular change. One incident that has been written about by many an author is the JFK assassination. How would the world have changed if this was prevented in some way? I’m proud of my own take in Katya and Cyrus. Even though my chapter on this is not long, I had studied it long and hard and even wrote in minute details as to where the presidential motorcade was heading for lunch on that particular day in Dallas.
It’s the same with Parallel Roads. The history of Route 66 and the accuracies in both the present day and my choice period of 1946 are of extreme importance to me. Search engines like Bing.com and that huge googolplex one can help but I needed to actually travel the historic decommissioned road to really get the feel of the ethos and landscape.
Tell me about your main character, real or fictional and why?
For this answer I will stick with Parallel Roads. I don’t have just one main character, but for the purpose of this interview I will narrow it down to two. My main character from 1946 is Katherine Callahan. She is a devout Irish Catholic, strong willed woman who follows her own mind at every step of the way. I guess you could say that she is strong and a bit stubborn. She believes she had lost the first love of her life in the Great War but gets torn in two when he makes his return, only after she has moved on with her life and marries American born, John. Soon after their baby is born, she jumps in their old 36 Buick and heads west down Route 66 to visit her sister and clear her head, only she never returns.
This brings me to my second main character, Kevin Callahan, grandson of Katherine and John. He and his best friend, Cheryl had become obsessed with what may have happened to his Grandma Kate all those years ago. Kevin is a modern guy who relies heavily on Cheryl and her detective skills but sometimes finds himself clueless about what makes a woman tick. (Aren’t we all?) But he also has an almost paranormal connection to his grandmother so he and Cheryl embark upon the now decommissioned Route 66 to try and retrace her steps.
What is the most surprising thing in the period you write about? Do you run into common misperceptions? How do you deal with them in your fiction?
I guess the thing that has surprised me is the fact that deep down inside, people are people; they are all the same no matter what time period they are from. There are outward differences and these are what I love to contrast to the modern world with. Also surprising is that as I get into a time period through my writing, I feel as if I had really lived it and been there. I read once that Jane Austin could write in such detail about things she could not have possibly known with complete accuracies. I believe when we write, we draw from some place within ourselves and I don’t know where that place is exactly. I myself had experienced this while writing Parallel Roads. One example is when Katherine needs to stop for gas, she calls it a filling station. I only later discovered that this is what folks called them back in the 1940s. I also wrote in a character from Oklahoma. I had never heard anyone from this state speak before. When I actually travelled the Mother Road though the Sooner state, I discovered that I had imagined the accent perfectly.
Who would you most like to meet from one of your novels? Tell us about them.
I would like to meet Katherine because she is beautiful and a little always have around women like her. But I would also love to sit and talk with Katya from Time Pilgrims because she is mysterious. Blonde, petite, plain, Katya has no idea from what time period she is from because she suffers from a condition known as temporal amnesia. She is the most powerful time pilgrim that has ever been employed by the Callahan family for their time research centers. They build their centers on the sites of old watch factories(Waltham, Ma…Elgin, Il). Unlike Cyrus Callahan who grew up as the all-business boss’s son, Katya sometimes time travels just for the sheer fun of it and teaches Cyrus to do the same. She’s fun and full of life and time travels much the same way I do…ah, I mean, would.
What is your next project?
I started writing a book about true mythical creatures in Malaysian folk lore called the Orang Bunian but have shelved it for the time being. With the publication of the series, Katya and Cyrus (Time Pilgrims) happening sometime in the coming year, I had better get started on book two.
Where can readers find your books?
Find out more about Dennis at his website: www.timepilgrims.com