Science fiction author Graham Storrs is here today to talk about his new release, TimeSplash.
Tell us about your book. What sparked the idea for the story?
TimeSplash is a near-future sci-fi thriller. It’s about a young couple with a lot of problems who get together to try to stop a time-jumping terrorist from creating a destructive temporal anomaly that could kill millions of people. It’s a quirky kind of romance as well as a fast-paced thriller and a sci-fi story about the near future.
I was thinking a lot about time travel when the idea came to me. I had just written another time travel novel and my head was still full of it. TimeSplash came on me in a sudden flash of inspiration. I saw a river in my mind’s eye, a broad, majestic river, calm, powerful and smooth, representing the time stream, and imagined people being lobbed back into it from the future. They would make a splash but then the river would flow on and smooth it all out as if it had never happened. But some of the turbulence created would flow downstream for a while and, if it was a big enough splash, it might hit the present. But what would make a bigger splash? A bigger time paradox, of course. So you shoot your own grandmother, or Hitler, or Lenin, and unleash a whirlwind. And then I thought, well, what if kids started doing this for kicks – like some kind of extreme sport? And, from that moment, I was hooked.
What draws you to writing science fiction?
Most fiction is about asking “What if…?” questions and playing out the consequences. Science fiction just takes it farther than most other genres. Le Carré might ask, “What if there was a mole at the top of MI6?” while Arthur C. Clarke might ask, “What if an alien artifact was found on the Moon?” I just happen to like to take my what ifs as far as I can. What if we are not alone in the universe? What if you could jump back in time? What if the future of humanity is to upload our minds into massive computers?
Tell us about your favorite character in this book. Can you tell us anything about them that isn’t in the book?
Half the fun of writing a book is inventing the people in it. Some of them I have to work at – like Jay, the hero in TimeSplash, who could easily have turned out a bit wet, he’s so nice – others just pop up out of nowhere and surprise you – like Klaatu, the bad guy’s unpleasant but brilliant sidekick, I didn’t need to work on him at all, he was such a strong personality. But I suppose my favourite is my female lead, Sandra. She’s young, traumatized by a terrible life, terrified of the bad guy, powerless and destitute. Yet she takes on the responsibility of tracking down and killing this monstrous man who is terrorizing the world, just because no-one else can do it. She’s tough, smart, resourceful, funny, and obsessively determined – and she has to be, not only to beat the incredible odds she’s up against, but to beat her own fears and twisted desires. One thing about her that isn’t in the book is that she thinks our hero, Jay, is very good-looking, in a boyish kind of way, but she would never tell him that.
Tell us about yourself. Do you have a day job? Do you have any hobbies and interests outside of writing, and if so, do they ever find their way into your writing?
Forgive me if I sound a bit smug when I say, no, I don’t have a day job. I started life as a researcher, studying artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. I did it in universities at first, then for a big software company. Later on, I did user interface analysis and design, interactive multimedia, e-commerce, and so on. I became a manager, ran some large groups and, eventually ran my own consultancy. It was a fascinating career and took me all over the world. I started in the UK and ended up in Australia. Then a small amount of money came my way. I’d paid off my mortgage by then and calculated that by downscaling (a lot) I could take a very early retirement. So I bought a house in the bush a couple of years ago and all I do now is write and spend time with my family. Of course, I didn’t bank on a global financial meltdown – which has made life harder than I expected – but what the heck, I am living the dream.
When I was working, I used to write in my lunch breaks, weekends and holidays, on a PDA. I wrote several novels in the cafés and parks of downtown Brisbane. TimeSplash happens to be the first novel I wrote after ‘retiring’. I don’t suppose that’s significant, although it may be. Taking six months to write a first draft rather than three years may well make a book more coherent, or give it more energy.
As for hobbies and interests, apart from writing my big interest is science. I read popular science books and even undergraduate text books on a very broad range of subjects – like relativity, human pre-history, computing, quantum mechanics, maths, astronomy, genetics, and so on. I’m an avid New Scientist reader too. It’s easy to see how that feeds into my writing, I suppose.
How can readers keep up with you online?
TimeSplash has its own website http://www.timesplash.co.uk/ and even its own blog (which you can reach from the website).
I have a blog where I discuss writing and related topics, http://grahamstorrs.cantalibre.com/
And, if you just want to chat, follow me on Twitter (@graywave) I’m always happy to meet people there.
Thank you for the great interview, Graham!