Guest post: The Allure of Time Travel By Debbie De Louise

Witnessing world events that have yet to happen in her lifetime, including 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, Y2K hysteria and the COVID pandemic, can Samantha figure out the time traveler’s plans? — Time’s Relative by @Deblibrarian

It is great to have Debbie Delouise back on the blog sharing excerpts from her new book and another great guest post.

The Allure of Time Travel
By Debbie De Louise

I’ve been a fan of time-travel tales since I was young. Perhaps my fascination with these stories started with A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle that I read as a child, or maybe it happened later after I read the Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger or Time and Again by Jack Finney, two of my favorite books. Whatever caused my interest, it spurred me to write Time’s Relative, my first novel back in 1998. Although, I tried to publish it, I gave up after receiving one rejection and put the manuscript away.

It wasn’t until 2007, after my cat, Floppy died, that I started writing again and published my first book, Cloudy Rainbow, a paranormal romance. This book, like my time-travel tale, included Floppy as a character. However, instead of traveling through time, the characters communicated with the dead via a computer’s virtual world. Since the book, published by a self-publishing company, didn’t sell widely because I was inexperienced with marketing and promotion, I once again stopped writing. But at the prompting of a patron at the library where I worked who’d read my book, I started another that I found a publisher for in 2015. That book, A Stone’s Throw, became the first in my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series featuring a librarian and a library cat who solve murders in the small, fictional town of Cobble Cove. The series now consists of five full-length books available as paperbacks and eBooks as well as a story series of four eBooks. I’ve also written 3 standalone mysteries and short stories of various genres in anthologies and continue to publish 1 to 3 books per year. 

Last year, when I was working from home during the pandemic, I went through some old writing files and found the manuscript for Time’s Relative. I also found the computer file. Looking through it, I decided to edit and update it. As I began the process, I realized that what I’d written about 1998 was authentic to that period and should be kept along with events that transpired since then including COVID 19. When I’d made the changes, I submitted the manuscript to one of my current publishers, and Next Chapter sent me a contract for it. I was excited to know that my time-travel tale would finally appear in print. 

Even though time-travel isn’t yet possible and may never be, books allow us to travel to other places and times. The allure of time travel is that many people want to know what will happen in the future or want to change something from their past. 

Time’s Relative
by Debbie DeLouise
Genre: Time Travel Thriller

It’s the fall of 1998, and librarian Samantha Stewart is looking for a new job. After seeing an ad for a high-paying position at a company called Virtual Software that entails research and travel, Sam investigates the company and learns that its president has gone missing, and that it’s currently being run by the vice-president Greg Parsons. Before Sam makes it to the interview, she’s visited by a strange woman who introduces herself as Jane Oldsfield: a time traveler whose mission Greg Parsons is trying to prevent.

Sam ignores the woman and goes on the job interview anyway. Soon, she finds herself involved not only with Greg Parsons, but also Philip Montmart, a chain-smoking detective with a vendetta for his wife’s killer, and the time-traveling Oldsfield and her feline accomplice.

Witnessing world events that have yet to happen in her lifetime, including 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, Y2K hysteria and the COVID pandemic, can Samantha figure out Oldsfield’s plans?
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They drove the short distance in silence with the window still down and cool air billowing inside. The detective didn’t say anything until they stopped in front of the glass Virtual Software building. As Sam was sitting there, not sure if she should get out, Montmart turned to her and said in his serious deep voice, “Be careful, Sam.” 

On unsteady legs, Sam got out and walked into the building’s front entrance. She didn’t look back at the detective but could feel his cool blue eyes watching her. For encouragement, Sam felt the bug in the pocket of her dress, which would act as an invisible umbilical cord between her and the detective. She only prayed he wouldn’t have to come in after her, gun drawn. But now that she thought of it, Montmart didn’t seem to carry a gun. The only items in his jean’s pockets were the lighter with the mysterious initials and his cigarettes. 

“Jane and I were involved in a very special project, Miss Stewart. We were trying to create a software program that would allow individuals to travel to places both local and foreign without the aid of commonplace transportation systems such as airplanes, trains, or cars. If we succeeded, the benefits to mankind would have been astronomical. Can you imagine the time and cost savings of such travel? It would’ve been the answer to traffic jams and jet lag. We were on the brink of bringing this new technology to fruition when Jane discovered the program had some major bugs. I won’t bore you with the technical details. Let’s just say my partner found that our travel program had the capacity to not only transport individuals to other places but also to other times.” Parsons stared at her as if transfixed by his story, regardless of the fact that it sounded rehearsed. She wondered if he’d told this story to anyone else or had memorized it especially for her. She pictured Detective Montmart in his Toyota laughing so hard his scar was cracking.

“That’s quite a story. Is that where Jane Oldsfield disappeared to – another time period?”

Parsons must’ve known she didn’t believe a word he said. She gave him credit for continuing the tale. “Jane travels back and forth between many time periods. She’s trying to stabilize the program so that the proper coordinates are aligned. You see, presently the time travel feature of the program is defective. When it’s activated, one never knows exactly to what year he or she will be transported.”

Parsons steepled his fingers together as she’d seen him do on the previous visit when he was considering what to say. “The description of the job in the ad I placed was correct. I need someone who has a background in history and enough knowledge of software to help me stop Miss Oldsfield from what she’s attempting. That will involve extensive travel, but not the kind I think you expected.”

“You want me to go back in time?” As ridiculous as the proposition sounded, Sam couldn’t help but betray the fear in her voice.

“Or forward. The time travel component is capable of transporting someone up to twelve months into the future and anytime into the past.” Parsons paused as if to give himself as well as Sam a chance to digest that information. Then he opened the center drawer of his desk and extracted an identical time travel disk to the one Jane Oldsfield had in Sam’s apartment. 

Sam gasped as she recognized the object. She fought to retain her control. “I still don’t believe this, but if what you’re saying is true, what am I supposed to do in these time periods?”

Parsons placed the disk in the center of his desk partway between him and Sam. “That will all be covered in the training. I won’t expect you to take your first trip for at least a month. Basically, your job will be to find and deactivate or destroy Foundation Markers.”

Now Sam felt as if she’d moved from a spy adventure to a science fiction epic. “What are Foundation Markers?” she asked.

“They’re another term for the time-travel disks that reflect their function to lock in coordinates into real-time mode. In non-technical jargon that means that, placed in the correct location on the correct date, a dozen Foundation Markers or Time-Travel disks, will enable the stabilization necessary for anyone to travel to any time period in history anywhere in the world. The consequences of creating such a tool would make the atom bomb’s inventor uneasy not to mention the ethical ramifications of being able to change time at one’s will.”

“What did Jane mean when she said the cat was working for her?”

“It’s a long story; but when Jane argued with me about the proper use of the Time-Travel Disks, she implanted a microchip in Floppy that would allow him to travel back and forth through time and act as her ‘Grounder.’”

“Is that what she meant by saying that she switched with him and why I saw the cat right before she appeared in my apartment?”

“Yes. Floppy is her grounder to the present time. She has the eleven Foundation Markers; the twelfth is in the circuits implanted in the cat.”

“Excuse me if I seem a little naïve about your technical terms, but what is a ‘grounder’ and how does it work?” Sam hoped she was asking the right questions and not exacerbating the listening detective who was probably getting impatient with all the small talk. 

“I know you’re eager to learn everything, and I don’t blame you. But I’d rather not confuse you further. The next time we meet, I’ll show you the prototypes and Jane’s journal. For some reason, she didn’t take it with her. That’s what enabled me to duplicate the disks.”

“Now, wait a minute, Mr. Parsons.” It was Sam’s turn to be impatient. “You can’t give me half an explanation and see me off. If I’m going to be involved in this, I want the whole scoop. Besides, I don’t appreciate midnight or any other time of day visits from your partner.”

“She’s not my partner,” Parsons corrected her. “She used to be but not after she convoluted our
project and used my cat as a guinea pig.”

Debbie De Louise is an award-winning author and a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island. She is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters-in-Crime, and the Cat Writer’s Association. She has a BA in English and an MLS in Library Science from Long Island University. Her seven published novels include the 4 books of her Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A Stone’s Throw, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Written in Stone, and Love on the Rocks, her paranormal romance, Cloudy Rainbow, her mystery thriller Reason to Die, and her latest psychological mystery, Sea Scope. She also published a romantic comedy novella featuring a jewel heist caper, When Jack Trumps Ac. Debbie has also written articles and short stories for several anthologies of various genres. She is currently querying agents to represent the first book of a new cozy mystery series. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and three cats.
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