Interview with Andy Gavin, author of Untimed


Publisher: Mascherato Publishing

Publish Date: December 19, 2012

Order From:  Amazon / Kindle

Synopsis: Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, even his own mother can’t remember his name. And girls? The invisible man gets more dates.

As if that weren’t enough, when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously.

Still, this isn’t all bad. In fact, there’s this girl, another time traveler, who not only remembers his name, but might even like him! Unfortunately, Yvaine carries more than her share of baggage: like a baby boy and at least two ex-boyfriends! One’s famous, the other’s murderous, and Charlie doesn’t know who is the bigger problem.

When one kills the other — and the other is nineteen year-old Ben Franklin — things get really crazy. Can their relationship survive? Can the future? Charlie and Yvaine are time travelers, they can fix this — theoretically — but the rules are complicated and the stakes are history as we know it. And there's one more wrinkle: he can only travel into the past, and she can only travel into the future!


Author Bio: Andy Gavin is a serial creative, polymath, novelist, entrepreneur, computer programmer, author, foodie, and video game creator. He co-founded video game developer Naughty Dog and co-created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. He started numerous companies, has been lead programmer on video games that have sold more than forty million copies, and has written two novels.

His first book, The Darkening Dream, has been well-received by fans and critics alike. Publisher’s Weekly called it “gorgeously creepy, strangely humorous, and sincerely terrifying.” Untimed is an even more ambitious follow-up. It is a lavish production with a cover by acclaimed fantasy artist Cliff Nielsen and twenty-one full page interior illustrations by Dave Phillips.


Author Interview: Please tell us about your current release.

Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can’t remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously. Still, this isn’t all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there’s this girl… Yvaine… another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine’s got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history — like accidentally let the founding father be killed — they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.

How did you come up with the idea for your book? and Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

Typically, Untimed began from a fusion of ideas. Lingering in my mind for over twenty years was a time travel story about people from the future who fell “downtime” to relive exciting moments in history (until things go wrong). I worked out a time travel system but had no plot or characters. Separately, in 2010, as a break from editing The Darkening Dream, I experimented with new voice techniques, especially first person present. I also read various “competition.” One of these was The Lightning Thief (the first Percy Jackson novel), which has an amazing series concept (if a slightly limp execution).  I love mythology and history, and liked the notion of something with a rich body of material to mine. I wanted an open ended high concept that drew on my strengths, which brought me back to time travel.

Some of the mechanics from my earlier concept merged well with a younger protagonist, voiced in a visceral first person present style. I started thinking about it, and his voice popped into my head. I pounded out a chapter not too dissimilar from the first chapter of the final novel. Then the most awesome villain teleported into the situation. I can’t remember how or why, but it happened quickly and spontaneously. Tick-Tocks were born (or forged).

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about the book?

I really happy with Untimed right now. It might have been easier to sell to publishers if I had kept the basic plot but targeted it at Middle Schoolers. Instead, it’s a 13+ book and I tried to make Charlie’s voice authentically 15, which means it has a bit of an edge. Teen boys think about shit and sex. Sorry, but it’s true. I rub up on issues that make some squirm, even if I deal with the lightly: teen pregnancy, drinking, slavery, etc. But to sweep these under the carpet wouldn’t do justice to the 18th century – or our own.

Now as to the sequel, which I’m in the middle of drafting, there I have problems – but anyone who loves their first draft is a fool.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

With Untimed, the hardest parts had to do with the time travel. First of all, I had to come up with a unique new system that allowed multiple visits to the same time period, but wasn’t too overpowered. If your characters are too powerful, there is no jeopardy. So I had to invent all the restrictions and deal with the issues of paradox (and I think I have a crafty new solution there). Then I had to figure out how to make returning to the SAME action actually interesting for the reader. That was even harder.

Do you have a musical playlist you listen to when writing? If so, what kind of music?

I always listen to some music when writing. Lyrics interfere with serious writing or editing so trance techno is one of my favorite genres for that. Or something spacy like Miles Davis or Tangerine Dream if I don’t want to pound.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I hate to outline, yet I must have a scene or chapter fleshed out before I can write it. If I do, it pops out at 750-1000 words an hour. If not, it doesn’t come at all. But I can only really outline a few chapters ahead.

Do you plan any subsequent books?

Yep. Right now, I’m writing two more novels and adapting Untimed into a screenplay. The new books are the Untimed sequel and a totally separate short novel that involves old school fairies and iambic pentameter.

Please tell us your latest news.

Untimed is launching today as I write this!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Untimed is aimed at anyone who likes a rip roaring adventure in the tradition of the great 80s adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Arc. I wanted a lightning paced romp that showed unfamiliar takes on familiar places, times, and people. Charlie is 15, but slightly younger readers will probably appreciate the action, and adult readers enjoy the well thought out time travel system and carefully worked historical implications. Charlie’s voice is frank and compelling, but light hearted with an edge, and I dance across serious themes without getting too heavy. It’s PG-13, no racier than today’s network teen shows.

One of my major agenda’s was to show the past in a fun but accurate manner. History doesn’t have to be boring, and while situations and society changes, people stay the same. People in the past are just as human, but things really have improved in many ways. Charlie, as a contemporary kid, serves as our representative, experiencing different times first hand –up close and personal with chamber pots.



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