Book Nerd Interview
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I’m very lucky to have a mother who is a writer and who teaches creative writing. I grew up taking her workshops and just enjoying putting words together. It seemed like something I already was, not something I might become.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
In my opinion storytelling is everything. We listen to our mothers talking when we are in the womb, we can understand words long before we can speak – storytelling is how we make sense of everything. Science is storytelling, religion is storytelling, teaching, loving, working – I don’t care what you do, at some level you are making a story with every step you take. I’m a teacher, and I tell my students, “If you can gossip with a friend, you can write.” What I mean is, that there are times when we are all perfectly comfortable telling stories. Really letting rip about how someone made you mad, or happy, or working out with a friend whether or not you are in love with someone. If you give yourself permission, it’s a small step from there to writing.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I have a million favorite books. If I’m lucky, it’s the one I’m reading this minute (I'm reading Bleak House for the first time and it is scorching my fingers, it's so incredible). But I’ll tell you, I love regency romance, and aside from a few of Georgette Heyer’s my absolute favorite is called A Gyspy at Almack’s, by Chloe Cheshire. I don’t know where I found it or when, but it’s amazing. Funny, sharp, strange . . . not your usual love story at all. It’s the only one she ever wrote. Chloe Cheshire is the pen name of Laura Schlitz – she went on to write children’s books. She’s even won the Newberry Medal!
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Damn the torpedos! He meant don’t read reviews. I can’t follow that advice, I’m afraid, but I’m sure he’s right.
Can you tell my Book Nerd community a little bit about The River of No Return?
The River of No Return is a time travel novel – a mash up of a bunch of different genres. It’s got a love story at the core, but there’s mystery, secret societies, apocalypse, spies . . . and most of all fantasy. After all, my characters are zooming around in time. In a nutshell, Nick Falcott jumps forward in time from a Napoleonic battlefield. He finds himself in the 21st century, under the care of a global brotherhood of time travelers called The Guild. They provide for his every need, in exchange for his silence and his devotion to their group. But things quickly spin out of control, and Nick has to decide if he’s going to be a good boy or not. Needless to say, he decides not, and he ends up on an adventure that carries him back to 1815 and into the arms of the woman he left behind.
For those who are unfamiliar with Nick, how would you introduce him?
I love Nick. He was the character who came to me first. Nick is a simple man with a complicated life. Born an aristocrat, he should have grown up rich, married, had children and died without ever having to ask questions about what life is for. But his jump forward in time has forced him to rethink everything. When he returns to 1815 from the 21st century, he is a new man, and he has to figure out how to fit back in without compromising his new self. He’s funny and self-deprecating, but he has an angry side, and as a soldier and a marquess he’s not afraid to take action when action is necessary.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m working on the next book in the series! Watch this space!
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Julia?
Julia was tricky. She resisted being captured in prose for a long time. I think she taught me, a first time writer, to be honest. It was tempting sometimes to make her say or do things that would make the action easier . . . but she never let me. She always forced me to be true to her.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Nick is a like a kinder, gentler version of Billy Pilgrim from Slaughterhouse Five. But I’m not sure they should ever meet!
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I never lie (wink).
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Write as if you are writing to the person you know best, the person you can make laugh (or even cry).
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
Interning as a fact checker at Esquire Magazine in New York when I was 19. I was such a fish out of water!
Who was your first boyfriend?
My first boyfriend was Christopher Plummer. But he never knew it.
Tell me about your first kiss
I was seventeen and thought I was so old to have never kissed anyone. It was a very beautiful, moonlit summer night . . . anyway. That’s my happy memory, thank you very much.
What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
Definitely that I don’t love them back. I’ve had to do that a couple of times and it’s horrible. I hope it doesn’t happen ever again.
When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday. But before that it had been months.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I would choose the 1980s – the same decade when I was a teenager!
What is your greatest adventure?
Writing this novel. It has been an incredible adventure, a life changing couple of years.
Where can readers stalk you?
Oh lovely! I adore being stalked.
“You are now a member of the Guild . There is no return.” Two hundred years after he was about to die on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott, soldier and aristocrat, wakes up in a hospital bed in modern London. The Guild, an entity that controls time travel, showers him with life's advantages. But Nick yearns for home and for one brown-eyed girl, lost now down the centuries. Then the Guild asks him to break its own rule. It needs Nick to go back to 1815 to fight the Guild’s enemies and to find something called the Talisman.
In 1815, Julia Percy mourns the death of her beloved grandfather, an earl who could play with time. On his deathbed he whispers in her ear: “Pretend!” Pretend what? When Nick returns home as if from the dead, older than he should be and battle scarred, Julia begins to suspect that her very life depends upon the secrets Grandfather never told her. Soon enough Julia and Nick are caught up in an adventure that stretches up and down the river of time. As their knowledge of the Guild and their feelings for each other grow, the fate of the future itself is hanging in the balance.
The premise of this book is absolutely gripping and once readers immerse themselves into its multi-layered plot, intrigue and interest will take over. Although there were many things happening ranging from Nick and Julia’s story to the secrets of the Guild and their mysterious enemies, I found that story still managed to deliver a powerful punch without feeling overwhelmed with all that is happening. The addition of real historical events provided a layer of realness and mixes it incredibly with fiction. Author Bee packs a lot of details and steers the story to a very fast-moving pace that it leaves no space for a dull moment.
Readers will appreciate that there was an established connection between Nick and Julia and not an instant-love at first sight as most book titles tend to do. Their relationship was believable and as the story progressed, I was rooting for them to end up happy. Bee’s writing style is amazing as I felt my interests increasing with each turn of the page. There is plenty of adventure and mystery to keep you up all night long.
The mission Nick is sent back to fulfill is truly an inventive and unique idea. The Guild considers the gift of time-traveling should be kept in secrecy but the Ofan believes that it should be taught and used. Time-traveling stories have always been a tough topic to tackle but I found Bee’s turn at this genre to be highly entertaining and I enjoyed the roller-coaster adventure it takes readers on. The ending comes to a satisfying close while still leaving room to set up the bridge towards a sequel. It can be a standalone book since there’s no real heavy cliffhanger but it is obvious that there is so much more to explore with this amazing story. The River of No Return is a unique story that puts an interesting twist in the adventures of time-traveling. Bee has placed herself in the radar of anyone that is seeking something entertainingly unique.