Shipbuilder Blog Tour Archive

Crossing Genres-Marlene Dotterer and Her New Release: Shipbuilder
September 5th, 18:55
Current Location:
NYC
Current Mood:
pleased pleased
Current Music:
Theme From Titanic (Celine Dion)
I  am delighted welcome Marlene Dotterer,  a long time member of Online Writer’s Workshop. We met a few years back during an online workshop and I had the opportunity to read some of her novel,  Shipbuilder, which has now been published.

Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.
Now imagine being there before she’s even built.
Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?
To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. 

Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future?
Or should they let him die?

Welcome, Marlene. Crossing genres is a subject near and dear to me. Many times I am asked, what is this? And often I answer with a combination of three, sometimes four subgenres. This can make it hard to sell in traditional markets who want to know where the book goes on the shelf. My answer is put it on three or four shelves! Especially now that most of them are virtual ones. Give us your insights.
Thank you having me, Carole. I’m excited to chat with your readers about my book. Let me start with a question:
Is it Science Fiction if the story takes place in the past?
My answer:
Probably not. Not exactly, anyway.
There. Wasn’t that easy?
Science fiction, as I understand it, involves technology. Usually, the story takes place in the future, with space ships, planets, and weapons easily capable of exterminating humanity. However, there are also present-day plots. These are usually Michael Crichton-type  doomsday scenarios with superbugs breaking loose and exterminating humanity. Or they can be aliens-visiting-earth, who either
a)befriend some kids and eventually go away, or
b)exterminate humanity.
Other stories take place in some variant of current or near-future earth, with just enough difference to show it’s not our own present day. Computer related stories are a popular type of this sub-genre, with people lost in the circuits, or some role-playing game starts to take over the world. And exterminates humanity.
What about steampunk? Ah, now that takes place in the past, and is most definitely a type of science fiction. SF as H.G. Wells would write it, but with more martial arts. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials is an example of this, and I believe there was some danger of humanity being exterminated. At least, the kid part of it.
I wonder about this question because my book takes place in 1906 – 1912, and it’s not steampunk. Yes, there’s a scientist in it, and there’s time travel. But the time travel is quickly done and never really explained, although it is clearly science-based. There’s nothing supernatural going on.
Is this science fiction?
I feel safe calling it alternate history, but is alternate history a branch of SF? I’ve always thought of it so, but I could be wrong.
TTJ: Shipbuilder is also historical fiction, assuming you don’t mind time travelers talking about space shuttles in your historical fiction.
It’s also romance. So here is where I tie it all together by calling it…  get ready… Time Travel Romance.
To me, this says science fiction because of the time travel. It also says romance (obviously), and it probably means historical fiction, since (most) time travel stories involve going to the past. I consider this a neat package in which to tie up my book. Perhaps with a bow.
Feel free to search for it under any of these genres. I’ve tried to include them all in the keywords because the book could easily be on any of these shelves in a bookstore. But if I had to pick just one shelf, which would it be?
Science fiction.
Thanks, Marlene. As I said, I’ve read some of this book and it’s on my TBR pile in my TBR file. Take a look, folks. You won’t be disappointed.Anything else, Marlene? 

YES! Must Have Give-Aways!
Ships are launched with a bottle of champagne. My book is about a ship, so…
Actually, perhaps it’s best if I don’t try to mail anyone a bottle of champagne. But how about a free book?
Throughout the blog tour, I’ll keep track of everyone who leaves a comment on any of the blogs and enter them into a drawing. At the end of the tour, I’ll pick three winners, each to receive an autographed copy of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder.
So, read on! Comment!
And those stops are:
Sept 2 – Patty Jansen
Sept 3 – Amy Raby
Sept 4 – Anna Kashina
Sept 5 – Darke Conteur
Sept 6 – Carole Ann Moleti
Sept 8 – Sue Ann BowlingVisit her website for a links to her other interesting articles. Here are buy links for all formats, including print for us dinosaur types.

Marlene Dotterer grew up as a desert rat in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, she loaded her five children into the family station wagon, and drove north-west to the foggy San Francisco Bay Area. To stay warm, she tackled many enterprises, earning a degree in geology, working for a national laboratory, and running her own business as a personal chef. She’s a frustrated gardener, loves to cook, and teaches natural childbirth classes. She says she writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times.

She is married to The Best Husband in the World, and lives in Pleasant Hill, California.

Time Travel and Gardens: Recipe for Danger, Guest Poster Marlene Dotterer

SEPTEMBER 5, 2011 BY  8 COMMENTS

In my bid to help out authors with promoting their books, I want to introduce to you a good writing friend of mine, Marlene Dotterer. She and I met on the Online Writers Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (OWW). She was one of the few who helped me with THE SAINTS OF BELVEDERE ROAD, and her input was most valued. Now, she’s promoting her book SHIPBUILDER, a novel about…well, why don’t I let her tell you about it!
~~~~~

A big “Thank You” to Darke, for hosting me! I’m glad to meet all of her readers and chat about my new book.

I’m a sucker for time travel stories. Always have been. I saw the movie Brigadoon when I was about four, and the magical, “out-of-time” aspect of it thrilled me to the core. This is what fascinates me about time travel. What would it be like to live in a different time? Future or past, it doesn’t much matter. It would all be so strange.

So it’s not really unexpected, that my first novel would be a time travel story. I wanted to write about Thomas Andrews, and I wanted to give him a chance to save the Titanic, so time travelers seemed like the perfect answer. But I didn’t want it to be the usual, “let’s go back in time and warn the captain about the iceberg” kind of thing. That’s been done.

And done again.

In fact, when I started the book, I knew it could be a series, and the series would be about the time travel, sort of like Quantum Leap, but without the “set things right” mentality. Time travelers may not always know how to fix things, and sometimes, their “fixes” make things worse. No, my idea is to explore the weirdness of living in another time. What’s different? What mistakes will a time traveler make? What happens if people find out about them? Will they be killed? Imprisoned? Used by powerful people for gain?

In TTJ: Shipbuilder, I spend a few chapters showing how hard it is for Casey and Sam to adjust to life in 1906. Even though they’ve read about the time period in history books, the day-to-day aspects of survival are huge obstacles. They have no money and no supplies. Their clothes are all wrong. They don’t know anyone, and there are horses and carriages running all over a town that is both completely strange and eerily familiar.

In that situation, survival is not a given.  But even later, after a couple of years of living in the past, they still get tripped up by unexpected rules or social mores. I think it’s fairly obvious that Casey would have a hard time adjusting to, and even remembering, all the restrictions on women, for example.

But how can planting gardens get her into trouble?

When the gardens in question stir the bubbling pot of animosity between Catholics and Protestants, that’s how.

Big trouble. And she never saw it coming.

~~~~~~~~~~

Book Blurb:
Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.
Now imagine being there before she’s even built. Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future?

Or should they let him die?
Amazon estore for the paperback version: https://www.createspace.com/3616600
Must Have Give-Aways!

Ships are launched with a bottle of champagne. My book is about a ship, so…

Actually, perhaps it’s best if I don’t try to mail anyone a bottle of champagne. But how about a free book? (Free Book? SWEET!! ~Darke~)
Throughout the blog tour, I’ll keep track of everyone who leaves a comment on any of the blogs and enter them into a drawing. At the end of the tour, I’ll pick three winners, each to receive an autographed copy of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder. So, read on! Comment!
 ~~~~~~~~~~
Marlene Dotterer grew up as a desert rat in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, she loaded her five children into the family station wagon, and drove north-west to the foggy San Francisco Bay Area. To stay warm, she tackled many enterprises, earning a degree in geology, working for a national laboratory, and running her own business as a personal chef. She’s a frustrated gardener, loves to cook, and teaches natural childbirth classes. She says she writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times.

She is married to The Best Husband in the World, and lives in Pleasant Hill, California.

Blog Tour: Marlene Dotterer, the author of Shipbuilder.

Today I am happy to host a guest post by Marlene Dotterer, whose first novel, “Shipbuilder”, has just been released this weekend.
Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.
Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?

To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future?

Or should they let him die?

___________________________________________

And now, on to Marlene’s post:

Let’s Talk About Characters
A big thank you to Anna, for hosting me during my tour! I’m excited to be here and chat her readers about my book and how characters make the story.

Characters are the lifeblood of any novel. You can have a kick-ass world, awesome magic, and terrifying fight scenes, but if your characters are boring, stereotypical, or one-dimensional, no one will care.

My own pet peeve in characters: unlikeable.

Not every character has to be likeable, of course, but I’m the kind of reader that will not finish a book if there isn’t at least one character I can really connect with. And I like nice people. So it’s safe to say that the current trend of hard, gritty jerks-as-heroes leaves me cold.

That doesn’t mean a character should be sweet-as-pie perfect. Repeat the boring, stereotypical, one-dimensional mantra from above. Characters are people. And people are complex. They make mistakes. They make poor choices. They may have good intentions, but mess up everyone around them. All of that may be true, but they can still be decent people.

It’s easy for me to write characters that are decent. The challenge is to keep them from being so decent that they don’t have any traits that cause problems for themselves or others. TTJ: Shipbuilder has three main characters. One is an historical figure – a man with his own personality and his own life. I had to take special care to portray him as the man he was, and obtain a certain level of historical accuracy. The other two characters are fictional, and it was up to me to imbue them with traits that give them a place in the story. Traits that gave them their own story, and make them feel like real people. You’ll have to let me know if I succeeded after you read the book. Here’s a brief analysis of each of them:

Sam Altair is a physicist, sixty years old. He has devoted his life to his research on time travel. In 2006, he is head of a research team at the Sun Consortium in Belfast. He is a well-liked and much respected scientist and mentor. He has never married, but he’s had a few close relationships over the years. He’s an amiable fellow, with a touch of compassion for anyone less fortunate than he.

Sam’s biggest fault is that he is too often tempted to skip steps or skim over procedures if he feels he’s close to a big leap in discovery. He is quick to justify his means by simply sweeping objections under the rug. He places too much faith in his own abilities and intelligence. We see this shortcoming in action at the beginning of the book, but keep an eye out for it as the story unfolds. Sam never quite gets over this problem.

Casey Wilson is a college student, twenty years old. Raised in a well-off, liberal American home, she has never had to suffer or struggle for anything. This doesn’t mean she is arrogant or lazy – far from it. Casey is practical, smart, and hard-working. She is even respectful toward older adults. But she has no doubt that she can do anything she wants to do, that the world is open to her in all its possibilities. This attitude blinds her to the realities of life in the Edwardian era, and the toll she must pay for it is large.

Thomas Andrews was a real person, with a real life and real dreams. His personality is well-documented, and even today, he commands respect. I have done my best to portray him as he was, within the limits of my own understanding. Obviously, there is much I can’t know, and in the end, my character of Tom Andrews may not be anything like the real man was. But I’ve done my best.

When we first meet Tom, he is a 34-year-old naval architect. He was born in 1873 to a well-off, privileged family in Ireland. From childhood, Tom has a reputation for compassion and generosity toward people and animals. He has worked his way up in the shipyard, starting as an apprentice when he was sixteen. He has degrees in naval architecture and engineering. He is much loved by the men in the Yard, and is considered one of the best shipbuilders in the world.

Tom’s fault? I hesitate to say that the real Thomas Andrews may have been a “yes” man, but I did get that impression from some of the research I did. As in any business, there are times during a ship’s construction when safety conflicts with schedule or cost. Did the real Thomas Andrews give in about features he knew were needed?

So in my book, I tried to show that Tom hates to disappoint people. This applies especially to those who hold power over him – supervisors, managers, and his uncle – Lord William Pirrie, who heads the shipyard. Once he knows of Titanic’s fate, Tom must learn to stand his ground and insist on providing Titanic with features that will be needed to save lives, even if the cost is hard feelings or damage to his career.

In all fairness to the real Thomas Andrews – Titanic had far more safety features than were required at the time. More lifeboats, higher bulkheads, more watertight compartments… and we can’t blame the builders for not seeing the future. The reasons for Titanic’s sinking are myriad, and we only need to look at our own modern disasters to realize how much we don’t know.

___________________________
About the author:
Marlene Dotterer grew up as a desert rat in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, she loaded her five children into the family station wagon, and drove north-west to the foggy San Francisco Bay Area. To stay warm, she tackled many enterprises, earning a degree in geology, working for a national laboratory, and running her own business as a personal chef. She’s a frustrated gardener, loves to cook, and teaches natural childbirth classes. She says she writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times.

She is married to The Best Husband in the World, and lives in Pleasant Hill, California.

Her website is http://marlenedotterer.wordpress.com/

_____________________________
Marlene is on a blog tour this weekend, and this is what she says about it:

Must Have Give-Aways!
Ships are launched with a bottle of champagne. My book is about a ship, so…

Actually, perhaps it’s best if I don’t try to mail anyone a bottle of champagne. But how about a free book?

Throughout the blog tour, I’ll keep track of everyone who leaves a comment on any of the blogs and enter them into a drawing. At the end of the tour, I’ll pick three winners, each to receive an autographed copy of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder.

So, read on! Comment!

___________________________

Posted by annakashina at 9/3/2011 10:03 PM 
Categories: uncategorized

Happy release day: Shipbuilder!

Posted on September 3, 2011 by Amy Raby

I first met Marlene Dotterer on the OWW when I was looking for critique partners for my first novel. Marlene responded to my inquiry, but we were out of sync. Novels are posted chapter by chapter. I had just posted my chapter 1, and she was on something like chapter 9.

I took a look at her chapter anyway, and the quality of the writing made me decide to go ahead with the partnership. I asked if she could send me the first 8 chapters of her novel so I could get caught up. She did so, and I printed them out and started reading, figuring I’d read a chapter a day and be caught up and ready to critique in a little over a week.

Guys, I could not put those chapters down. I read them all at one sitting!

The novel I am talking about is The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder, about two people inadvertently sent 100 years into the past who find the Titanic under construction. Should they interfere with what they know is going to happen to that ship? Will it spoil their chances of returning home? Can they change what happens? In celebration of the release of this novel, which I greatly enjoyed, I’m interviewing Marlene on my blog today:

1. What inspired you to write Shipbuilder?

MD:
First, let me thank you, Amy, for hosting me today. I really appreciate the chance to crow!

I was inspired to write Shipbuilder after I found out who Thomas Andrews was. For some reason, I felt very attuned to him. Everything I read mentioned how good he was and how so many people loved him. I just had a very strong empathetic response to all those people, and the shock and heartbreak they felt when he died. The book is my tribute to him, really.

2. When I read Shipbuilder, what grabbed me in the early chapters was Casey’s plight when the time travel mishap sent her 100 years into the past. She’d been a college student and had some skills, but because of her sex and the time period in which she’d landed, they were almost entirely without economic value, and she had no friends or family to turn to. The period details you provided in those chapters made her situation feel absolutely real. What sort of research did you do to make this time period come to life?

MD:
Before my research, I had many misconceptions about the time period. In fact, I’ll admit that you couldn’t pick a time in human history that I was less interested in. I read some books about the era, such as The 1900s Lady, by Kate Caffrey, and Edwardian Life and Leisure by Ronald Pearsall . But all the books I found centered around life in England. The upper class of Ireland would have lived in the same way as the upper class in England, so these books were helpful with things like how a lady spent her days, or how much money it took to run a typical household for a year.

Some of it was hilarious. The Edwardians (like the Victorians before them) had stringent rules regarding female behavior. Girls under 18 were considered children, assigned to the nursery and schoolhouse, learning to read, write, and sew.  At 18, they “came out” to society, and were considered eligible for courting. But they were never left alone – a chaperone followed them literally everywhere. Girls were not told a single thing about sex, not a peep. There a lots of stories about how terrified young brides were on their wedding nights (they did get “the talk” from their mothers the night before, but I’m sure it was minimal, at best). I must confess to a certain doubt about these stories – these girls were around animals all their lives. Dogs, cats, horses, cows… they could not have been entirely ignorant of the matter.

In most of the UK (and in America) girls married fairly young. But the Irish were different in this regard. People married later – most girls were in their late twenties, most men in their thirties. I hedge this a bit in my book, as Casey is only 22 when she marries Tom. The real Helen Andrews was 28 when they married.

Actually, it was reading about Thomas Andrews, and the extended Andrews family, that made the era come alive for me. It helped me see them as people with real lives and hopes, who cheered at sporting events and read the newspaper every day.

3. Later on, the novel centers around Thomas Andrews, the man who built the Titanic, who is also the story’s romantic hero. Can you tell us any little-known facts or anecdotes about him?

MD:
Oh, I’d love to! There is so much I couldn’t put into the book. For instance, he had a great affinity with children and animals. One of my favorite anecdotes is how he rescued a kitten when he was about 9 or maybe 12, years old. His church was having a fund-raiser, and someone was auctioning off kittens. One of the kittens got stuck in a hole somewhere and no one could get it out. “Tommie” spend several minutes speaking softly to the kitty to calm it down and finally coaxed it out. He got to keep the kitten in payment.

Another time, as a teenager, he helped lead a group of boys on a hiking trip. They traveled for several days, and once stopped at an inn for the night. The younger boys got a little rowdy, jumping on a bed, and eventually breaking it. Tom took responsibility for it, assuring the landlady he would pay to have it fixed. She told him that even repaired, the bed would not be fit for her guesthouse, so he needed to pay for a new bed. He agreed, but made her promise that he could dispose of the old bed as he saw fit.

So the next day, he and the boys took the repaired bed to the home of a woman who worked at the inn as a washer-woman. They set it up, and then lifted her disabled husband from his bed on the dirt floor onto his new, soft mattress. The couple said they felt like royalty with such a grand thing in their home.

There are dozens of stories like this. Thomas Andrews was simply a kind, compassionate human being. He was like that until the moment he died, as many people testified how he did all he could to save lives as the Titanic was sinking. He made no effort to save himself.

4. Shipbuilder is something of a genre-bender, combining elements of historical fiction, science fiction, and romance. What are some of your own favorite genres to read, and some of your favorite authors?

MD:
Science fiction is my absolute favorite. I’ve been reading it since I was eight! Fantasy, especially when it’s about witches or elves. I also read a lot of non-fiction: science, food, health, politics…

Favorite authors – that’s hard to pin down. I’ll list a few authors whose books I’ll pick up without hesitation:

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
Diana Gabaldon
Julie Czernada
Connie Willis
Jack McDevitt
Diane Duane

5. What’s your writing process like? Are you an outliner or a pantser? Do you revise a lot or a little?

MD:
I’m mostly a pantser. I usually dive into a new story, with just a few scenes in mind. The scenes are in no particular order, so I have a mishmash. I figure out a path for the story, but it’s really just a thread at this point. About half-way through, I have to step back and make an outline. I find a timeline is most helpful for me. It really helps me see what the story’s about and where it’s going.

I revise a LOT. Oh, my head…

6. Give us one Cool Fact about yourself and one Quirky Fact.

MD:
I’m not sure I can differentiate. Aren’t my quirky facts also cool? Or is it vice versa? But let’s see:

I’m a Slow-Food, Real Food, crunchy-granola kind of person, who eats whole grains, and organic, local food as much as possible. There is no white flour in my house.

I’ve had at least six careers in my life. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

7. What’s your best advice for aspiring writers?

By “best” I hope you don’t mean just one thing. I have a list: finish the book and write another one. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Join a critique group. Believe in yourself, but never stop learning.

The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder is available in these formats: Kindle | SmashwordsPaperback

Posted by: pattyjansen | September 2, 2011

Guest post: Marlene Dotterer, author of Shipbuilder, the Time Travel Journeys

 I’ve known Marlene for a long time, since I joined OWW in 2004. Already, she was working on an interesting project, involving the sinking–or maybe not–of the Titanic. The result is her book Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder.

Marlene talks about her book and the research she did to write it with historical accuracy.

Must Have Give-Aways!

Ships are launched with a bottle of champagne. My book is about a ship, so…

Actually, perhaps it’s best if I don’t try to mail anyone a bottle of champagne. But how about a free book?

Throughout the blog tour, I’ll keep track of everyone who leaves a comment on any of the blogs and enter them into a drawing. At the end of the tour, I’ll pick three winners, each to receive an autographed copy of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder.

So, read on! Comment!

About the book:

Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.

Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?

To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future?

Or should they let him die?

Before You Write: Research!

Thank you for letting me borrow your blog, Patty. I’m glad to be here, and to meet your readers. I promise to tidy up before handing it back to you.

I’m so excited to have The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder out in the world. It’s been quite a journey, from idea to fruition. When I first decided to write a novel about Thomas Andrews, I knew I had research to do. Writing any novel takes a certain amount of knowledge about the strangest subjects. After all, when you invent a world, and characters to populate it, you have to know how that world functions. You have to know what your characters know. If you have a character who is an expert in wine-making (for example), you have to learn a bit about wine-making, or your book will suffer greatly.

Thomas Andrews built large, ocean-going vessels. Cruise liners.

I grew up in a desert.

You see my problem.

Shipbuilding wasn’t the only thing I needed to learn about. TTJ: Shipbuilder is science fiction, but it takes place in Ireland,1906 – 1912. It’s a novel about a well-known historical event. So my world was not one made up by me – it’s one we can all read about in books, or even see in old movies. In addition, Thomas Andrews was a member of the upper class, one of the “landed gentry.” His uncle was a viscount. I don’t exactly move in those circles.

Then there was the Titanic herself. I knew what most people know about Titanic: whatever was in James Cameron’s movie.

Let’s not forget the physics of time travel. What would Stephen Hawking think if I screwed that up?

Can you imagine the research I had to do?

Over the years, millions of words have been written about Titanic and everyone connected with her. If I go into detail here, you’ll feel you’re back in a college seminar, so I’ll just point you to the bibliography page on my website, here. I read every one of those books and websites, as well as others. I took notes. I made timelines. I joined forums and asked questions. At times, it felt like I was writing a term paper. But it was always fascinating.

I’m not a mechanically talented person, so most of the technical detail on shipbuilding was lost on me. In the end, I was mostly concerned with the character of Thomas Andrews. I wanted to explore the idea of what he might do if given a second chance at life, knowing that the ship he was building would hit an iceberg and sink, unless he could prevent it. Such a chance would mean everything to him, and he would never throw it aside. I hope I was able to achieve a balance where the technicalities of shipbuilding form a stable backdrop to the story, without taking center stage. The book covers the years when Titanic was being built, but does not go into detail about the actual building process.

I had fun researching the role of the Edwardian lady. My character, Casey Wilson, is a typical 21st century girl, brought up by liberal parents in the permissive San Francisco Bay Area. Casey has to figure out how to navigate the oppressive waters of Edwardian Ireland while holding onto her dignity and free-thinking ways. Women in this era ranged from over-protected, stifled wives and daughters, to poverty-stricken, hard-working servants or factory workers. This was also the era of suffragettes and the beginnings of progress toward women’s rights. Casey experiences all of it, from trying to find work when she and Sam first arrive in 1906, to running an upper-class household as the fictional wife of Thomas Andrews.

Ireland is a fascinating and troubled country at any time, and the Edwardian era is no exception. The constant struggle between religious and political factions, along with the rise of unions and workers’ rights, make this a particularly volatile period. Sam and Casey find themselves in the middle of all of it, and eventually they understand that they must try to change more than just the Titanic.

I also researched the state of science in this time and place. Sam is a physicist, and I could not imagine any modern physicist going back to 1906 and not trying to contact Albert Einstein. This was a fun part of the book for me, as I read Walter Isaccson’s new biography, Einstein, His Life and Universe, and Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams. What do you think Einstein’s response would have been to the presence of Sam and Casey?

And what about the time travel? Oh, I researched. I researched a lot. In the end, the mechanics of the time travel don’t really enter into this story, so I treat it as a simple factual event that starts the book. This book is about Thomas Andrews, not time travel, per se.

The next book in the The Time Travel Journals series is Bridgebuilders – THAT’S where the time travel gets down and dirty…

Marlene Dotterer grew up as a desert rat in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, she loaded her five children into the family station wagon, and drove north-west to the foggy San Francisco Bay Area. To stay warm, she tackled many enterprises, earning a degree in geology, working for a national laboratory, and running her own business as a personal chef. She’s a frustrated gardener, loves to cook, and teaches natural childbirth classes. She says she writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times.

She is married to The Best Husband in the World, and lives in Pleasant Hill, California.

Her website is http://marlenedotterer.wordpress.com/

You can buy your copy of Shipbuilder at:

Smashwords

Amazon Kindle

Amazon estore for the paperback version

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