by AB Raphaelle
My debut novel, as an indie author, was released early last fall. When We Were Warm: A Futuristic Time Travel Romance is currently, and exclusively, available from Amazon.com. Although it is a romance novel, it’s certainly not the typical romance—not by any stretch of the imagination. In summary; the story is about a nurse who witnesses a murder. She dreams about an unusual man—a stranger—and then she actually meets this man on the street. He tells her he’s a trans-human man—a time traveler from the year 2050. As fantastic as it sounds, this story was inspired by a real-life experience of my own; an unusual vision I had in 2012—of a man with glimmering skin who approached me in the financial district of San Francisco. He spoke to me, saying that he was a time traveler who had come to warn us about a coming threat to humanity. Some may wonder why I might write about this extraordinary experience as fiction, in a romance novel (of all things)—and to them, I pose the question: would you believe me if I told you it was true? There are many other unusual experiences in this book that are also absolutely true—but again, if they were written as fact, I’m not sure that anyone would believe me.
The main characters in my book are mostly composites of actual people; one being a real nurse, who I blend with various characteristics derived from my own personality and experiences—and the other being a young David Byrne, who I use as a jumping-off point to create the character named Aroya. In fact, David Byrne’s music greatly influenced my ideas throughout the writing of this story. That’s generally how I write—music is a huge inspiration for me. I also use real personalities, often well-known people, as jumping-off points for developing my characters. Before I begin writing, I actually list my cast—assigning real people to play each part, as if I were casting a movie. (I guess those screenwriting classes really did influence my writing process.)
The target audience for my book is probably women, ages 21 to 70—especially women who have a strong spiritual bent. The entire book is sprinkled with philosophical and spiritual insights—presented as lessons learned by the main characters, as they stumble awkwardly through various ordeals and adventures. Although the two main characters, Abbie and Aroya, gradually develop supernatural powers, they still retain a certain naïveté—continuing on through their adventures, perpetually unsure of themselves.
Romance novels inevitably call for obligatory sex scenes. Therefore, I tried my best to construct sex scenes with sensitivity—emphasizing tenderness and beauty over smutty exhibitionism. Not that smut is a bad thing—it has its place, I suppose—it just didn’t fit very well with my characters or my story. My sex scenes, although not smutty, are still quite passionate—and of course, sex is always better when founded on genuine emotion. The main story is based on time travel and romance, obviously—but also running through the storyline are three other themes: the threat of losing our humanity, the importance of beauty, and the decay of my beloved San Francisco—which happens to be my hometown in real life; and also the home of my family for three generations.
One wonderful thing about time travel stories is their unending potential for successive adventures—and I do plan on continuing the series, both forward and backward in time. Through the years, I’ve written in various forms—however, I do admit to being quite new at novel writing. My self-directed lessons in the craft, the marketing, and also in indie publishing, have all been extremely challenging—but also quite fulfilling. The peculiar experience of watching and listening, as my characters carry the story forward in unexpected ways, is extraordinary—and sometimes even startling! In the beginning, I wasn’t very confident with my dialogue—but after becoming well-acquainted with my characters; I began to hear their voices in my head—and from then on, I simply transcribed their conversations. Forming a personal relationship with my characters was absolutely essential for me to finally hear their voices—and in turn, their dialogue was absolutely essential for moving the story forward. Honestly, I fell in love with my characters to a degree that made me feel guilty for putting them through such hell at times—and sometimes I refused to stop writing if it meant that I would leave them in a difficult situation.
Although I still adore well-written prose—lately, my own writing style tends to serve the story and the characters, above all else. I no longer indulge in verbose escapades of exposition across the page. “If it doesn’t move the story forward, then it doesn’t belong on the page.” That’s what my screenwriting teacher used to say—and although the screenwriter and the novelist are two different animals, I do think that both forms of writing can benefit from this philosophy. Therefore, if the story is above all else—then a prideful exhibition of verse might only serve to weigh it down, like an excess of bows and lace upon an otherwise elegant evening gown. Striving to be more concise and elegant, is probably a good thing in both fashion and writing—therefore, like a sculptor with a pick and hammer, I chip away at the pages‚ seeking to find something precious buried beneath the great mess of words. The editing never seems to stop—it’s never perfect—but it’s always better.
I would like to thank the Authors’ Lounge for inviting me to submit this article about my book, When We Were Warm: A Futuristic Time Travel Romance.
Amazon link: https://tinyurl.com/bdekcrf2
Website link: https://abraphaelle.com/
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/SFgreeneyes3