It was a comedy, but in the middle of a crowded theater, I cried. It was, of course, dark while the film played, so no one saw. And by the time Christopher Lloyd uttered the final line of the movie, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” and the time-traveling DeLorean lifted into the air, I was back to myself.
The idea had been to get out of the house and do something fun. But a film about a teenager who travels back in time and has to make sure his parents live happily ever after was difficult for this eight-year-old to watch. My parents had gotten divorced only months before, and I would have done anything to go back in time and fix it.
The movie was, of course, Back to the Future, and it became the catalyst for my lifelong crush on time travel books, movies, and TV shows. It’s not about the pseudo-science (though I can get picky when stories break their own rules), and it’s not about history (but I do like when a movie about time travel inadvertently becomes a period piece). I think it’s about something more universal than that. I like time travel because, whether we realize it or not, we’re all time travelers.
Each of us is traveling into the future one day, one hour, one minute at a time. We are hopelessly stuck on this ride with no way to turn back, no way to go faster, and no way to stop. A good story about time travel asks What if you could do things differently? What if you weren’t a victim of the hand you’d been dealt? What if you knew how your story is going to end? These are the kinds of thoughts we’ve all had at one moment or another, and it’s what intrigued me about writing a time travel adventure of my own.
Plunge is the first novel I’ve completed in a planned trilogy of books. Yes, it’s about time travel, but it’s really about people who are feeling their way through life, friends who discover they each have a unique role to play in this world. It’s about loss and longing, redemption and regret. It’s about you and me and every eight-year-old who’s ever cried in the back of a movie theater.
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