A note from BigAl: I normally discourage guest posts that delve too deeply into a writer's "process," but when I saw what John Rasor's book was about (just like it says, a "history" of time travel) I thought it was different enough that knowing what inspired him to write on this topic and how he went about putting it together might make an interesting topic.
My latest book is A Brief History of Time Travel, and I’ve been asked to describe my process, so here goes. My inspiration for the book is my love for the TV show Fringe, and the ending left us with something of a paradox. I sought to explain away that paradox, because the show was so good, but what I came up with also lent itself to a book, so I just went for it.
I would guess that writers use all different kinds of processes to tell their stories – and in this case, writing non-fiction is also telling a story. In English class, we are taught to make an outline and to create structure, but somehow, I’m able to do that in my head. Am I a savant? Hardly! But that’s my process, and it works for me. For all five of my books this has been my way – to just sit down and tell a story. If research is required, I do it as I go. For this new book, I did more research than for any other book – you should see my “favorites” files on my computer. It’s loaded, so that I can toggle back and forth between Word and info, sometimes copying and pasting below as I go, so that I can glance down as I write. If I have nothing to write about, I simply don’t write; but when I do, I never experience writer’s block. Writing for a purpose always seems to invigorate me; in my head the story is complete, though lacking the necessary detail. The detail presents itself as I write, and rarely slows me down. The fact that I never learned to type is what slows me down – but it may also be what paces me. If I typed like my wife, who is a whiz, I don’t know if my process would change. But as it stands I’m pretty happy with it, as it has served me well so far.
To tell the story of A Brief History of Time Travel, as in all things, I need a place to start, and this one’s easy. I start at the beginning. The book – essentially about time and fictitious people traveling through it – doesn’t need to be in chronological order to be interesting. So themes present themselves, and I go with that. I already know what I want to talk about, so I begin at the beginning, with H. G. Wells, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain – who all contributed to its beginnings. Star Trek is the biggest venue, and will overlap into other themes, so that’s next – that way, people know what you’re talking about when you bring it up again and again throughout. Chapter Three is about timelines and alternate realities, also because those are recurring themes. “Deus ex Machina” is quite prevalent in science fiction, so that’s next. The rest is fairly flexible as I get rolling, and could easily be arranged differently, but it works well, so I don’t. In fifteen chapters, I visit everything I want to discuss, and the book has structure. Occasionally, something will occur to me that I forgot, so I find the appropriate chapter and work it in. Humor is a big plus, so I look out for that along the way. Also, as humans, our egos demand some tribute and emotion, so we add a dash or two of that. We’re all in awe of certain people, and I give them their due along the way; Stephen Hawking, and a whole lot of famous writers, directors, movie and TV stars. Mix with care, and you have A Brief History of Time Travel. Then you have to cook it.
I do this by getting my wife, who has an English degree from university, to edit. Then, I re-read and edit her editing, and give her another go to make it perfect – then I publish. Raking in the dough comes last.
As yet, I haven’t had to go out and buy an actual rake, as this last part is only the desirable result, and oft times, unfortunately, not what actually happens. But at the very least, I had fun…
Get your copy of A Brief History of Time Travel from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords.
John Rasor's Bio:
I've been writing for 20 years or more. I read a lot when I was younger and one day said to myself, "Hey, I can do that!” And I believe that I can.
My first published book is a novel, Roadkill. It’s a serial killer thriller about a man who has lost his wife and unborn child because of a careless driver on her cellphone. Feeling he has been wronged by fate, and longing for revenge, he proceeds to wreak havoc on drivers using cellphones throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. The book follows both the killer and the police who are searching for him – with a lot of help from some motorcycle process servers along the way.
My second published book is non-fiction, How Lost Got Lost, and is my take on the TV series Lost and how it failed its fans in the end with the worst ending to a TV series of all time.
I have just published my third book - inspired by the TV show Fringe – which had an ending as wonderful as Lost’s was bad. The new book is called A Brief History of Time Travel. Despite its title, it is a comprehensive look at literary time travel over the last century and more. The book reminds us all of many fascinating tales from books, movies and on TV; what was good about them, and what didn’t work. The book also explains the rules of literary time travel and discusses the physics and concepts involved. The book also has a humorous side, because, let's face it – time travel in the real world has been deemed impossible by the likes of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Time travel enthusiasts should find this book quite informative and – as Mr. Spock might say – fascinating.
I have also written two other books which haven't as yet been published. Confessions of a Hollywood Messenger is about all the wonderful things I saw on the amazing job I was forced to take when I was perceived as "too old" to continue my career in manufacturing and aerospace. My second as-yet-unpublished book was a novel, The Meter-Maid Murders. It revolves around the parking police in Los Angeles, and the killer who is stalking and killing them.