Edith here, happy to welcome fellow Sister in Crime Carol Pouliot to talk about time-traveling characters. Threshold of Deceit, her new time-travel mystery, came out this week from Level Best Books, in a series with a very cool premise. Read on!
On a sunny spring day in 1934, a local lothario is murdered in broad daylight. Tackling the investigation, Detective Steven Blackwell discovers the man’s little black book, a coded list of dozens of flings, affairs, and one-night stands−and a solid motive for the widow. A witness goes missing, a second body turns up, the victim’s cousin disappears, and an old flame surfaces. Two months earlier, Steven came face to face with 21st-century journalist Olivia Watson when time folded over in the house they share−80 years apart. Now, Steven and Olivia test the boundaries of time travel. Can Steven and Olivia solve the case of the poisoned philanderer in time to protect her true identity and their time-travel secret?
Will They or Won’t They?
I love the creative process of writing. It’s challenging and there are many decisions to be made. One of those decisions deals with character. Who are the main characters and what are they like? What are their hopes and dreams? What motivates them? What do they fear?
Because I write a time-travel mystery series, I needed to create two characters who could find common ground and relate to each other even though they live 80 years apart. My protagonists are Detective Sergeant Steven Blackwell and Olivia Watson, both in their early 30s and single. Steven lives and solves crime in 1934. Olivia is a former journalist who owns a research agency and writes free-lance travel articles. She lives in the present day. Since they first saw each other when time folded over in the house where they both live, they’ve learned how to travel to each other’s time and have spent many evenings together.
I was lucky because I felt like I already knew Steven−somehow he came to me fully formed. He’s ethical and drives himself to discover the killer and get justice for the victim, often at the cost of his personal life. Like most young, unmarried people in the 1930s, Steven lived at home with his artist mother until her recent unexpected and devastating death. His father works for the Navy in Washington, D.C. and comes home when he can. Steven inherited his mother’s Bohemian, non-judgmental outlook on life and his father’s love and appreciation of rules and routines. These qualities serve him well when he’s working on a case.
Olivia is a modern, independent young woman. She lives alone in a house that she owns. She’s curious about the world, travels extensively, and is always ready for an adventure. Olivia doesn’t let anything stop her if there’s something she wants to do. She runs and practices kickboxing, a sport Steven has never even heard of.
Steven and Olivia are different yet they complement each other. Steven is regimented, Olivia is a free spirit. He is fascinated by the future and reads science fiction. She dreams of the Golden Age of Travel during the 1930s and watches old Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto movies. Where Steven carefully considers his actions, Olivia often acts without thinking.
In order to create conflict between Steven and Olivia over a multiple-book series, there needed to be a certain dynamic between them. I decided to place them in starkly different points in their lives. Since Steven’s mother’s death, he misses sharing his day and talking to someone in the evening. He’s lonely and could use a friend. Olivia is healing from the devastating betrayal of her ex-fiancé and is thoroughly enjoying being single again.
Each of the books in my series is a traditional mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing who committed the crime(s). But, the biggest question of all is Will they or won’t they? Could they?
Readers: What do you think about the potential for a relationship between two people who live in different centuries? Could they manage it? How would they do it?
A Francophile at age 11, Carol Pouliot dreamed of getting her passport and going to Paris. With an MA in French from Stony Brook University, she headed to France for her first teaching job. Carol is the author ofthe Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, which includes Doorway to Murder and the latest Threshold of Deceit. Find Carol at www.carolpouliot.com