It's the last day of Bon Voyage and we hope you've enjoyed our enthusiasm for Passenger. If you've read the book already, you know where we're coming from and if you haven't, I hope we've convinced you to check it out.
We're ending the week with an interview Alexandra Bracken. She was kind enough to stop by our blogs and she'll be answering three questions here and another three questions on Alexa's blog. We've had the pleasure of meeting her in person many times and she is just the sweetest! She has a lot to say about time travel and the role of music in her book.
Back to Colonial Williamsburg (CW being the W&M ~lingo~ for it), one thing that really strikes you as you’re walking around is that you’re meant to feel like you’ve traveled back in time. It's actually a really cool feeling if you take a minute to appreciate what they're trying to do. The historical reenactors speak to you as if you’re cruising Duke of Gloucester Street in 1776, not the 21st century. (If I had a dollar for every time one of them went, “You can’t be a student at the College! There are no women allowed at William & Mary!” I would be five dollars richer. At least.) There’s even an authentic animal-droppings smell to greet you! So I think the seeds of the initial idea were planted during my four years of hanging out with the reenactors at the local Wawa and wandering the streets between classes.
And, you know, thinking about this—being in CW and studying History at W&M added so much texture and perspective to my understanding about history. They take a very humanist approach there for the most part, which resonated with me—and they taught us to look for the inherent biases in how history is presented, as well as to look for the voices that aren’t being heard. That, too, informed how I approached this book.
|me & Alex! at Books of Wonder, signing copies of Passenger|
I vastly underestimated how complicated time travel is to write about. I think I was GChatting my friend and fellow writer, Anna Jarzab, every single day for a few months to try to bounce ideas off her about fixing one paradox or another. It cannot be understated how challenging it is to balance the right amount of information about how the system works so that readers aren’t confused or questioning the validity of something with not overwhelming them. I guess truly good time travel fiction makes it all seem really effortless, or, like Outlander, for example (a book series I LOVE), doesn’t really dwell on the mechanics of it.
My version of time travel is more in line with magic than science fiction/technology. I was worried that going with the latter would somehow be too much of a distraction from the character story I was trying to tell. It breaks down like this: certain people have inherited the ability to find and pass through passages that connect centuries and continents together. Those who inherit the trait are travelers, and those born into the families without it become guardians, meaning they monitor the passages and look out for their family’s best interests in whatever century or country they were born into but cannot travel themselves. After years of warring with each other for control of shaping the timeline, one family, the Ironwoods, have absorbed all of the others. Which is causing P-R-O-B-L-E-M-S, to say the least.
The sequel, Wayfarer, has been such a joy because it doesn’t have to be so centered on establishing the rules and limits of traveling, meaning there’s more room to explore aspects of their world I didn’t get to touch. For instance, I finally get to delve into why the passages exist and show that there’s a logic in how they’re connected to one another.
I do indeed have a playlist for your listening pleasure, distilled down from the 100+ songs on my drafting playlist. It was really, really fun to pull together music that fit the locations and time periods while also inserting classical pieces and modern music into the mix to help tell the story.
The top three songs I associate with PASSENGER are:
Nimrod (from “Enigma Variations”) – Edward Elgar
This piece of music, more than any other, brings to mind Nicholas. I hear it, and I see him standing on the deck of a tall ship that’s cutting through the waves, watching the play of sunlight on the water. I cry nearly every time I hear it—that’s how evocative and moving it is (and likely why it’s a popular pick at funerals, but that’s beside the point). I think it speaks to the innate nobility in Nicholas, his passion, and his determination to be the master of his own fate.
Colour Me In – Damien Rice
This is very much my Nicholas + Etta song, but, hilariously, I just recently read that Damien Rice didn’t really mean for it to be a true love song. I think that’s up for the listener to decide! My interpretation has always been that this man has been disappointed by love in the past, and is struggling to let his walls down to reveal vulnerable, intimate parts of himself. I’ve always tied it to their hesitance to act on their attraction to each other, as they know there’s no real future for them.
Time (from Inception) – Hans Zimmer
Appropriate music is appropriate! This one is just breathtaking and really encompasses the unstoppable, thunderous force that is time.
You can listen to the whole playlist over on Spotify.Me | 3 Questions with Alexandra Bracken
Thank you Alex for being on the blog today and
thank you to everyone who joined us this week.
Check out Alexa's blog to see the other half of the interview!
And don't forget to sign up for the giveaway.
Here are the rest of the posts
Me | Passenger Review
Alexa | Passenger Review
Me | St. Petersburg, 1905
Alexa | Time Travel
Me | London Calling
Alexa | Styling Etta & Nicholas
Alexa | Time Travel Book Recs
Alexa | 3 Questions with Alexandra Bracken