Friday, 31 July 2015

Through the looking glass

I'm nearing the end of writing The Time Bubble trilogy, and a most rewarding experience it has been. All being well, the final volume will be released at the end of September.

Thoughts are of course turning to "what do I write next?" This has been on my mind for some time. At one point I had a real fear that perhaps I had put so much into the books I'd already written that I'd run out of ideas. If that had been the case, then I would probably have stopped - there's no way I'd want to churn out unoriginal, sub-standard material just to earn a fast buck. I owe my fans more than that - I hope that's not too egotistical a thing to say.

Fortunately, the seeds of an idea have been forming in my mind as I've been writing the latest book. I'd like to share this idea with you now and ask what you think.

I feel I've pretty much gone as far as I can with the time travel theme. I've explored it from many angles, including a few quite unique ones. What I want to turn my attention to now is the "alternate universe" concept. This is nothing new. Star Trek had a whole mirror universe theme running through it's shows, and it's also been explored by Doctor Who, notably in episodes such as Inferno, Turn Left and Rise Of The Cybermen/ The Age Of Steel. There was also the little known American series Sliders, dedicated completelt to travelling through alternate worlds.

On the less hardcore sci-fi front, the most obvious example is the movie Sliding Doors, which at the risk of sounding sexist, I would class as female friendly sci-fi. This is a classic example of a film that bridged the gap between sci-fi and chick flick - of appeal to a far wider audience than the likes of Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons.

Helen's life changing moment

Obviously I'm not going to try and replicate any of those programmes and films - I like to be original. However, I can't help but be influenced by them. I liked the way that Sliding Doors examined how different Helen's life became, based on one chance happening.

I want to explore this from a different angle.

I thought back about my own life and the huge number of chance happenings that led me to where I am today. There are more than I care to recant. One small change anywhere could have altered things unrecognisably - something as small as picking up the local paper and browsing it the day I saw the ad for the job at Nielsen or whether I went to the pub or not on a certain night and met a new girlfriend. I could have lived any number of lives. But what kind of person would I be now if I had taken a different path. Would I still think and feel the same? Would I be a "better" person or a "worse" person, if it is even possible to measure such a thing?

My idea, is to take a man, aged around 35, and examine how his life turned out based on one key turning point in his life when he was younger.

Let's say for example, he could had a trial for a football club when he was 15. Depending on whether he passed or failed made the difference between become a rich,successful England striker, or just an ordinary Joe. It might not necessarily be football - I could just as easily make him a pop star or an actor.

What I want to do is take the two versions of this man and have them wake up in each other's shoes one morning. Then follow them as they try to adjust to their new found lives.

How will I write this? Well, in my usual "chatty" style, as one reviewer described it. It will definitely be written in the first person - I think that plays to my strengths as it did in My Tomorrow Your Yesterday. I can really get inside the character's head(s). As for the format, that's where I've come up with an idea to make it stand out from the crowd.

I want to write it as two books, simultaneously, each telling the same story from the other's viewpoint. For sake of simplicity, let's call them Black and White. The covers would reflect that - perhaps two sides of a chessboard. The two books would be released on the same day, with the key point that they are not volume 1 and volume 2 - they are volume White and volume Black. My intention is that it doesn't matter which book you read first - they can be read in either order and it will still make perfect sense.

Obviously writing two books at the same time means a long wait between releases - it could be as much as a year, maybe less, maybe more. If we get the go-ahead on the self-build plot we've applied for at Graven Hill, I imagine that's going to take up a huge amount of my time, but we will have to see.

Anyway, it's just an idea at this stage, I haven't even reached the planning stage yet, but I'd be interested to hear what my readers think about it.

 Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

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