Sweet Sixteener Emily Skrutskie recently spoke to Fearless Fifteener Melissa Hurst about her debut YA science fiction novel, THE EDGE OF FOREVER (June 2, 2015 from Sky Pony Press).
Melissa Hurst lives in the southern US with her husband and three kids. She writes YA science fiction and fantasy, which means she considers watching Star Trek and Firefly as research. She dreams of traveling around the world and maybe finding Atlantis one day. You can usually find her with a book in one hand and a Dr. Pepper in the other. Or consuming lots of chocolate.
In 2013: Sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea of how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.
In 2146: Seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.
And that someone is named Alora.
Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.
Emily: THE EDGE OF FOREVER is such a unique blend of sci-fi time travel and contemporary —how did you come up with the idea for the story? I’m guessing Star Trek might have had something to do with it. 😉
Melissa: After shelving my first book in early 2011, I struggled for a while trying to come up with another story to write. One day while I was driving, I heard the song “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry on the radio, and I was thinking about an old sci-fi time-travel movie called Somewhere in Time. And I thought, hey wouldn’t it be cool to have a boy travel to the past to save a girl who was supposed to die? Originally, I tried to make it a boy from our present traveling to the past (I was thinking sometime in the 1950s), but I didn’t really like it. Then I thought it would be even better to make him from our future. I wasn’t thinking of the old Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever” when I first started brainstorming the plot, but I eventually did realize they shared some elements, so I decided to use THE EDGE OF FOREVER as my title as a nod to it.
Emily: What was your publication journey like?
Melissa: I discovered my love of writing while I was in middle school. I wrote throughout my school years, stopped once I started college, and didn’t start back until 2009. It took me two years to write my first book, then I shelved it when I realized nobody wanted dystopian books anymore. THE EDGE OF FOREVER is the second book I wrote.
Emily: Not only does your narrative switch between two POVs, it also hops through time. How did you keep all of it organized in the process of drafting and revising the book?
Melissa: Oh man, that was hard. I created a beat sheet in the beginning so I could keep track of all the main plot points, then I printed out calendars to write down what happened on each date. I also created a timeline to help me keep track of major events that happened in the future timeline and the one happening in 2013. And I also used a notebook to help me figure out what to include in each chapter before I actually wrote it. This included who the POV character would be, his/her goal and motivation, and what actually would happen in the chapter.
Emily: No spoilers, but the end of THE EDGE OF FOREVER leaves the world wide open. Can we expect to hear more of Bridger and Alora’s story?
Melissa: I’m happy to say yes! There will be two books in this series.
Lightning Round Questions:
Would you rather be a Time Bender or Space Bender?
Songs that remind you most of THE EDGE OF FOREVER?
“If I Die Young” by The Band Perry, “A Beautiful Lie” by 30 Seconds to Mars, “Still” by Foo Fighters, and “Back Down South” by Kings of Leon.
Favorite time travel book/movie/TV show? (Other than THE EDGE OF FOREVER, of course!)
I’ll give one of each! 🙂 Book – ALL OUR YESTERDAYS; Movie – Back to the Future; TV Show – Quantum Leap.
If you could time travel like a Time Bender, what time would you visit first?
That’s a hard question. But since I love learning about conspiracies, I think it would be awesome if I could travel to Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 and see what really crashed there.
If you could teleport like a Space Bender, where would you go first?
Ahhh, another hard question! There are so many places I want to visit. But I think the number one place would have to be London, England.
Best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
I know this has been said so many times before, but don’t chase trends. You have to really love what you’re working on because you will literally have to read it over and over and over again. If it’s not something you honestly love, you will more than likely give up long before you finish it.
About the Interviewer
Emily Skrutskie is six feet tall. She was born in Massachusetts, raised in Virginia, and forged in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado. She attended Cornell University, where she studied an outrageous and demanding combination of film, computer science, and game design. Her short fiction has been published by HarperTeen.
In her debut novel, THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US, (Flux, Winter 2016), Seventeen-year-old Cas Leung has spent her whole life training sea monsters to defend ships from pirates. When pirates kidnap her and force her to rear a beast of their own, Cas must decide whether taking vengeance on her captors is worth becoming even more monstrous than the pup she’s raising.