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From Barnes & NobleWhy I wrote the Map of Time
I was inspired to write The Map of Time by The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, one of my favorite writers. The protagonist in that novel, which was published for the first time in 1895, is an inventor who builds a machine that enables him to travel into the future. I devoured that book as a boy, but when I reread it as an adult, I was surprised to find I didn't feel that same rush of emotion. I realized that part of why I was so taken with the book is that I actually believed a time machine could exist and that one day perhaps I too could travel into the future. That must have been how Wells' contemporaries felt. Science was taking such a grand leap forward in the nineteenth century and anything seemed possible. Travel into the future? Beyond the frame of our normal existence? To see things not destined for our eyes? I could almost see them rubbing their chins in hopeful fascination as they closed the novel, imagining it was only a matter of time before someone brought Wells' invention to life. Maybe in mere months, they'd imagine, someone would devise a contraption similar to the machines of their time, with gears and rods and pumping pistons, and ladies with feathered hats and gentlemen with bow ties and monocles would hop aboard for a ride. I couldn't get this image out of my head and that's when I knew I had found the seed of inspiration for my novel.
But I had never written any novel quite like this. To do it, I'd have to immerse myself in the Victorian era and think like an Englishman from the nineteenth century. I didn't know if I had it in me, but I was so drawn to the idea that I decided to risk it. I started to educate myself on the period so I could realistically portray what a fascinating time it was to be alive in London, the largest city on earth. I imagined rooftop chimneys lining the landscape in every direction toward the horizon, their billowing smoke mixing with the haze coming off the Thames to give London its distinctive fog. A time when the Empire's high achievements coexisted with grave-robbing and the occult. A place where opulence and wealth shared a city with the Dickensian poverty of the East End, where one of the most famous murderers in recorded history, Jack the Ripper, stalked the shadows.
I wanted fictional characters as protagonists, but I felt it would give the tale an air of authenticity to have them share the pages with Jack the Ripper, Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man, and prominent writers of the time such as Bram Stoker and Henry James. And if anyone deserved a place in my novel it was H.G. Wells. His inclusion would allow me to pay homage to the man who wrote in my favorite genre, science fiction, and who inspired this book. But I didn't want Wells' character to be two-dimensional, a stereotype with predictable behavior. No, I wanted to get inside his head, to understand his view of the world through the books he had written, the women he had loved, the friends he had made. I wanted to think like him or, at worst, to create a new Wells—one infused with my own humanity.
And, most of all, I wanted to create a fast-paced novel filled with love and adventure, one that would explore the ways that imagination can save lives, a book that spoke to the nature of time, which, after all, defines who and what we are. A novel that, in short, would pay a modest tribute to the books that made a young boy dream.
I hope that you enjoy this wonderful ride.
Felix J. Palma