Saturday, February 21, 2015

Slippery Slope

Behind the Story of Centenary Separation (Part 3)

Warning:  this post contains spoilers for Millennium Crash and Centenary Separation, and I recommend reading those books first.  Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing, which some of you may not want to know about.

I had worked out what the individual stories for the different characters would be – at least how they started and what they were about – but I discovered how those stories would unfold as I wrote them.  And it all began with Anya.

Since I wanted to start the stories of each of the four lost travelers with their sudden and disorienting appearances in times and places they shouldn’t have landed, I began the book with a prologue establishing the fact of their trip and where and when they’d intended to go.  Anya was the perfect person to reflect on their departure, since she had worked so hard to bring the travelers back together in Millennium Crash.  Her frustration over their leaving and her loneliness, combined with a sense of boredom at the prospect of a decade of nothing but research to occupy her time would tempt her into a reckless course of action – going back in time to try to save the professor.

While Anya had a practical knowledge of the time-travel technology the Watchbearers use, her understanding of the theory was uncertain.  She knew changing her personal past was supposed to be impossible, but she hadn’t grasped why.  Assuming it was just really, really difficult, Anya felt like she had to at least try to rescue her beloved mentor, even if she failed in the attempt.  Then, when she realizes the part she played in his death in the first place, it would be a blow.

At the same time, Anya would also discover that the driver who hit the professor was tracking her with one of their watches – tying the accident back in with Kirin’s missing travel device and the hit the woman had put out on Sam.  Trying to make up for her mistake and deal with that situation sends Anya spiraling down a course of action and reaction unusual for the normally level-headed former nurse.  And that drives the rest of her story as she struggles to return to her old equilibrium.

As capable as she is, especially in crisis situations, even Anya could get herself into trouble she couldn’t handle on her own.  This not only provided an opportunity to bring back Mr. Hollingsworth, it also ended up bringing Nye into Anya’s story in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

In Millennium Crash, Anya had taken a lot on herself, trying to shoulder what would’ve been the professor’s burden – taking care of her fellow researchers and salvaging their original mission.  And she’d succeeded well enough to convince herself she really could complete that task.  This story brings her back down to reality and forces herself to examine what she can and can’t do, as well as what she really wants.  In the end she can put the past behind her and move forward with a new life.  And part of the reason for that flows from how the end of her story merges with Verity’s.
Next:  Part 4 – The Honeymooners

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