Tim Ashby shares the struggles of characters from different time periods to understand each other–a challenge I know quite a bit about myself:) Welcome Tim.
Hello! In my new book, TIME FALL, I gave myself the job of creating realistic characters from two different time periods who must interact with one another. This task turned out to be both challenging and fun! I had a time-traveling WWII soldier falling in love with a modern-day medical student, and I had to make it all believable. Many readers have asked me questions about the process, so I hope you’ll enjoy this Q & A. (***I did and the book sounds fantastic)
In TIME FALL 6 US Army soldiers are sent, in 1945, on a mission to hit Nazi targets behind enemy lines. They parachute into a crazy electrical storm and disappear, officially Missing in Action for almost 70 years. In fact, they are pulled out of their own time and into ours. They land in deeply forested Germany, still believing it is 1945, and begin to attack.
I hope this work keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they are torn between rooting for these brave men, and knowing that the targets the men seek to destroy are innocent.
Q. In Time Fall, your lead female character, Paula von Scheller, is a 20-something medical student who is held hostage by the out-of-time US Army soldiers. It takes her a while to figure out who these guys are. How did you go about deciding how long to let her struggle?
As all the action in the book happens in less than 48 hours in present-day Germany, I had to accelerate the process of the modern characters figuring out that “a miracle of time” had occurred, yet keep it believable. I achieved this by letting Paula’s grandfather – a WW II German Luftwaffe veteran – question the Rangers in her presence about the culture of the 1930s and 40s – popular songs, sports figures, movie stars, etc.
Q. Tell us a little about what the soldiers looked like to the modern-day woman.
“Von Scheller … peered closely at Holcombe’s uniform. It seemed unlike the pictures of contemporary American soldiers in newspapers and magazines — more similar, in fact, to photos in World War II histories. This had to be a hoax. An elaborate and cruel practical joke.
Von Scheller cleared his throat. “We are the victims of a hoax, Paula. These are not real American soldiers. They are probably left-wing students trying to punish me in some sick way for my service in the Luftwaffe.”
Holcombe paused with the spoon halfway to his mouth. “The hell you say we’re not real American soldiers! I’m a member in good standing of the best goddam fighting unit in the world, the US Second Ranger Battalion!”
“If that is true,” Paula said,” how can you claim you joined the army in 1941? You look no older than twenty!”
Holcombe banged the spoon and can on the floor.
“What the hell’s wrong with you crazy Krauts? You trying to get my goat or something?” He took out a US Army pay book with his ID card clipped to it and tossed it to Paula. “This’ll prove I’m the real McCoy!”
Paula examined the dog-eared piece of cardboard headed “Enlisted Mans Identification Card, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army.”
“Opa, these say his name is Private First Class Daniel R. Holcombe, Company B, Second United States Ranger Battalion.” She looked up, her expression mingling wonder and disbelief. “It gives his date of birth as October 8, 1924. That’s impossible!”
Q. What were some of the obstacles you faced in making the interactions realistic?
Both parties (the soldiers from 1945, and the modern-day Germans) had to initially believe the others were insane, even though both were rational within their own time context. Also, because the action takes within less than 48 hours, I had to fit the different scenes together like a fine clockwork mechanism (no time travel pun intended) to make the plot work. Furthermore, I did a great deal of research on the culture and even speech patterns of the 1940s to ensure that the WW II Rangers spoke and acted like people from that era.
Q. What kind of research did you do to be able to so successfully create speech patterns and slang used by WWII soldiers?
I watched a number of late ‘30s and early ‘40s motion pictures, not only about the War but the kind of popular films that the soldiers would have watched in high school and after joining the Army. People in those days mimicked slang and even behavior from movies. For example, here’s an excerpt from TIME FALL:
“Sutton felt the four privates watching him, waiting for that nebulous thing called leadership that gave him the right to wear silver bars on his shoulders and send trusting men to their deaths. He suddenly felt old beyond his twenty-four years, weary and homesick. Did all officers feel this way or just him? He squared his shoulders, resorting to a leadership technique taught by one of his OCS instructors – imitating movie tough guys like Jimmy Cagney or George Raft.”
Q. Some authors say that they must become “actors” in order to fully inhabit their characters. Was that true for you? How did it “feel” different to you when you wrote a 1945 character, and when you wrote a modern-day character?
I did indeed feel like I was becoming an “actor” in order to fully inhabit both the characters from the past as well as the present. I got to the point where I was even dreaming about being a soldier in the European Theater during WW II. The old German Luftwaffe veteran was a challenge as was the primary villain (who had been a Hitler Youth member during the War and remained an unreconstructed Nazi). I had to put myself in the shoes of Germans who had lived during the Nazi era and fought against the Allies, but portray one as a good man with high ideals, and the other one as a bad man but nonetheless complex because he had been “socialized” by the Nazis from the time he was a child.
Q. Where did you get the idea of having WWII soldiers still fighting their war in 2011?
When I was a student at the University of Southern California, one of my older classmates was a Viet Nam veteran. He told me a true story about the mysterious disappearance of a helicopter when it flew into a strange cloud during a routine mission with other choppers. He told me that he wondered if the aircraft and its passengers had simply disappeared into another time caused by unusual atmospheric conditions. This incident – as well as other strange disappearances over the years, including those taking place in the “Bermuda Triangle,” gave me the idea for the premise of TIME FALL.
TIME FALL by Timothy Ashby
June, 2013 Author Planet Press
***Filled with historically accurate details, Time Fall is a complex military tale that keeps readers riveted through every surprising twist. Read an excerpt and to enter to win a FREE copy of Time Fall, visit http://www.timefallbook.com/. For your copy, visit http://amzn.to/190ZMwe. You can also get your copy at all major book retailers.
About Tim Ashby: Timothy Ashby’s life has been as thrilling as one of his action/adventure novels. Visit his author blog at www.timashby.com.
An international lawyer, businessman and writer, Tim Ashby worked in Washington DC as a counter-terrorism consultant to the U.S. State Department, and then as a senior official – the youngest political appointee of his rank – at the U.S. Commerce Department, responsible for commercial relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. He held two Top Secret security clearances and worked with a number of colorful characters, including members of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He has lived in the Caribbean and Europe as well as various places in the United States. An avid historian, he published widely on military history, archaeology, business and international relations. A licensed attorney in Florida and the District of Columbia, Tim Ashby has a PhD degree from the University of Southern California, a JD from Seattle University Law School, and an MBA from the University of Edinburgh Scotland.