Author Interview: D.L.Orton (Crossing in Time)

Between Two Evils Book covers

“Crossing in Time” is the first book in the “Between Two Evils” series by D.L.Orton.

crossing in time

One of the many features which sets “Crossing in Time” up on its pedestal is how it draws on Deb’s immense knowledge of science fiction. CIT has a feast of juicy time travel ideas, scientific concepts and gadgetry; Deb clearly knows her stuff – and I think we’re educated along the way too! Oh yes – and subjected to witty humour all the way through!

Author D.L.Orton (Crossing in Time)

In this interview author Deb shares her thoughts on her writing process, inspiration, relationships and molluscs – as well as describing how she added a ‘special ingredient’ to her novel! This is a great insight into the great lady behind “Crossing in Time”!

Deb, many many thanks for giving us some of your time!

I must admit that my first impression of Crossing in Time is wholly superficial, BUT…I loved how you’ve given graphics as headers to each chapter! Why did you decide to do this instead of the more usual fancy (i.e. illegible) first letter?

Deb: I’m a serious Harry Potter fan (although a muggle, I’m sorry to admit), and I love the drawings that J.K. Rowling puts at the top of her chapters. They are whimsical and cartoonish but give you a hint of what’s to come. So I copied her idea. (Now if I could just copy her success ;)). My illustrator, Micah McDonald, got an early edition of the book and came up with the illustrations on his own. I had a great time going through the story elements that grabbed his attention and coming up with chapter titles to fit.

DL Orton uses illustrated chapter headings

(By the way, you’re the only one who’s commented on them, Paul, so thank you! One of the most rewarding parts of writing a book is finding a reader who appreciates (and “gets”) the wordplay (illustration-play?), hidden meanings, and outside references. High five!)

The first person point of view changes through the novel between 3 characters who are very different from each other. Did you find it difficult to switch your writing style from one character to another, or even face difficulties in deciding from which character to base the point of view on?

Isabel: There were times when I wasn’t sure I wanted to trust a writer with my life, but D.L. Orton cares about the same things I do, so I mostly just let the story unfold. In the end, I wasn’t keen on some of the scarier scenes (and I’m still sad about that poor dog), but the author assures me that everything will work out in the end. Right, Diego?

Diego: Mierda, it’s always a challenge to figure out what a woman is thinking—let alone what they’re going to do next—but I gave it my best shot. When you love someone the way I love Iz, you find a way to make it work—or die trying. (And I’m not big on dying.) I believe that beneath our differences—our languages, religions, and politics—people are all looking for that one person who gives their life meaning, that one heart that beats in time with their own, and I’m no different. I may not always agree with the author on the best way to handle the situation, but I try to play the cards I’m dealt to the best of my ability. And BTW, I’m still waiting for my royal flush.

Matt: Bloody hell. I’d love to say that being in a book was a doddle, but those damn Americans can’t even make a decent cuppa tea. Imagine being asked to trust one with your black British nature? I expected things to go pear-shaped straight away, but so far, Bob’s your uncle—and the author does let me fly a plane occasionally. Besides, math and science are the universal language, and once I get that sodding time machine working, things will be tickety-boo. In the mean time, could someone from the future send back some tea and biscuits?

There’s a wonderful humourous backdrop against the scifi which makes Crossing in Time a fun read – but at the same time it doesn’t downgrade the scientific quality. Are scientists particularly funny, or do you see of humour in everything?

Inkblot test - are scientists funny in the head?
Are scientists funny in the head?


A psychoanalyst shows a patient an inkblot, and asks him what he sees.

“A man and woman making love,” the patient replies.

“And this?” The psychoanalyst shows the guy another inkblot.

“That’s also a man and woman making love.”

The doctor holds up a third inkblot and raises an eyebrow.

“Well,” says the patient, shifting in his chair , “it’s another man and woman making love.”

The psychoanalyst gives a disapproving huff. “You are obsessed with sex.”

“What do you mean I’m obsessed?” the guy says. “You’re the one with all the dirty pictures.”

It’s clear that you’ve got a solid background in both science and science fiction. Were these already in place before you started writing Crossing in Time?

Deb: My parents were public school teachers who thought watching TV was a waste of brainpower, so I grew up without one. I imagine that explains pretty much everything. (I still don’t watch TV, but man am I addicted to the science channels on YouTube: SciShow, Physics Girl, Space-Time, VSauce, Veritasium, Minute Physics — just to name a few. I think I’m making up for lost time.)

Your presentation of time travel and multi-universes is absolutely brilliant! A gentle layering of experimental results – positive and (sometimes gruesomely) negative – gradually builds into a detailed yet uncertain picture of time travel mechanics complete with potential solutions (and glaring warnings) for time travel paradoxes. How on Earth (or at least on one version of it did you get your inspiration?

Deb: I peeked.

There’s a feast of scifi ideas introduced early on in Crossing in Time, but at the same time I love to hate the details you give regarding the insane prevalence of bureaucracy and red tape. Did experience play any role in these angles?

Deb: Nope. In my universe the government is a model of efficiency, benevolence, & foresight. Did I mention I write fiction?

A large section of the novel is given over to the physical side of the relationship between Isabelle and Diego. Scifi, humour and erotica is an extraordinary mix which makes Crossing in Time really stand out from other novels. Was this a deliberate choice, or did it just come like this as you wrote the novel?


Deb: I wrote the book I wanted to read: a hard sci-fi, action, suspense, mystery, character-driven, funny, poignant, edgy, tight, love story. If you like challenges, try picking just one genre for it.

One of the parts of Crossing in Time I particularly enjoyed is where Isabelle meets Diego in the past and gives him ‘training’ in how to deal with the past version of herself. I imagine this might set up a causal loop, in which case there’s a certain sense of destiny. There’s also an idea that there isn’t the perfect soulmate, but that we can lean from each other and adapt / accept. Where do you stand when it comes to finding (and keeping) life partners?

Deb: People who are in a compelling, fulfilling, and enduring interpersonal relationship don’t blow up train stations, shoot up churches, attack nightclubs, invade countries, build expensive walls, or deny others their basic human rights. (Maybe they forget to put their dishes in the dishwasher every now and then, but I can live with that.)

Your bio tells us that you have a dog, two cats and…a triops! Is this a way of side-stepping the “dog-person” or “cat-person” question?

Deb: I’m an “animal” person. I spent two years working with dolphins, have trained horses, and once taught a pigeon to bowl (as in knocking down pins with a ball.) Animals enrich our lives, teach us about ourselves, and love us unconditionally. I hope we figure out a way to save their planet.

Which would you rather face – a tricerotops on a tricycle or a mollusc on a molar?

Deb: Did either of them read my book??

You’re building a time machine built so that “someone can go back and do the laundry.” What are you wearing in your time machine?

Deb: A smile. (After all, I know what’s wrong with the targeting…)

The second book in the “Between Two Evils” series, “Lost Time”, is due to be released on July 1st 2016. Are you able tell us a bit about it (without spoilers!)?

Deb: Writing a book series with multiple timelines—not to mention multiple versions of the main characters in different universes (oh my!)—is both challenging and fun, but it is also (by its nature) non-linear. That makes deciding what book to write next a challenge, and I know that no matter whose story I choose, some fans will be disappointed (and restless!)

Lost Time by DL Orton

I’m hoping that in book two you will enjoy meeting Shannon, finding out more about Lani, and seeing a different side of Dave. To those of you who were longing to hear about Tego (he’s got his work cut out for him), I ask for your patience. I will get back to Tego’s story in book four, and I promise you, it will be worth the wait.

Here’s the blurb for Lost Time (available now: Diego arrives in a grim alternate future where the human race ekes out a desperate existence inside aging biodomes. Can he locate the time machine and get back to Iz? First, he has to figure out how he ended up in a pine tree—buck naked and still carrying that damn seashell…

And here’s what I have planned:

Down Time: Between Two Evils Book Three where Diego fights to get back to Iz… (coming Winter 2016).

Given Time: Between Two Evils Book Four where Tego searches for Isabel & finds someone else… (coming Spring 2017).

Out of Time: Between Two Evils Book Five where Tego struggles to hold onto his love & his life… (coming Winter 2017).

I also have a hard sci-fi story (“The Last Star”) in an anthology, UnCommon Origins, that came out June 15th.


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D. L. Orton’s “Crossing in Time” is available from in paperback and ebook formats. Keep an eye out for those illustrated chapter headings! 🙂

Review: Crossing in Time by D. L. Orton


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