Author Jennifer Macaire is the mastermind behind the time travel / historical fiction series Time For Alexander. The first book, The Road to Alexander, had me laughing out loud in the train (the comedy is superb!) and infatuated with main character Ashley.
The publisher, Accent Press Books, describes her Time for Alexander series as:
The year is 2089, and time-travelling journalist Ashley Riveraine gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview her childhood hero, Alexander the Great. She expects to come out with an award-winning article, but doesn’t count on Fate intervening.
Let’s rewrite history, or at least the above…
The year is 2019, and time-travel enthusiast Paul Wandason gets a once in a lifetime opportunity to interview Jennifer Macaire. He expects to gain an award-winning article and an insight into the mind of the author behind “The Road to Alexander” (amongst other novels) but doesn’t count on King Kong, banana skins, the Eiffel Tower and other disruptions to his thought process intervening.
He does his best though…
Hi Jennifer! I’ll get the obvious question out of the way first. In your blog post Gone Fishing you mention that your son is named Alex. Was Alex the Great grandson (from your grandparents’ point of view) named after Alexander the Great?
Jennifer: Hi Paul – no, Alex wasn’t named after anyone in particular. At the time, when he was born, we were in a panic because he was so premature. He and his twin were born 3 months premature, and were very, very fragile. The nurse came into my room with the birth certificate so we could name them right away. I hadn’t had time to think of names – my husband and I had only agreed on one : Sebastian. The other name hadn’t been chosen. I closed my eyes and thought I’d go down the alphabet. «A, Alexander,» I said. And that’s how it happened.
Ashley chooses the name “Paul” for her son. As my parents would agree, this is obviously a great name too! 🙂 Who would you say I was named after?
Jennifer: Paul is a lovely, strong name. If the alphabet started with the letter P, my son would probably have been a Paul as well! Perhaps your parents named you after Paul Bunyan, the famous woodcutter? (tongue firmly in cheek here, lol).
(Paul checks the facts: Paul Bunyan’s exploits revolve around the tall tales of his superhuman labours, including, in juvenile accounts, the sinking of pirate ships. Source: Wikipedia).
Paul: Thanks Jennifer, I’ll take that! 🙂
You create a rich background for many of the secondary characters in your novel. One of them is Cxious. How do you pronounce that?
Jennifer: I believe it’s «Sue». Everyone looks at his name and says different things. Seus, Ksew, Crew…
Paul: You’ve got me humming Johnny Cash…
The Road to Alexander is “historical fiction”. I was surprised at quite a number of things I read which I assumed to be historical fact. A writer cutting his teeth so he could bite reeds into better writing implements, for example. Are these things all true? How did you find the balance between making your own stuff up and using the existing crazy historical stuff?
Jennifer: I researched a lot, and found that scribes used their teeth to sharpen their reeds, especially in cultures where metal was rare. The usure on the teeth would eventually dull the edge, so I just thought it might be possible they filed their teeth to cut better. Who knows? We should invent a time machine and go verify all this stuff, don’t you think? Lol!
You mention in your notes at end of the novel that the time travel provides the fictional element of this “historical fiction”. Would you like to see time travel move out of the realms of fiction and more into reality? How would you see this happening?
Jennifer: There are serious studies about time – and I’m sure that one day we’ll be able to time travel. The theory is the faster we go, the slower time goes, and if we can go faster than the speed of light, we’ll move backwards in time.
The Road to Alexander starts with a prologue with a certain magical feel to it, and likewise, the closing scenes are almost poetic. In the prologue Ashley says that she’ll die in history but since she’ll be born again in the future she’s looking forward to meeting Alexander again. This hints at the idea that Ashley will keep her memories in her rebirth. Is this a fair assumption?
Jennifer: I haven’t thought that through, but I think not – she has to make the same mistakes in order to reach the same destination. I was watching the last Avengers movies thinking the producers must have been reading a lot of time travel fiction. There are some rules that can’t be broken.
The humour cracked me up and had me laughing out loud in the train! 🙂 First class humour in a second class seat. Who am I kidding? I was standing up for most of the journey. Did you write this as a comedy novel, or did the humour ooze out of your / Ashley’s character?
Jennifer: My family says I have no sense of humor and can’t tell the simplest joke without completely ruining it. But I see funny things in everyday happenings, and for some reason my books are really funny. Have no idea how it happens.;-)
When I think of humour and entertainment I never think of my French lessons at school. My French teacher told me that French without accents was like onion soup without onions. As someone who hates onions I wasn’t motivated to learn French, or at least use accents. Hence I ended up in the Netherlands where there are no accents over the letters (but there are still plenty of onions 🙁 ). Does your experience of life as an expat in France help you in living in Ashley’s shoes in Greece?
Jennifer: Being a stranger in a strange land is something I’m very familiar with. My family moved around so much when I was young that I never spent more than 2 years in one place! I was constantly changing houses, schools, and finding new friends. I did use some of that for Ashley – but mostly I think it helps me in all my books about time travel – the main character who is always on the outside looking in is part of who I am.
The Road to Alexander started as a short story and ended up as 7 full length novels. I see from your website that you’ve published many other short stories. What is it about The Road to Alexander that compelled you to keep writing?
Jennifer: I had to finish the story – it just kept going on, and the characters took over. Plus I was in between jobs, I was a stay-at-home mom raising small children, so it kept me busy.
You’ve written loads of short stories, books loads of subjects, loads of blogs- where do you find your time to write?
Jennifer: I think I write quickly. When I have an idea, I sit down and write. I find I can concentrate on one thing very easily, and I’ve always taken my father’s advice to heart – he used to tell me, if you start something, finish it. I try, I really try.
If you have any, what do you do in your free time?
Jennifer: I love to read, to go for walks, to draw and paint, and play golf. Otherwise my favorite sport is swimming. When I’m in the water, I feel at home.
You told me that you have some more time travel books in the pipeline. Can you tell us something about them?
Jennifer: In January « A Crown in Time » will be published by Accent Press. It’s not a series, although it’s loosely tied in to my time travel books because the starting point is always Tempus U, the Time Travel Institute. This time, a woman is sent back to save the crown of France. She’s a criminal, and her punishment (and redemption) is to be sent back in time forever. She can never come home and she knows it. But if she succeeds, her records will be expunged and she will be a hero. Her mission is to stop a young man from joining the ill-fated 8th Crusade – but she fails, and has to accompany him, to try to keep him alive. It’s darker than the Alexander series, but also more compact. It’s a stand alone story – and I loved researching and writing it.
After that, there is a story about a women scientist sent back to the Paleolithic time – she will meet saber-tooth tigers and dire wolves – how cool is that? That book is due out August 2020, but it has no title yet. Any suggestions are welcome!
If you could fly, would you prefer to have wings like an angel, or fly wingless like supergirl?
Jennifer: Wingless – because for lift, my wings would have to be enormous and I couldn’t fit into any of my rooms, lol.
What would you say to your doppelganger?
Jennifer: Stay out of the sun – you have far too many freckles. And stand up straight – stop slouching!
My physics teacher once posed this question: “The Eiffel Tower is 312 m high. If a boy slipped on a banana skin at the top and fell off, how long would it take for him to hit the bottom?” Is this proof that King Kong visited France before climbing the Empire State Building?
Jennifer: I was busy imagining a tourist peeling a banana as he rode up the elevator, munching it as he admired the view, then tossing the peel on the ground before he went back down. Poor Billy was in such a hurry to see the sights he didn’t look where he was going…I think King Kong caught him though as he fell, so there is a happy ending.
You can catch up with Jennifer Macaire on her blogs Jennifer Macaire and author Jennifer Macaire, on Goodreads, like her on Facebook and follow her Twitter (@jennifermacaire).
Many thanks for your time, Jennifer, for this interview, and also for writing your novels! 🙂 Good luck with A Crown in Time! 🙂
Bunyan Wandason 😉
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Fabulous interview Paul. Jennifer’s books sound great.
Very entertaining interview. I especially liked hearing about some of the thinking that went in to her decisions in the novel.
thank you for the interview – it was great fun 🙂