Tour Schedule and Assignments
July 25--Reading Is My SuperPower (10 behind the scenes facts about the book, Book spotlight post) | Katie's Clean Book Collection (Snippet from a chapter in the book, Book spotlight post)
July 26--Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance (Review, Snippet from a chapter in the book) | Zerina Blossom's Books (10 behind the scenes facts about the book)
July 27--Christy's Cozy Corners (Review) | Bukwurmzzz (Review)
July 28--Mel's Shelves (Review, Snippet from a chapter in the book)
July 29--26 Countless Possibilities (Review)
July 30--Singing Librarian Books (Review, Author Interview (SLB Tours asks the questions), Authors top 10 favorites, 10 behind the scenes facts about the book, Snippet from a chapter in the book)
The Time Key Tour Kit HTML Code you can modify for your post.
Melanie Bateman was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and moved to the United States at age nine. She has an associate’s degree in fine art from Utah Valley University, emphasizing in illustration. From a very young age she’s had a passion for drawing, specifically nature and the human figure. It is from this creative look on the world that she began to write stories.
(Insert interview here or include the interview via SLB Tours below.)
1. How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you?
It’s hard for me to get used to the idea of being an author when my passion has always been illustration, but I think it was in high school, after reading the Inkheart trilogy, that I decided I could do both if I tried really really hard. Looking at Funke’s illustrations at the end of each chapter gave me a different experience from the story, and it solidified my idea that pictures could tell their own story. I hope that The Time Key will give readers what Inkheart inspired in me.
2. What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
I’m starting the research stage of a story I’ve wanted to tell since high school. There are a lot of doodles, but no solid storyline yet. I will say it follows a minor character in The Time Key and a lot of it takes place during a similar version of our own World War I.
3. What does your writing process look like?
It looks like a jumble of scattered notes and papers everywhere. Honestly, I have no organized process. If I have an idea I will write it down wherever I can (I have a few Walmart receipts filled with notes). I usually keep a notebook or a sketchbook with me so that I can jot down whatever pops into my head. Generally, I start toying with an idea and try to build a story from it, all the while I research. I will read everything I can about the subject to feel comfortable about the time period and setting so that the prose feels authentic. When I have a good feel for the characters I will jump right into the story, and at this point not a lot of editing goes on until I finish, which allows me to be as creative as possible. A lot of this beginning process will include thumbnail sketches of what I want the characters to look like, how they interact with each other. Very similar to what you would see in the process of making an animated movie. Doodling helps me brainstorm and reach deeper into my imagination.
4. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
If you are really into time-traveling, I highly recommend 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It was a long read, but so worth it. I also enjoy Markus Zusak and Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
5. What period of history interests you the most?
I really love the early 20th century. As an artist, I love studying the art movements evolving during the first half of the century, and as a reader there is something I find refreshing in a lot of books that came out of that time period. A lot of cultural changes were happening all around the world during this time, which I find fascinating.
6. What inspired the idea for your idea for The Time Key?
A lot of ideas over the years went into writing The Time Key, but it really all came together just before my daughter turned one. My husband and I were having a discussion and he mentioned that if anything ever happened to our daughter and me he would probably turn into a miserable drunk. That’s when Stanley came to life for me, and the rest of the plot just came along as I wrote.
7. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Besides sketching, I love fishing and hiking, or anything outdoorsy with my little family.
Favorite book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Favorite soda: Malta polar (Venezuelan malt drink. To die for!)
Favorite dessert: Tres Leches Cake
Favorite flower: Roses
Favorite season: Autumn
Favorite movie: To laugh: Hot Rod, always. To laugh and cry: Life is Beautiful.
Favorite country you want to visit: Italy
Favorite comic book character: Batman
Favorite place to visit: St. George, Utah with family.
Favorite holiday: Christmas
I could go on and on about the ideas that brought The Time Key to life, but I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers here!
1. The actual Time Key I designed after a timepiece necklace that my husband gave me as a gift our first year of marriage. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of time travel, and that necklace was the first spark for me to really consider writing a story.
2. To keep the story respectful, the Roma Travelers are called just by that name in The Time Key, despite the research I did about real people living in Andalucía, Spain referring to themselves as gitanos. I have a great admiration for the culture, and some of the scenes included were inspired by this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scus9teTdjo).
3. I chose the year 1897 as a reference to Henry James’ publication of What Maisie Knew that same year, as I borrowed the name for one of my characters. It’s a sad story, but so is Maisie’s.
4. Lena’s name, an unexpected character in The Time Key, was borrowed from H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. The time traveler in that book has a little helper called Weena, and I thought a similar name would suit my own character.
5. I read a lot of Victorian literature while preparing to write The Time Key. When I kept returning to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I decided to research his life. A lot of his beliefs reflected those of a lot of people at the time. I found that it was a time of massive progress, but in general people were still widely superstitious. Spiritualism was becoming popular at this point as well. Then I ran into the story of the Cottingley Fairies and read that the author readily believed that the photographed fairies were authentic. I had been toying with the idea of including fantasy elements in the story, and with my findings I wanted to bring that same innocent belief into The Time Key.
6. On that same note, Russell Gilmore was loosely based on how I saw Doyle. A physician, a tall man with a mustache, and a spiritualist, which might explain why he’s so accepting of all the mystical events and creatures in the story.
7. I throw in a few minor details that hint at other versions of our world. The “yo-yo” wasn’t called by that name until 1920’s in America when immigrant Pedro Flores started selling the toy under that name. So, where did Stanley hear “yo-yo” in 1897 England? He probably heard it from a traveling observer just passing by (you will get this reference in the book).
8. In this version of Kingston-upon-Thames, the market exists, same as ours, but the monument is different. The illustration is based on the Greek Goddess of war, on whom I based the goddess in this story. There’s a lot more lore to it, but that would be a spoiler!
9. While I searched for pictures about the WWII London Blitz in 1940, I saw that the area of Kingston had been affected by the bombings. The scene where Stanley sees a burning cathedral in ruins was one of the first scenes I wrote, which was based on that picture.
10. The idea of Rosie/Sibyl came to me as I was outlining the plot. I needed a “fixer” in a time traveling story, someone who knew secrets that Stanley needed to learn. Rosie’s abilities came together after I read The Time Traveler’s Wife, in which the main character has a similar “condition” to Rosie.
There couldn’t be a better time to begin Stanley Becker’s story than at the moment he stood on the frozen stone wall of Kingston Bridge overlooking the river Thames, breathing in the winter night and pressing the icy metal barrel of a pistol to his jaw.
I have often wondered where it would be most appropriate to begin. A few other moments come to mind, but despite the significance they play, I choose to begin Stanley Becker’s story at the approaching end of his life.
Before he found himself standing on the bridge, Stanley hadn’t contemplated what the best approach to ending his life would be, but he had assumed that a bullet to his head would be the quickest. What did he know about suicide? All he knew was that it would be rather unfortunate if he missed.
Through his misty breath, he looked down at the black waters that seemed so calm and knew it would be the perfect resting place for his worn-down body. The moment he blew his brains out, his corpse would crash down into the dark waters and conceal him from the world he was so determined to leave. Few things could be more poetic. Stanley Becker smiled. Soon he would see Jane again, holding little Maisie’s hand and grinning, just as the last time he had seen them alive.
Although Stanley Becker was about to take his life on this particular night, his thoughts lingered elsewhere, remembering the tragic event that had taken his entire reason to live. He remembered it quite vividly. Six years ago, Stanley had refused to attend the opera despite Jane’s pleading. He had stayed home to write a story that he would never finish. Unbeknownst to him then, on the same bridge where he now stood, his wife and daughter had lain sprawled in the crimson-stained snow, lifeless.
Perhaps the fact that Mr. Miller had not driven that night, but one of the drivers employed by Jane’s father, could have been the single event that sealed his family’s fate. There were other incidents that only I had been able to see as I revisited the night when everything changed, and although unclear, they nevertheless deserve some mention. Perhaps the cause had been that Jane’s father had insisted on sending his own driver, that the driver himself had had a drink too many and had failed to see the incoming collision. Or, possibly, that a street cat had darted across the street and consequently startled the horse of a carriage whose driver had had recent late nights looking for a runaway daughter, losing control only moments before the accident.
I only observed the minor events of that night, but the matter of life and death could have been the result of numerous decisions by unknowing players and (as Stanley’s mother always told him) could not have been stopped and can never be changed. I can’t help but feel sympathetic when I am reminded of this truth, however insignificant it renders us, but it would be a long time before Stanley understood the fragility of our human existence, and how crucial our resolve to ignore such realities impacts the way we play our set role.
As he presently stood on the bridge, yearning for the end to come, Stanley was comforted by the thought that he would no longer need to worry about what he could have done differently. Soon, the long, numbing, excruciating life he had led for six years would be over. He was ready for whatever awaited him in the next life, if there was any- thing waiting for him at all.
The pistol felt heavy and the cold embraced him. He wondered if attempting a suicide could be any less pleasant. As Stanley passed a hand over his eyes, he steadied himself for the big moment. The barrel pressing on his jaw was aimed straight to his brain. For a split second he wondered if it would hurt.
His gloved hand gripped the gun. His finger touched the trigger. Stanley Becker held his breath and felt the end draw near. He squeezed the trigger.
(Insert review with FTC disclosure here.)
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July 25--Reading Is My SuperPower | Katie's Clean Book Collection
July 26--Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance | Zerina Blossom's Books
July 27--Christy's Cozy Corners | Bukwurmzzz
July 28--Mel's Shelves
July 29--26 Countless Possibilities
July 30--Singing Librarian Book
SLB Tour Kits will be posted here by the Friday before the tour begins.