In your story, “My Wife Hates Time Travel,” the husband and his wife discover how inconvenient it can be to know that something will happen in the future, but they may or may not be able to prevent it. This opens the gate to the debate over fate and predestination, but also choice. Do you believe that it would be better to know your future or to be surprised?
I think a little uncertainty goes a long way, and would appreciate a little reassurance that everything’s going to be all right, but having your hands held every step of the way takes the joy out of everything.
Throughout the story, you don’t give names to the main characters, but instead simply refer to them as husband and wife. Why did you decide to give them this anonymity?
Who says I decided? Every once in a while a story dictates its own form. This one takes the form of an extended complaint about an impossible situation, and I felt no moment where the introduction of names felt natural or needed.
As the husband and wife are warned ahead of time of movies to avoid, books to skip, restaurants to pass on, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how much our “choices” are becoming more and more tailored to us—Amazon recommendations, Google Ads, TV programming, etc. If this continues, do you see this as something to embrace or be wary of?
I do wish people paid less attention to the latest list of blockbusters—which is often by design that which offends the tastes of the smallest number of people—and devoted more effort to authors, movies, and music less targeted at the vast monolithic public. There’s really a lot of great stuff out there, and if you complain, for instance, that the latest megabudget Hollywood bomb insulted your intelligence, but won’t cross the street to see a smaller but potentially more interesting indie, then you only have yourself to blame. Seek out that which isn’t aggressively sold, and you will find yourself frequently surprised. So, yeah, I’m wary of mass marketing . . . while simultaneously being an author who depends on it.
Disguised beneath this cautionary tale is, at its core, a love letter. Was this intended from the beginning or did it evolve as the story unfolded?
It was always a love letter, on some level. My wife is the wife of the title. She’s as big a science fiction fan as I am, but has always been driven to distraction by time-travel stories, and complains bitterly about paradoxes in particular. (This despite a special love for Doctor Who: she is large, and contains multitudes.) I began writing the story when she told me one too many times that she hated time travel. She meant the sub-genre. I wondered what it would be like if the same complaint was directed at the actuality.
Of course there is the Elephant In The Room Question: If you somehow learned that you would be the inventor of time travel (if you took the path to lead to it) would you want that responsibility?
If I could ensure that I was the only one with access to the tech, sure. I’d zip all over the place. I’d custard-pie Hitler, and all that fun stuff. But never in a million years would I want it to be technology that people, as a group, could have. It’s doomsday weaponry.
Finally, do you have any new projects you’d like to announce?
Oh, absolutely. Folks, go over to the children’s section of your local bookstores and check out Gustav Gloom and the People Taker, first in an extended series of middle-grade novels about the uncanny adventures of a very strange young boy raised by a society of sentient shadows. Four books in the series are already written, and more are coming; they are epically funny, world-spanning spookiness complete with dire mysteries, uncanny revelations, vicious bad guys, surreal locations, hairs-breadth escapes, ravenous monsters, shadows out of time, and bottomless pits. The first book will be out by the time you read these words . . . and the second, Gustav Gloom and the Nightmare Vault, will be out early next year.