Rowan Coleman looks at time travel and being brave in her novel, The Summer of Impossible Things.
1. Can you tell us more about your latest book, The Summer of Impossible Things?
It’s the story of Luna, who returns to Brooklyn soon after the death of her mother. She soon discovers that she seems to be able to travel back in time to July 1977, the days before something so terrible happened to her mother as a young woman that it ruined her life and lead to her suicide 30 years later. Luna believes she has a chance to save her mother, but if she does will she sacrifice her own existence?
2. Why did you decide to write about time travel?
It’s an idea that has always fascinated me, from a childhood devoted to Doctor Who (and an adulthood) and a love of movies like Back to the Future, Looper and Groundhog Day. I often write about ordinary women facing extraordinary times, and what could be more extraordinary than being able to move through time? It was an idea I couldn’t resist. Plus Disco.
3. Did you do any specific research for the book?
Yes, a lot. I read a lot about quantum physics, and astrophysics – I wanted Luna to be a scientist and I wanted to try and make the idea of time travel seem credible. I spent time in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Walking the locations in the novel, talking to people and hearing their stories. I also listened to the voices, accents and speech patterns of Brooklyn inhabitants in the 70s in all sorts of ways.
4. Where did you get the inspiration for the character of Luna?
Luna just arrived, almost fully formed, she is made up of curiosity, reserves, caution, but above all Courage. I think Luna is the bravest character I’ve ever written.
5. Do you have a set daily writing routine?
I try to, but it doesn’t always work out that way! Most days I’m at my desk at 11, and I usually finish around 6 unless I’m on a deadline.
6. What message do you want readers to take away from your novels?
I think there’s a running theme in my work, that says you are the hero of your own story, you are greater, stronger, more amazing than you know. And In Impossible Things the there is very clear, Be Brave.
7. What’s one of the most exciting things that has happened to you since you became a writer?
One of the most exciting things is happening now, but can’t talk about that! Next would be meeting Richard and Judy and also working with Cara Delevingne on her debut novel, she is wonderful!
8. Do you see yourself in any of the characters in your novels?
I think I’m in all of them to a certain extent. I get to be the kind of person I aspire to be when I write these amazingly brave and strong women. I passionately believe in the power of the individual to make a difference in this world we live in. A million small acts of love and kindness are our best defence against the dark.
9. What novels have you recently read that you’d like to recommend to other book fans out there?
I’ve recent read Trust Me by Angela Clarke, No Filter by Orlagh Collins and Falling by Julie Cohen. All totally different, all brilliant.
10. Can you tell us a bit about your plans for the future?
Writing, writing, writing! At the moment I have three ideas I’m keen to develop but first I’m finishing my next novel – I can’t tell you more about it yet!
If you could change the past, would you?
It is only after her mother’s death that Luna discovers the secrets she has been hiding for thirty years.
Now she and her sister must travel to their mother’s childhood home and settle her affairs. But in Brooklyn something impossible happens to Luna. She finds herself in 1977, face to face with her mother as a young woman, in the week that changed her life forever.
But if time can be turned back, can it also be rewritten? Luna is convinced she can save her mother from the moment that will eventually drive her to suicide. But in doing anything – everything – to save her mother’s life, will she have to sacrifice her own?
Rowan Coleman lives with her husband, and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family. She really wishes someone would invent time travel.