We are shining the spotlight on time travel romances all week long here on the RT site. And we knew that our final author interview would have to be with Louise Marley. This author's new paranormal romance won rave reviews from RT reviewer Mandy Boles who said of The Brahms Deception, "Marley’s knack for combining historical intrigue and romance will keep readers with a love for books like Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife and A.S. Byatt’s Possession on the edge of their seats." The author has made a name for herself with her futuristic tales and strong heroines, so we were intrigued to find out what inspired this very different story, and get her take on why historical fans will want to check out this romance with a paranormal twist!
Why did you decide to write a time travel romance? What is it about your character being out of time and place that appeals to you?
There's something mystical and enchanting about the past, the times that are gone and yet are still present in our minds and hearts. It's Einsteinian, in a way, the idea that all of time continues to exist even though we don't yet know how to see it. It seems to me that many of us who read historical fiction do so because we want to taste what it was like for our forebears, to have an idea how it felt to wear those clothes, eat different foods, travel in different conveyances, and live under a different societal structure. It's a journey, in the same way that we journey to other countries to see what they're like, to meet their people, to taste the flavor of a different place.
In the case of this book, I was fascinated by the compelling mystery around Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann, and the best way to investigate it was to send someone back in time to meet them. They were both brilliant and beautiful and tragic, and their story has always drawn me.
After so many well-known romance authors tackling time travel plots, did you feel at all intimidated before even beginning? And who are the authors that inspire you when writing? I'm always inspired by other authors! I don't feel intimidated, but I am often deeply impressed. Lately, for example, I've been reading Megan Chance, who does beautiful historical research and creates unforgettable characters. Like Chance, who wrote An Inconvenient Wife, the position of women in society in the eighteenth and nineteenth century is of special interest to me.
My personal inspiration, actually, comes from my first career. I was a classical musician (an opera singer, of all things!) and the musical figures of the past have special meaning to me. I've loved studying and writing about Mozart, Brahms, and currently, Giacomo Puccini.
For The Brahms Deception you choose to focus on a real historical figure —Johannes Brahms the famous musician. This was a risky decision, after all there are many biographies of his life and he is so easily Googled. What made you choose the musician as an integral character in your story?
There are many biographies, and I think I've read them all! :-) It's important to me, when writing historical fiction, to work within what we believe to be true about historical figures and events. The genre of alternate history doesn't interest me, and so I take care to create a fictional story that could be true, that could have happened. I often find, later, that some bit of historical research supports my creation, such as the time I read that bones were found under Benjamin Franklin's London home (I wrote about him in The Glass Harmonica). With The Brahms Deception, I chose a time when neither Brahms nor Schumann had public appearances, as far as we know, so they could have been where I placed them. That's the challenge and the fun of writing about historical figures!
How closely to actual history did you stick to when you were writing your story?
We know quite a bit about both Brahms and Clara Schumann. It wasn't difficult to use facts in telling their story. We have photographs and letters and diaries, and of course, we have their music and the dedications they inscribed on their manuscripts. The great thing about historical fiction is that a reader can learn a lot about a historical figure without simply reading dates and places and dry facts. In good historical fiction the people of the past come alive. They live and breathe and have feelings. It's like meeting them in person, getting to know and understand them. It's not necessary to change history to make that happen.
For historical romance readers that might not read books with paranormal or supernatural elements, what would you say to get them to try a time travel tale? What makes your story, specifically, right for all different types of readers?
In The Brahms Deception, time travel is simply the device used to put interesting characters together. Although my particular form of time travel is science fictional, the process itself is secondary; it's the characters who matter, and it's their interactions—both in the present day and in the past--that are at the heart of the story. I love the idea that a young man from the future is fascinated by a beautiful and tragic woman who was dead a long time before he was born, someone he could never hope to meet—except through the device of time travel. I can't think of anything more romantic!
And finally, we've got to ask, for your own time travel adventure, where would you want to go?
There are so many periods that fascinate me! I'd love to be in the court of Eleanor of Aquitaine, in the twelfth century; I'm fascinated by the period just after World War I; in between, I'm fascinated by Mozart's era, in the eighteenth century, or the Victorian period in Europe in the middle of the nineteenth. You can see that my choices would cover a wide span of time. One of the reasons I love writing historical fiction is that I can, at least in my imagination, visit colorful places and amazing times, and get to know the people who lived there.
Louise's answer of how historically accurate her time travel romances is really got the RT web team chatting, as each member of prefers a different level of historical detail. Said Morgan, "As long as a great romance is there, I don't mind certain inaccuracies. After all, we are talking time travel here." While Whitney, our history buff, likes hers "as historically correct as possible, please." However, Elisa sides with Morgan and states proudly, "the great thing about time travel fiction is you can change the past!"
We want to know how historically accurate you like your historical time travel romances to be! Let us know in the comments below. To find out the results of Tuesday's poll, "which historical figure you'd like to go on a date with?", and to add your own thoughts, click here. You can also add your thought's to Monday's reader poll, "what historical destination would you like to travel to?", by clicking here. And, of course, for a list of our top 25 time travel stories and to follow all of the action as we spotlight time travel tales (and their authors) click here!