Jump Into a World of Cowboys and Dinosaurs in Ginn Hale's Fantasy Anthology, The Long Past

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If you're looking for a fresh new world of fantasy to jump into, then boy do we have the book for you! The Long Past is a collection of stories through the eyes of three LGBT couples as they experience a new world where mages have created rifts in time, flooding the world with water and dinosaurs.
 
The first story follows Grover, a trapper with an affinity for animals as he is reunited with his old friend and lover Lawrence. Lawrence is a veteran mage, and after returning home from the war, asks Grover a dangerous favor — to bring him to the closest rift so that he can close it.The second story follows Abril and Geula as they go from mere performers at Chicago's United Americas Exhibition, to investigators freeing women that have been shackled by technology created by Thomas Edison. The third, a story about Pinkerton detective Dalfon Elias as he tries to untangle a web of lies and murder that surround the innocent Lucky. 
 
There is so much in this book, that we knew we had to sit down with Ginn Hale and ask all of our burning questions!
 
RT: What inspired you to combine the elements of magic, dinosaurs, dashes of steampunk and countless other themes into one genre-bending book?
 
Ginn Hale: Inspiration is such a tough thing to pin down, but I think that the book probably had its genesis decades ago when I was a little kid and I first saw the fossil of a huge ichthyosaur embedded in stone at a natural history museum and learned that the spot where I stood had once been deep underwater and home to ancient and astounding creatures.   
 
To this day I still recall the sense of wonder I felt as I looked at those remains and realized that the past was not something utterly lost but instead a presence nearly close enough to reach back and touch.
 
Later I would feel the same way about many places and times in our world’s history, because it seems to me that no matter how far we travel forward in time remnants of our shared past come with us. Not just as fossils, but as traditions and heritages and sadly as prejudices. So we all carry remains of times long gone with us in both terrible and beautiful ways. What we do with our present lives will form the histories that the next generations will take with them into their futures. 
 
Of course as a fantasy author, I couldn’t resist making that metaphoric idea into the reality of a story. Though I realized that I would need a little magic to get the job done and so I added mages to the mix.   
 
There’s a lot of historical context in each short story, as characters deal with the effects of the Second Opium War, late 19th century technology and more. What was your research process like? What was the craziest thing you learned?
 
I read up on the 1800’s in general and then started researching specific events and places —like the Worlds Columbian Exhibition in Chicago and the Taiping Rebellion in China. I also dug into the biographies of the people of the age; Adventures and Life of Nat Love, Better Know in Cattle Country as Deadwood Dick — by Himself, is quite a read!
 
I came across all kinds of odd, wonderful, and unexpected information — for example, the leader of the Taiping Rebellion claimed that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ.  U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves is credited with arresting a staggering 3,000 felons during a period when the entire United States population was estimated to be around 50,000,000. 
 
But the fact that caused me to pause and take a moment to really think about the world I was writing had to do with the sheer scale of some dinosaurs. In his book Dinosaurs Without Bones, Anthony J. Martin calculated the impact force a brachiosaurus would produce by simply regurgitating and it was a bone crushing 68,600 pounds.  I was astounded and horrified for hours after that — and also weirdly delighted that someone had thought to do the calculations.
 
Instead of writing one continuous narrative, you wrote three separate short stories. Was this originally the plan? Why did you go with this format?
 
I only planned to write Grover’s story but after I completed the novella, I kept thinking about the setting and how history would alter through the following years. I’d already been playing with the idea of a story about a magician’s assistant who is the real magician and I realized that the world of The Long Past would be a perfect place to set that story.  And once I was going I had to write another story.
 
I still love the setting and I’ve begun to toy with setting an entire novel there, though for the time being I’m very happy with how the three stories in the collection work together.  
 
It felt so uniquely American to have a diverse cast of characters accomplish huge tasks together, whether it be closing a rift in time, taking down Thomas Edison, or outsmarting a group of rich ranchers. Is there anything you want readers to take away from your story?
 
Yeah, diversity is really central to the stories. I’d love readers to come away from the book thinking about just how wonderful it is to live in a world filled with so many different people. I think it’s so important to cherish the different strengths, experiences and ideas that make up our shared humanity. 
 
While there are three stories in The Long Past, the first is definitely the longest (not that I’m complaining). What is it about Grover and Lawrence that made you delve deeper into their relationship and their journey?
 
Grover and Lawrence both have endured scarring experiences and are keeping secrets that I very much wanted readers to discover along with the characters. They’re trying to save this weird new world, while at the same time they’re attempting to rebuild the hope and trust they’ve both lost after being separated for years by war and cataclysm. There’s just so much to delve there!    
 
The fantasy genre doesn’t require happy endings like the romance genre does — but every couple in The Long Past gets their much deserved happily-ever-afters. Was it important to you that your characters get the happiness they deserved?
 
Happy endings are incredibly important to me because I spent my youth searching really hard for books featuring LGBT protagonists only to then read about their failures, suffering and deaths — over and over and over again. That wasn’t an experience that I would ever put another LGBTQ person through.
 
And the thing is, I know from personal experience that tragedy doesn’t represent the stories of our community. We have overcome oppression on so many fronts and in so many places. There are still battles raging but I truly believe that we will someday see a day when bigotry will be a thing of the past.
 
While readers will be waiting on the edge of their seats for The Long Past, I have a feeling they’ll want more — do you have any other projects in the works? 
 
Yes!  The next book is in my Cadleoninas fantasy series, which began with a young inventor schooling with a cursed nobleman in Lord of the White Hell and then led to a magical war in Champion of the Scarlet Wolf.  Now all the secrets and spells in the earlier books come together to change the world of Cadeleon forever. 
 
We can't wait to see more from Ginn! But first, don't forget The Long Past — pre-order from one of these retailers: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Indiebound
 
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