The Timeslip Series
Who doesn’t love to travel – be in it planes, trains, and automobiles or simply in your favorite armchair? I knew I would never give up writing historicals, but the stories coming to me from my world travels called out to be told, and so I was inspired to invent my version of the time-slip-novel. I am currently at work on my fourth, Cities of Pleasure.
The bonus: these novels are double romances: one love story is in historical time and produces long-term consequences; the other love story is in the present and is thoroughly enmeshed in those consequences. Furthermore, these novels feature three global locations and karmic pods of characters reincarnated from one time period to the next.
I read Science magazine every week, and each time-slip novel revolves around a central science mystery I have culled from my reading: cancer research (The Blue Hour), endangered coral reefs (The Crimson Hour), rubber tree blight (The Emerald Hour), and astronomy (Cities of Pleasure).
In the late 1990s, I was drawn to the articles I was reading on the enzyme telomerase, and I made sure that microbiologist Alexandra Kaminski, my heroine in The Blue Hour, was focused on understanding the role of telomerase and cancer. Let’s just say that I can pick ’em. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009 was awarded jointly to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak for their discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.
Who knows, then, what important discoveries Hanes Reynolds, the hero of The Crimson Hour, may be onto in his study of the ocean’s red tides? And will Jordan Charles, the heroine of The Emerald Hour, find the elusive rubber tree species resistant to the leaf blight that currently threatens the world’s rubber tree plantations?
Julie has uploaded a short story entitled The Wedding Night onto her website (http://www.julietetelandresen.com) that readers can download for free.
The Blue Hour
A remarkable double romance that ingeniously mixes cancer research and cancan dancers
“As an avid reader, I am grateful to the author for opening up a new world to me. After years of Clancy, Ludlum, Grisham, King and others, I am excited to explore the world of romantic adventure!”
~ Reader comment
Cancer researcher Alexandra Kaminski is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough when she crosses paths with pharmaceutical representative, Val Dorsainville, and the two are plunged into the mystery, passion, and tragedy of their past lives in Paris of the 1800s. Can they solve the mystery and avert tragedy this time around?
The Crimson Hour
A factastic trot around the globe with an unlikely couple on the run
“Fast-paced and funny, sparkling with energy and exoticism.”
~ Reader comment
Eloise Popescu has one last entry to make in her screw-up-alog, and it’s a doozy: she has just walked into the cross-fire of warring Chinese mafia families and into the path of Hanes Reynolds whose career has just been ruined by those same families. As Eloise and Hanes reluctantly unite forces to escape the clans, they must learn to trust one another … or repeat the fatal mistakes they made the last time they were together in 19th-century Hong Kong.
The Emerald Hour
Another hit in a series that mixes romance, science, and world-wide adventure
“When I found out Tetel had released another book in the series, I rushed out to get it.”
~ Reader comment
Londoner Theodor West can’t quite believe how, much less explain why, the beautiful and free-spirited American botanist, Jordan Charles, is bedeviling him and his high-tech career. But it’s clear that if he wants his career back and that if she wants to avert the destruction of the world’s rubber forests, they must repair what happened the last time they were together – one hundred years ago in London and Rio.
1. What do you do when you are not writing?
Since I am a teacher, what I do when I am not writing is: prepare for class, teach, grade papers, and see students. When I’m not teaching (and not writing), I love to travel. I’ve begun to travel internationally quite a lot. Of course, I love to go out in the evenings with my friends. I enjoy yoga, and I just discovered this summer how much I like ballet bar exercise, which means there is always something new and fun out there in the world to discover. Movies – who doesn’t like movies? A couple of days ago I saw “Enough Said” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. I enjoyed it.
2. Where do you get your ideas?
Good question, and it’s one I can’t answer. I just have them. An idea comes to me, and I pretty much have to work it out by writing it down, because otherwise it clogs my brain and won’t let me think about anything else. This past spring, for no reason I can explain whatsoever, a scene came into my head and just sat there. I never thought I could write a short story (my novels tend to be long, even my novellas are longer than standard novellas), but there it was in my head: just one scene. So I had to explore it. It ended up being an erotic Gothic short story romance/light mystery. It’s titled The Wedding Night, and it’s available for free at my website. You can find the link to it on my homepage:
My graphic designer did a lovely job dressing it up!
3. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
When I was in junior high, a friend gave me The Queen’s Grace by Jan Wescott. I absolutely ate it up. It was about the last wife of Henry VIII, Katherine Parr, and her life and loves. Upon entering high school, I somehow knew that “smart” people didn’t read historical romance, so I turned to higher-minded authors. By the time I finished college, I never wanted to read another high-minded novel again. Some years later, while I was writing my PhD dissertation in linguistics, a (different) friend passed me Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. Light bulb experience. Now this was the kind of thing I liked to read! Fun (and funny in the case of Heyer) and romantic. It also happened that I had such stories in my head anyway, and I realized that it was okay to write those stories down. Before then, it didn’t occur to me that I could write them down. After reading Heyer, I gave myself permission.
4. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I wrote my first novel My Lord Roland, a medieval, in first-person narration. (Fair warning: it’s long. If you love to read and you love the Middle Ages, you will probably like Roland, but that’s not for me to say.) Many agents I contacted had the same reply: No one wants to read a first-person narrated medieval. My thought was: How do they know? Finally, I stopped trying to get an agent. Instead, I went straight to the editors. After a couple of tries, I found one at Warner Books who loved my story.
5. What are your thoughts on book trailers?
Are those the teasers at the end of one book that gives the opening chapter(s) of another book? Generally I don’t read them. By the time I finish one book by an author, I know whether or not I am going to read anything else by him or her, so the trailers serve no purpose. I also don’t like the way they make it seem like the book you’ve bought is longer than you think. I’ve noticed that authors are starting to add information on the Amazon descriptions of their books, letting potential buyers know if there are one or more trailers. That cuts down on disappointment.
6. If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Tough one. My immediate thought was, I’d go into the past. But on second thought, I’d definitely want to go into the future, to see what happens next. I figure we already know what went on before – that is, if we do enough historical research. The future has to be pretty amazing. Just think what someone who had lived only 100 years ago would think about today. Mind boggling.
7. If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
Another tough one! Normally I would name some interesting historical figures like Marie Antoinette (do you know what’s in store for you, kiddo?) or Hitler or Jesus or Leonardo da Vinci, but – and here I am being crazy – this week (the week of October 14) I would have Barack Obama, Henry Reid, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and Ted Cruz to dinner, and I would be in charge of the conversation.
8. If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
1. My family (that’s an aggregate and doesn’t count as a thing, but it’s the first item that came to mind). 2. Internet Access. 3. A device – computer, tablet, phone – allowing me to connect to the Internet. (I didn’t think you’d let me get away with Internet + Internet access device as counting as one thing.)
Did I just cheat in answering this question? I’m assuming a telecommunications system that extends to desert islands. I think that’s possible but perhaps that possibility is not in the spirit of the question. I halfway answer your question in Swept Away, when two people (my hero and heroine) are swept away to an island in the Caribbean in the 17th century, and they arrive with not much in hand, since their ship has just sunk. The island isn’t deserted, however. It’s inhabited by Arawak Indians. This story is a comedy, by the way. And now I realize the answer to your question boils down to one thing: on a desert island, I want a hunky guy.
9. When it comes to writing, what are your strong points? What are your weaknesses?
I’ve never considered these questions before. Odd. They seem to be reasonable questions, ones a person in a period of honest self-assessment might want to address.
However, given my answers (ii) “Be kind to yourself” and (vii) “Honor your creativity” to Question 17, below, I’m little leery of beating myself up by identifying a writing weakness. For that matter, I’m equally leery of identifying a strength, because doing so seems to dishonor my sense of the integrity of the creative experience. I’m not even sure it’s a question that a reader/critic can answer. Of course, readers and critics do it all the time, and sometimes writers are harder on other writers than regular readers. (Jane Austen has a wonderful line in Northanger Abbey: “If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard?”). I’m not sure there is an Ultimate Judge of good writing/bad writing, that is, if you mean for ‘strength’ to map on to some aspect of ‘good writing’ and ‘weakness’ to map on to some aspect of ‘bad writing.’ This is not to say that I don’t prefer some stories/authors over others. I have my reading taste. However, whether an author’s work I like less has some weakness, I can’t say.
Now, I understand why questions about strengths and weaknesses appear on application forms or come up in job interviews. It’s important for an employer to assess how an applicant might perform in the job they are applying for: Is this person a team player? Can this person work well independently? etc. However, for the creative enterprise, it’s an integral whole. I have a vision for something. I bring that vision to life through words.
10. What do you think of this term: Writer’s Block? How do you overcome it?
I do not believe in writer’s block. I do not think it exists.
It took me 10 years of writing before I could formulate the idea that writing is an aerobic activity. There is such a thing as being in writing shape. I remember when I first began writing, I would spend maybe 5 or 6 hours on perhaps 2 paragraphs, and at the end of the day, not only were they bad paragraphs but I was also exhausted by the effort. I clearly wasn’t in shape. One doesn’t just tie on a pair of running shoes and go out and run a 10 K, much less a marathon. You have to be in running shape, just like you have to be in writing shape.
So, to me writing is like breathing. There is no such thing as a breathing block – except for asthma or someone having a panic attack, I suppose. For writers, there is only being in writing shape – or not. If a writer is feeling asthmatic – to continue my analogy of having a writing block is like having a breathing block – then I would suggest the writer read his or her favorite book. That would act an as inhaler, opening up the airways. Reading is always a remedy for whatever is ailing a writer. In my case, so is taking a walk.
I live by Fred Astaire’s motto: “If I don’t dance one day, I notice it. If I don’t dance two days in a row, my audience notices it. If I don’t dance three days in a row, I should get another job.” Fred Astaire was in some pretty good dancing shape.
11. How many books have you written?
I have written 1 short story (The Wedding Night), as I’ve just said, 3 “time-slip” novels (reincarnation romances: The Blue Hour, The Crimson Hour, and The Emerald Hour), 4 novellas (DeMarco’s Café, French Lessons, The Handfast, and a BDSM-inspired novella published under a pen name, more on this below), and 15 “straight” historical romances (as opposed to “time-slip” romances), which I won’t list here. They’re all at my website. In addition, I’ve written 2 major academic books, and I am in the midst of writing the third one now. I’m not going to bother to count how many academic articles I have written.
12. Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite? Why?
No fair! It’s like choosing among children. But okay, I know it’s a legit question, one I can’t hedge like I did in answering Question 9. I always fall in love with my heroes. I have to say I loved bringing Roland to life in my first book. I also loved Simon from Simon’s Lady – such a clod but with such integrity. Then Adam from Swept Away is kind of a hoot. Lawrence Harris from Carolina Sonnet is a sweetheart under his impassive exterior. I like the complexity of Val/Victor in The Blue Hour, one of my time-slip/reincarnation novels. The Dom in my BDSM-inspired novella is yummy. Then there’s ….
Oh, wait! I just reread the question. It’s in the singular. I get only one pick.
Hmmm…. Okay, another hedge. I can’t narrow it down to one.
13. What is one of the most surprising things you’ve learned as a writer?
That the age-old advice: “If you aren’t surprised, your readers won’t be either” is absolutely true.
14. What does your writing schedule look like?
I tend to work in terms of chunks – it might be a scene or it might be an exchange of dialogue – and say to myself, “I’m going to see what that chunk looks like, how it’s going to work in writing.” So I might block out in my head how many pages I think that chunk will take, and then I write it. Having never written a short story, I figured the scene I had in mind for The Wedding Night would take up around 20 manuscript pages. Way off! It came out to over 60. It’s 30 in the version available at my website.
15. Do you manage to write every day?
See the answer Question 10, above. In reality, I might not get pages for a particular project written every day, but every day I do, in fact, do some kind of writing. I have a schedule for today of what I want to get written (a couple of pages – a chunk – in the academic book I’m writing), but I think that what I am doing right now in answering your questions counts as writing, and I do not mean this as a cop-out. Any time you put your ideas together in writing counts as writing or at least as writing warm up. Runners stretch. Pianists play scales. Writers blog or journal or answer questions such as these. It all counts.
You see that I view writing as a very kinetic activity, a kind of performance.
I love to learn languages. That’s part of my job as a professional linguist, after all. Over the years I have written essays in the foreign languages that I either know or am learning. I studied Romanian intensively in 2005-06 when I spent a year in Bucharest, and I wrote two essays a week for my Romanian teacher. It was a great way to learn the language and practice vocabulary and new constructions. I now spend summers in Romania, and I continue to write essays from time to time. When I was in Vietnam for six months in the spring of 2012, I also wrote essays in Vietnamese – not very good ones at first, mind you, but I was still putting pen to paper. It wasn’t until I was creating my website that I realized these essays counted as writing, and I’ve now included them on my bio page. I had previously thought of them as “language practice” not as “writing practice.” Well, what’s the difference?
16. What’s the latest news you’d like to share?
This spring and summer I gobbled up BDSM novels. (In case some of your readers don’t know, BDSM stands for Bondage & Discipline, Dominance & Submission, Sadism & Masochism.) Suddenly one day I woke up with a story for a BDSM-inspired novella. I mentioned above that I have published it under a pen name, but that is not because I am ashamed of it. I totally love it and loved writing it. Rather, there is a specific non-writing-related reason why I am not identifying myself as the author for now. In a few months I will claim it and place it alongside my other books at my website.
If any of your readers like BDSM and want to read mine right now, then the clue to finding it is that mine is the only BDSM novel set in Vietnam on Kindle. The price is $0.99. If I could figure out how to make it free, I would do so. I notice other books at Amazon for free. I just don’t see how to do it. Maybe you or one of your readers could tell me.
17. Do you have any advice for new writers?
i. Find a writer whose work you admire and study how that writer structures scenes and plots, makes transitions, handles dialogue and characterization, and anything else you can think of. Do not try to imitate what that writer does. Come to understand it and creatively adapt it to your work and your voice.
ii. Be kind to yourself as a beginner. Maybe you will hit your story/novel out of the park on your first try (and lucky you), but mostly you will write drivel. It’s okay. George Gershwin said, “I write 6 songs a day just to get rid of the bad ones.” Allow yourself to get rid of the bad pages/stories/novels. It’s a natural process. My first novel ended in the wastebasket, a homely, unshapely mess. As they say in Russian “The first pancake is never good.” Throw out your bad writing and celebrate the fact that you’re getting the first duds over with!
(You see that I love mottos and sayings. I think this preference explains my love of genre writing. I enjoy playing with formulas.)
Also be kind to yourself as an intermediate and even experienced writer. The surest way to be kind to yourself is to be true to your vision. You will know when you have brought your true vision to life. Whether anyone else likes it or not is not your problem.
iii. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
iv. Get used to being in the saddle (at your desk).
v. Surround yourself with people who support you and your work. This means that you have to be equally supportive of whatever they do, in return.
vi. Say what you write out loud. Hear how it sounds.
vii. Honor your creativity. It is not silly or shameful (or anything else negative) to want to be a writer. This is a version of being true to your vision, mentioned above. In this case, it means being true to yourself. And when you have honored your creativity and been kind and true to yourself as a writer, you have probably produced something I would want to read!
viii. Remember that many wonderful writers have day jobs. They may have them for any number of reasons, one of which may be that their day job feeds rather than saps their creativity. Another reason may be they need the money. It is always helpful to have food on the table and a roof over your head. However, if find you need more time to write and want to spend less time at a day job, then here is my advice: There are two ways to be rich: have a lot of money or want less. So, want less and write more.
Julie Tetel Andresen has always loved history, travel and foreign languages. She has lived for extended periods in Germany, France, Romania and Vietnam. When she is not out of the country, she can be found in Durham, North Carolina or Orlando, Florida, as well as New York City.
She grew up with a passion for playing the piano. As an adult she transferred that passion into writing romance novels and scholarly books about language. She likens writing essays in foreign languages to playing scales and arpeggios as warm-up exercises for writing in English. She also practices yoga on a regular basis and thinks of learning new grammatical forms as trying new mental asanas: can she get her leg behind her head in Romanian or get into full lotus in Vietnamese? No? Well, then, how about triangle pose or half-lotus?
Julie Tetel Andresen
For those of you interested in the two types of writing that I do – the romance novels and the academic linguistics – you may wish to read my chapter “Postmodern Identity (Crisis)” in Romantic Conventions, edited by Anne K. Kaler and Rosemary E. Johnson-Kurek (Ohio State University Press).