I have been fascinated by time slip and time travel
books ever since I first read The House
on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier, where the hero of the novel agrees to
experiment with a drug made by a friend, which makes his mind travel back to
the 14th century while leaving his body in the present. This was an intriguing concept and from then
on, I was on the lookout for similar books (although it took me years to find
Du Maurier’s story was great, but what really got me
hooked on the time slip genre was The
Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine, a truly ground-breaking novel. The heroine of this story tries to debunk
theories of past-life regression, but ends up reliving the experiences of a
woman who was alive during the time of King John, in an all too vivid
fashion. I literally couldn’t put this
book down and when later I started writing myself, this was the kind of book I
wanted to write. Other stories, such as
A.S. Byatt’s Possession and Rachel
Hore’s The Glass Painter’s Daughter,
only reaffirmed my love of this genre and showed that even more literary
authors liked the concept as well (as you probably know, Possession won the Booker Prize!).
This type of writing seems to me to make history come
alive in a more personal way, because the protagonists in the present are in
some way engaged with people of the past.
In a time slip novel (where there are two strands of a story that are
somehow connected, but the characters in the present don’t actually travel to
the past), this can be achieved in many different ways – through past-life
regression, drugs, research, diaries or ghostly phenomena. The same goes for time travel stories (where
people from the present somehow end up in the past) and I’m constantly amazed
at the various means authors devise in order to have their protagonists travel
As a reader, I find the time slip stories somehow more
convincing because we know that actually travelling through time is not
possible and in order to buy into that theory, we have to suspend our disbelief
much more. Although the existence of
ghosts or multiple lives have never been proven either, for me those notions
are more plausible and easier to believe.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy time travel stories as well – I do, very
much so! But I see them as pure fantasy,
whereas with time slips there is an element of “it could perhaps be true”.
Well, I’d like to think so anyway!
Which is perhaps why I have finally achieved my goal
and written a time slip story myself – The
Silent Touch of Shadows will be published on 7th July this year
and here is a short blurb:-
What will it take to
put the past to rest?
Professional genealogist Melissa Grantham
receives an invitation to visit her family’s ancestral home, Ashleigh Manor.
From the moment she arrives, life-like dreams and visions haunt her. The
spiritual connection to a medieval young woman and her forbidden lover have her
questioning her sanity, but Melissa is determined to solve the mystery.
Jake Precy, owner of a nearby cottage, has
disturbing dreams too, but it’s not until he meets Melissa that they begin to
make sense. He hires her to research his family’s history, unaware their lives
are already entwined. Is the mutual attraction real or the result of ghostly
A haunting love story set partly in the
present and partly in fifteenth century Kent.
Do time slip stories count as historical novels? To me they do, because the make the past come alive in a different way, but I'd love to hear everyone else's view on this!