06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Is Time Travel Romance Back "In" Again?

by Angela Quarles, Time Travel Romance Author

At the time I'm writing this post, the mid-season finale of Outlander hasn't aired yet--in fact, it's tonight! And I, like scads of other fans, are eagerly awaiting another dose of Jamie goodness. Since I'm kicking off this month for the time travel romance authors, I felt like it would only be appropriate to mention the series that most judge our time travel romance books by, even though technically it's not a Romance. But I think the reason readers do, is because of the hero, Jamie. He does epitomize the Romantic Hero. And let's face it, you write a yummy, compelling hero like that, and you'll get droves of fans (though not all, there are some haters).

But Outlander wasn't the first. As near as I can tell, that honor goes to Anya Seyton and her 1972 novel Green Darkness, but I'm not positive. If you know of an earlier one, please pipe up in the comments! But Outlander did seem to spawn a sub-genre in time travel romance--the Scottish time travel.

I was a late-comer to Outlander; I didn't read it until 2010 after I'd written the first draft of my newly released debut novel Must Love Breeches (and promptly had to change the name of my main character from Clare to Isabelle!).Until then, my forays into time travel fiction were in the science fiction genre, like Connie Willis' Doomsday Book, or the classics like H.G. Wells The Time Machine and Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. But I think I mainly enjoyed time travel stories through movies, like Kate & Leopold or Hot Tub Time Machine or Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. But I think the first one for me, was the classic Christopher Reeve movie Somewhere in Time.

I'm not sure what draws me to it, and since I discovered time travel romance, I'm able to feed my love for it more often. I think it's the fact that, when well-written, it allows the reader to experience the past through a modern lens, which allows for more opportunity to contrast modern culture with the past. I'm also a sucker for fish-out-of-water stories.

It's funny how trends go, or what's perceived to be popular. From what I hear, time travel romance was very popular in the 90s, but then the market became over-saturated, so the traditional publishers pulled back on them. But it enjoyed a solid following of readers afterward, who got their fix from indie or small press publishers, or the occasional traditionally published book. I've had readers say, after hearing what my book is about, say "oh, that's so popular right now," and I'm taken aback, because for the last three years, which was when I started the publication journey for this book, I was hearing from agents and editors that the genre was dead, and that I was going against trend. I didn't care, I loved this book and wanted to find a home for it. Three agents loved it enough too, and offered to represent it. I chose one, and off we went, only to face rejection. It did get through some gatekeepers in two NY houses, only to be shot down by the marketing department, who felt it wasn't marketable. Basically, the refrain we were hearing was that time travel was dead and coupled with being a debut author, it was too risky. I wanted to shake them, and say, "But Outlander is coming to Starz and will breathe new life into it." I did receive two offers from reputable small presses, but decided instead to turn them down and go indie, because I wanted the control. And I'm glad I did! I worked hard this summer to put it through rounds of professional edits so that it could be ready in time for Outlander, in case it did spark a new trend, a flexibility I wouldn't have had if I'd gone traditional or accepted the small press contracts.

Now, because of Outlander, new readers are coming to that series (I know, because I work in a bookstore and am selling it). And because of its popularity, and huge media exposure, people outside of our writing world are thinking this is a hot, popular thing. Yay! As I said earlier, this was a weird mental shift for me, as I'd been hearing for so long that it's a dead genre. Hopefully, Outlander will appeal to a new generation of readers and again spawn a curiosity to read more in that vein. I've already seen some reviewers of mine say they picked it up because they'd been watching Outlander and wanted to try a time travel romance.

What do you think? Twenty years later, is the Starz adaptation of Outlander making time travel romance popular again?

Book Page: http://bit.ly/MLBBook
Trailer: http://youtu.be/5DBDbI2suOg

Blurb: She's finally met the man of her dreams. There's only one problem: he lives in a different century.

"A fresh, charming new voice" – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare


A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.

Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.

Bio:Angela Quarles is a geek girl romance writer whose works includes Must Love Breeches, a time travel romance, and Beer & Groping in Las Vegas, a geek romantic comedy in novelette form. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German from Emory University, and a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She currently resides in a historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, AL.


Judith Ashley said...

Hi Angela,

Thanks for guesting with us at Romancing The Genres. You mentioned one of my all time favorite movies "Somewhere In Time"! I even bought the VCR so I could watch it many times. Most people I know have never heard of it so imagine my surprise when you listed it and called it a "classic".

I don't read much time travel but your story looks intriguing...Vicious Viscount bent on revenge finds himself attracted to time traveled colonial!

What I do like about the time travel concept is there is a true conflict for the person who has time traveled...they must chose between the worlds they know.

Anonymous said...

@Judith -- I wonder if it's an age thing about SIT? I'm in my late 40s so maybe the younger generation just hasn't heard of it?

But thanks for having me! I enjoyed kicking off this month's Saturday topic... :)

Christy Carlyle said...

I love Somewhere in Time too! I watched it again and again as a girl and teen, and I'm pretty sure I cried every time. :) Living in the Midwest, I also had the pleasure of visiting Mackninac Island, and I've always dreamed of staying at the Grand Hotel.

Great post, Angela! Thanks for guesting at RTG.

Judith Ashley said...

Not sure when Somewhere in Time came out but I'm definitely more than twenty years your senior. The chemistry between Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour was subtle/understated in many ways which, for me, made it all the more powerful.

OMG, Christy we should plan a writing retreat at the Grand Hotel when we're best selling authors. Angela will have to some along also.

Anonymous said...

That would be awesome!! Here's hoping we become bestsellers :) I saw it in my impressionable youth too, and loved it. I really do think it might have been the first TT for me. It was either that or Connecticut Yankee. Too long ago now to be sure :)

Anonymous said...

Gah! No, the first TT for me was Voyagers! How could I have forgotten that? It's the whole reason I named the hero Phineas, LOL....

Sarah Raplee said...

I like time travel stories for the same reasons you mentioned, Angela. And yes, I think Outlander has made time travel stories popular again!