Exclusive Interview: “Someone In Time” Editor Jonathan Strahan
They say that love conquers all. But they also say that time waits for no one. It’s yet another good reason why someone should hurry up and invent time travel. Until they do, though, we’ll simply have to live vicariously through stories of time travel romance like the ones in the new anthology Someone In Time: Tales Of Time-Crossed Romance (paperback, Kindle, audiobook). In the following email interview, editor Jonathan Strahan discusses how this collection came together, as well as how mushy and sexy it gets.
The subtitle kind of answers this, but I’ll ask anyway: What is the theme of Someone In Time: Tales Of Time-Crossed Romance? What connects these stories?
These are time travel romances, and they’re connected by love. Love through time.
That said, there are a number of different definitions of romance, and the book allows for romantic love and for a romance as a type of story. That sense of romance is combined with time travel; each and every story has some element of time travel to it. There are tales of people looking for, finding, and losing love — often love in forms they would not have expected — through time.
Who came up with the idea for Someone In Time?
The idea was mine. The inspiration came from two stories I was working on several years ago. About four years ago I worked on Ian McDonald’s Time Was and Ellen Klages’ Passing Strange. One is the story of two men who meet unexpectedly during the war and are separated when a massive science project goes wrong. They spend the rest of time searching for one another, leave mail drops in book stores around the world. The other is the story of two women in San Francisco, an artist at the 1940 World’s Fair and the woman she meets, and of a woman in modern day San Francisco. It’s a tale of love and art and the search for identity. Both of those stories haunted me, leaving me wanting more, so I decided to put together a book of stories that combined love and time travel in as many different ways as possible.
Aside from having to fit the theme, what other parameters did these stories have to fit? Did they need to be new, under a certain length…?
Stories had to fit the theme, at least loosely. And they needed to be under 8,000 words. Other than that, writers had a free hand, and you only need to compare Alix E. Harrow and Catherynne M. Valente’s stories to see that they did just that.
Were there also any story-based parameters? Like, did you tell potential contributors not to just retell The Time Machine as a love story or to not have any Planet Of The Apes-style twists?
No. I wouldn’t want the stories to link to existing intellectual properties, and I’ve always found that you’re better letting creative people be creative. So I simply said love + time travel = whatever that means to you. I’ve found it’s always best to trust writers to come up with something to excite you, and they did.
Once you had the theme and rules in place, how then did you decide what writers to approach?
I kept this as simple as possible. I wanted work from writers whose work was exciting me right now, writers who had some experience writing in this space, and I wanted the cast of writers to be diverse and include both new and established names. I read pretty widely for my annual year’s best science fiction series, so I have a pretty good idea of who is doing interesting work right now. And from there it really just came down to who was available and interested. Of course, if the book does well and we do a volume two, I have some great people in mind.
Were there any instances where someone you approached suggested someone else, someone you didn’t know or maybe even wouldn’t have thought of for this kind of collection?
Not really, no.
And did you ask anyone to contribute because you’d previously edited one of their own books and were impressed with both their work and their work ethic?
Let’s see…one way or another I was working or had worked with Zen Cho, Alix E. Harrow, Ellen Klages, and Catherynne M. Valente on book projects, so that possibly colored my thinking a little. And I was working with Alix E. Harrow on some novellas for Tordotcom Publishing while she wrote her story. But I’ve worked with a number of the people here who have been great in the past — they were all great — and I also happen to think several of them could write just about anything brilliantly.
You and I previously spoke about another anthology you did called Made To Order, which I really, really liked. How do you think working on Made specifically influenced what you did in Someone In Time?
As much as I adore Made To Order, and would love to do a follow-on to it, I don’t think it directly influenced this one at all. Someone In Time really is its own beast and if it’s influenced by anything, it’s by those two Ian McDonald and Ellen Klages novellas I mentioned above. It does all blend a bit though.
As someone who is dead inside, I’m not real big on mushy romance stories. How mushy does Someone In Time get?
Not super mushy. A little squishy. Just a bit. You’ll be fine with it. And there is some funny stuff to go along with the kissing and things.
And in a similar vein, how sexy do the stories in Someone In Time get? Like, would any qualify as sci-fi erotica?
Really not at all. There’s no erotica here and nothing really overtly sexy.
Speaking of erotica, the stories in Someone In Time are obviously sci-fi and romance, but what other genres do these stories fall into?
Science fiction, fantasy, maybe horror a little. I guess the Alix Harrow story is a travel story, too, and Nina Allan’s is almost a historical.
As you know, Hollywood loves turning short stories into movies. Are there any stories in Someone In Time that would work particularly well as a movie?
All of them. Well, most of them. I’d be bowled over to see any of them made and think they all would be great, but Cat Valente’s would mess with your mind. Alix Harrow’s would work well, too.
Finally, is there anything else you think people need to know about Someone In Time?
That it’s a fun book. That it’s fairly light, not too mushy or sexy, but that there is some loving there. It’ll make you laugh, make you cry, and all for a pretty reasonable price. It’s great.