1. If you could travel back in time, (assuming there’d be no risk to yourself or changing the course of history) where and when and why would you go?
If I could choose any time to visit (risk-free), it would probably be the Jurassic period — sometime when dinosaurs roamed the earth. This is a fantasy I’ve harbored my entire life, going back to my childhood fascination with dinosaurs, so nine-year-old me is right now saying thanks for remembering me.
2. Your book is set in during the fall of 1990. What fascinates you most about this time period?
This time period fascinates me because I believe it’s a secretly pivotal moment in history that few people recognize. The United States stood on the brink of war in the Persian Gulf. A few months later, the country plunged into a conflict that heralded a deeper entanglement in that region. The consequences of U.S. involvement in the Gulf has echoed from that point to this very day.
3. What elements of this time period do we still see today?
So much has changed since 1990. Technology has wildly altered the ways we communicate and interact. So much of life now is plotted out and calculated. Our lives are measured and circumscribed. All of which makes those few moments of serendipity even more important. Whenever we can throw off the constraints of technology, meet face-to-face, randomly encounter friends and strangers, I think those are our best, most alive moments. And while they’re much more rare now than they were in 1990, they thankfully still do occur.
4. What kind of insights do you think young people from this time period have?
Kids from that time period had no idea what the internet was, and cell phones were only something rich people had. There was a certain level of self-reliance we had to adopt. We had to be creative with how we entertained ourselves. And we also had a high level of autonomy. This comes through in my novel because with none of those things, the main character, Kirby Russo, is more easily able to disappear from military school without anyone knowing where he is. Plus, life without GPS has given him the wherewithal to navigate his way from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Chicago, Illinois, in search of his long-lost girlfriend.
5. Is there an historical tidbit that didn’t make it in the book, but is super interesting?
There is a historical tidbit that did make it into the book, though I doubt most readers will catch it. At a certain point, Kirby finds himself in Chicago and encounters two people in a band whose names are Billy and D’arcy. Though it’s never stated in the book, they are two of the founding members of the band Smashing Pumpkins, who were on the brink of breaking out onto the worldwide stage just a few short years later.
6. What’s your favorite historical fiction (any age!)
Jay Parini’s book, The Last Station, is about the final year of Leo Tolstoy’s life. Even though I’ve never been a huge Tolstoy fan, I found myself absorbed by this story, and it stuck with me long after I finished reading the book.
7. What are you working on right now?
I’m putting the finishing touches on a book that’s not historical fiction and isn’t Young Adult. It’s about two men who have devoted their lives to looking for Bigfoot in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana. It’s also about myths, magic, love, and the healing power of friendship.