Historical Time Travel and Mystery
by Carol Pouliot
I love finding a series with characters that grab me, making me want to follow their story over multiple books. That’s what I’m creating in The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series.
In Doorway to Murder, Depression-era cop Steven Blackwell comes face-to-face with 21st-century journalist Olivia Watson when time folds over in the house where they live−he in 1934, she in the present day. Because of her work, Olivia recently researched time-travel and recognizes Einstein’s theory. The theoretical physicist believed there is no past, present, or future, that all time happens simultaneously, and that time can fold over, revealing another “time.” Olivia tells Steven she thinks this is what they are experiencing. The skeptical detective, however, is unfamiliar with the theory and demands physical proof−hard evidence, he says. Olivia easily provides it. Thus, they begin a magical journey together.
I wanted my characters Steven and Olivia to reflect their own time but have the potential for a strong bond and understanding of each other. They are two halves of the same whole−yin and yang.
To begin, I gave Steven a fascination with the future. He reads science fiction and has a special affinity for the works of Jules Verne. At one point in Doorway to Murder, he compares himself to Verne’s characters Michel Ardan and Professor Von Hardwigg. Steven embraces all the latest crime-solving methods and technological advances available to him in the early years of the 20th century. He’s excited about J. Edgar Hoover’s new Federal Crime Lab in Washington, D.C. and everything the scientists there can do. He tells Olivia the Feds are compiling a list of fingerprints from all over the United States and that he, Steven, shares information and results pertaining to his cases. Steven exclaims, “This is the best time to be a cop!”
I created 21st-century Olivia with a nostalgia for the 1930s which, by the way, I share. She dreams about The Golden Age of Travel, when well-heeled travelers packed hat boxes, suitcases, and trunks and embarked on lengthy sea and rail voyages to exotic places. She’s hooked on Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto, and The Thin Man movies. She even named her kitten Mr. Moto!
To make it easier for Steven to believe what is happening to him and Olivia, I wanted him to be at a vulnerable point in his life. When Doorway to Murderopens, he is reeling from the recent unexpected and devastating death of his mother. Like other unmarried people of the time, Steven lived at home with his French-artist mother. His father is an admiral in the U.S. Navy who lives and works in Washington, D.C., only coming home on occasion. Because of the long hours and demands of his job, Steven has little social life. His mother had become his companion and confidante. Now, he’s lonely and misses her lively conversations.
I wanted Olivia to be focused on the adventure of meeting Steven, rather than Steven himself. At the start of Doorway to Murder, she’s getting over the betrayal of her ex-fiancé. She’s finding herself again and enjoying her active single life. She has no interest whatsoever in a new relationship. Olivia left her job as a reporter five years ago to form The Watson Agency, a research enterprise. Its success and her free-lance travel-writing career give her the opportunity to travel overseas, which she loves, and the freedom to set her own working hours, which allows her plenty of time to interact with Steven. When Olivia meets Steven, she boldly seizes the chance for the ultimate trip−one which will take her back in time.
Unlike many characters created by writers, Steven just was. With the exceptions noted above, Detective Sergeant Steven Blackwell came to me fully formed. I didn’t have to work on him. I was stunned when I realized that I knew him the first time I “saw” him. I had a strange experience (that’s a story for another time!) nearly fifty years ago when I saw the image of a young man. He was of average height and build with dark brown hair and eyes. At the time, he was dressed in a plaid flannel shirt and dark corduroy pants. As I wrote Steven’s story, he grew organically. Detective Sergeant Blackwell is a man on a mission. Whatever the circumstances surrounding an investigation, Steven drives himself to uncover the truth and get justice for the victim. In Doorway to Murder, the difficulties of the case lie in the absence of clues. In Threshold of Deceit, the second book in the series, Steven must ignore his disdain for the victim and his admiration and respect for his two main suspects in order to solve a murder.
In some ways, Steven and Olivia are quite different, but in their differences they balance each other. Where he is circumspect and weighs all sides of an issue, she is impulsive and often acts without thinking. He feels comfort in the order of rules and a daily routine. She is a free spirit and goes where the moment takes her.
To help in their understanding of each other, I wanted to be sure they shared some traits. They are fiercely loyal and expect loyalty from those around them. They are bold, adventurous, and exceptionally curious about the world around them, although Olivia has had more opportunities to travel. While each is a product of their time, they both have a strong sense of what is right for them and have created a life unique to themselves. Thanks to Steven’s bohemian mother, he is open-minded, non-judgmental, and more tolerant than many of his contemporaries. Although Olivia is interested in getting married and eventually having children, right now she does what she wants, when and how she wants.
In the past months, Steven and Olivia have forged a strong bond of friendship. He has told no one about her. She has confided in her two best friends. When one of her friends asks about any hint of a romance, Olivia shakes her head and comments, “But, how could we? In his time, I haven’t even been born yet. And right now, he’s probably been dead for years.”
Steven Blackwell and Olivia Watson still have a long road to follow. But we can be sure it will be filled with exciting adventures most of us can only dream about.
A Francophile since she was eleven years- old, Carol Pouliot dreamed of getting her passport, packing her suitcase, and going to Paris. After persuing her MA in French at Stony Brook University, she headed to France for her first teaching job. Later, she taught French and Spanish for over 30 years in Upstate New York, where she also ran an agency that provided translations in more than 24 languages. Passionate about travel, she has visited five continents. Doorway to Murder is the first in the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series. The second novel, Threshold of Deceit, is forthcoming. Carol is currently working on the third book in the series, a Halloween mystery.
Doorway to Murder is available at www.BridlePathPress.com and Amazon.com
Visit Carol at www.carolpouliot.com