Time Travel Novel? Maybe Not!

I was on Query Shark's blog (shades of Ms. Snark there, although the agent is somewhat gentler), looking at and commenting on some of the queries.

One was about a story wherein the characters go back in time to the launched/about to be launched/being built Titantic. It sounded fascinating, if a bit long (150K words!), and the title didn't grab me.


That got me thinking (always a scary thing) about my current WIP, Yesterday's Gone:
  • MC time travels back to 1942 from 1974
  • Time travel does not include a machine or some SF way of travelling
  • A Roman goddess sends the MC back in time
  • Although not a huge part of the story, the goddess does do, um, certain things on the sly
By "certain things on the sly," I mean magical-type things: She "talks" telepathically (when she feels like it), can come down to Earth in either her goddess form or in mortal (earthly) form, she can influence (or not) certain events, and she can play around with/rearrange the structure of buildings (or make it seem that way).


Because of a Wikipedia article on time travel, and another one on historical fantasy, I now think I should pitch my novel as historical fantasy.

What made me change my mind is this section about historical fantasy:
Historical fantasy is a subgenre of fanatsy, related to historical fiction. It includes stories set in a specified historical period but with some element of fantasy added to the world, such as magic or a mythical creature hidden in the cracks. Often the magic retreats from the world so as to allow history to continue unaltered[...]
Takes place in 1974New Jersey (eh, maybe not that part of it) and 1942 Los Angeles and San Francisco (definitely historical). Check.

Has a Roman goddess. Check.

Roman goddess can do magical stuff, but it's hidden (except to those in the know, of course). Check.


(Always wanted to do that...if anyone has seen The Three Stooges, and, specifically, a completely politically-incorrect short having to do with the Stooges crashing a WWII Nazi/Japanese spy ring...then you know what I'm getting at.)

Then again, maybe even the Stoogeaphiles don't have a clue. ::shrug::

Anyway, I don't think it can be a straight time travel novel because the time travel aspect isn't the central thing, isn't referred to again and again, doesn't have a machine that causes the time travel to happen.

It's a trope I've used to move the story along.

Plus I have the addition of the Roman goddess; she's snarky, which is not exactly typical of a god or a goddess. She can lay on the booming voice and other goddess-type crap when she feels she needs to, but she's more interested in following a certain character around because she finds the character's actions and reactions fascinating.

Which is the main reason why the Roman goddess grants the MC's plea for help in finding her birth mother.

Historical fantasy. Yup. That's what it's going to be from now on.

~Nancy Beck


Liz said...

I know. You posted this ages ago. My only excuse is that I've been wrapped up in other stuff and haven't made the time to comment. Shame on me.

It's really funny that you didn't 'spot the genre' for your WIP before now. As soon as you mentioned in an earlier post that the MC went back to WWII, I pegged it as Historical Fantasy!

Just goes to show that we really are too close to our work to judge it, aren't we?