When Time Snap first came out, my young friend Max interviewed me for his school paper. We talked again when I finished Time Crunch, and with Time Jam now available, Max asked for another visit.
SHANE: Well, here we are again.
MAX: Yeah, and thanks for the advanced copy. That makes things easier for me. So … I know you said Time Jam was harder to write than your other books. How was that?
SHANE: Y’know, when I wrote Time Crunch, I hardly felt like I was working. I didn’t know in advance what was going to happen, and every day I got up excited to get to work to find out what was going to happen next. There were a lot of times I’d finished writing a scene and think, “Whoa … I can’t believe that just happened!” But the whole time, the scenes were just flowing together, almost like someone else was doing the writing, and I was just typing it into the computer.
MAX: So what was different this time?
SHANE: Well, I still didn’t know what was going to happen. But I had to work a lot harder for it.
MAX: Is that why it took so long to finish?
SHANE: Exactly. I had to think about it a lot more. I still don’t know where a lot of the ideas came from. Looking back, I can’t remember what prompted certain events and situations—and when I look at them, I even wonder how I ever thought of them—but I know they didn’t come as easily as they did in Time Crunch.
MAX: What was the hardest part?
SHANE: The editing. And rewriting. Ernest Hemingway said he rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms 39 times before he was satisfied. That’s sort of what I felt like. When I wrote the final draft, I went back to punch up the beginning—that’s the page most people read—and ended up going through the whole book again. And then I did that two more times.
MAX: So are you satisfied?
SHANE: Let me put it this way. One of my personal “curses” is that once I finish a book, I can’t go back and read it just for the enjoyment of it. No matter how much I’ve tried to polish it, I know I’ll find parts I’d like to rewrite.
MAX: So you really don’t ever read them again?
SHANE: No. And I’d really like to. But even when I’m just reading, I can’t help thinking like an editor. And it makes me miserable to find a sentence or paragraph that needs a little something and know I can’t do anything about it.
MAX: Not to change the subject, but I noticed this book is a lot different than the others.
SHANE: Yeah, I tried out a few new ideas.
MAX: Like the quotes from Zach’s science fair paper below the chapter titles …
SHANE: Right. And then the chapters from the tyrannosaur’s point of view. The quotes just seemed necessary. I didn’t want people to forget that this wasn’t just another walk in the woods; that something awful and terrible was about to happen. And I didn’t want the tyrannosaur to be just another nasty animal in the forest. I wanted her to be just as important as Chase and Zach and Tali.
MAX: Let’s talk about Tali …
SHANE: Well, you remember Klorel, in Time Snap? People are always asking when we’re going to see her again. I couldn’t get her into this story, but Tali fit right in. And I liked having her there to torment Chase and Zach a little.
MAX: So, are we going to see Klorel again?
SHANE: We might. But you know the way I work: I don’t like to plan that far ahead. If and when she shows up again, it’s going to surprise me as much as anyone.
MAX: Speaking of which, I can’t let you go without asking about the ending …
SHANE: Well, that surprised me, too. I don’t want to give anything away, but it just kind of happened. I was pounding away on my keyboard and BOOM! It happened. And I remember thinking, “Oh, oh. Now I’m in trouble …”
MAX: Sooooo, is it fair for me to ask—
SHANE: All I can tell you is, I don’t know either. But I’m excited to find out!