Lovely author Judi Curtin kindly answered my questions about her new book Time After Time, her 80s favourites and writing.
How did you find the experience of writing a standalone book after writing series like Friends Forever, Eva and Alice & Megan?
That’s an embarrassing question – all of my series started off as standalone books. While writing though, I become connected to my characters and am reluctant to let them go. (Story of my life!) Also, I’m a bit of a pushover, so when young readers ask to hear more about a character, I’m happy to oblige. So even though Time after Time began life as a standalone, that’s not going to last. (I suppose every oldest child in a family started off as an only child.)
Do you write longhand, or on the computer?
Always on the computer. I’m not sure how I’d manage without features like copy/paste and find/replace. (Very useful when I change a character’s name halfway through a book or when I realise that someone’s piercing blue eyes are too cliched.) Back in the day, I used to jot down notes on the back of envelopes, if the muse hit while I was away from home. Nowadays though, sudden inspirations are recorded on my phone.
Where is your favourite place to write?
In my dreams I’d be writing in a purpose-built studio in my imaginary garden, with a babbling brook outside, and the scent of sweet-peas wafting in on the warm air. In reality, I always write on my desktop computer, which sits in the corner of my kitchen/living/dining room. (Fortunately I’m usually the only one in my house during the day.)
Where did the idea for come from?
It started with watching my own children as young teenagers, and realising that they had no concept of what my life was like when I was their age. That moved me to thinking about girls going back to meet their young parents. The story really took off when I thought what that encounter would mean to a girl who had never known her mother at all.
Your Friends Forever series also feature time travel. So, of all your books, which time travel adventure would you go on?
It’s hard to feel a personal connection with events like the Titanic sinking, or the volcano in Pompeii, so I’d love to emulate Molly and Beth and go back to a time when my parents or grandparents were young. I’ve seen fleeting glimpses in old photographs, but I’d love to really be there, to live their lives for a brief time, to ask them about stuff.
Quickfire 80s questions:
I’m going to cheat a bit here, and give double answers to some of the questions.
- Favourite 80s movie – two extremes – Airplane and Jean de Florette.
- favourite 80s song – Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen (But I have to give a special mention to Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper)
- favourite 80s fashion – Nothing specific, but I loved the bright colours. Today’s fashions can be a bit too monochromatic for me. (Good taste is highly over-rated.)
- what you would miss most if you travelled back in time to the 80s – My smartphone. I was not an early adopter, but now I get edgy if the battery drops below 50%
- something from the 80s you wish was still around – I struggled with this question, so have to give the vain answer – I’d love to have the skin I had in the 1980’s – you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
Little Women is mentioned in Time After Time – which March sister is your favourite?
Jo – no question about it. But I guess that’s the answer all authors give?
There are some very moving scenes in Time After Time, did you find them difficult to write?
Yes. I try to put a lot of humour into my books, but most of them have a serious theme buried underneath. The story of Beth and her mum is probably the saddest I’ve ever written, and there may be a few tearstains on my dusty old keyboard. By the time I came to write the saddest scenes, I was emotionally connected to Beth, and I could almost feel her pain.
Which of your characters are you most like?
The books definitely aren’t autobiographical, but Megan and I would have a lot in common. I was a quiet, timid child, and often chose louder, braver girls like Alice as my friends. (But if you ask my children this question, they would say I’m most like Megan’s crazy mum.)
What are you writing now?
I’m already destroying Time After Time’s only-child status – I’m heading for the last edit of Fast Forward, a special World Book Day book featuring Molly and Beth on another time-travelling adventure.
Thanks to Judi Curtin for her great answers, I look forward to reading Molly and Beth’s next adventure. If you’re in Dublin tomorrow, be sure to check out the Time After Time launch: