Here’s the setting. I’m in Stuttgart, Germany, and I’m waiting for the train to arrive at the main station. I look around and think to myself: You know, it would be really cool if I could freeze time and still move around. That would be a handy super power to have.
And boom. I had the idea for Time Reavers.
Seriously, that’s how it happened. It’s as dumb as it sounds.
Soon after that, I sat down in my hotel room and wrote a short story. This story eventually became the first and second chapters of Time Reavers. In it, the main character Nicole gets sucked into a pocket of frozen time (inside a Saint Petersberg subway station, no less), meets a rather quirky swordsman, and helps him fight a reaver.
Friendly looking fellows, aren’t they?
Around this time, I was in a major writing transition. Unsatisfied with my previous ten novels (and, naturally, my inability to get them published), I decided to completely rework my writing style. This process went about as smooth and painless as you’d expect (i.e. not at all). I chose Time Reavers to be the first experiment with this new writing style.
Oh, and just to make this even more difficult, I decided to write a contemporary fantasy novel instead of my usual military sci-fi stuff. No sweat, right?
But Time Reavers turned out to be the perfect novel for this transition. With most of the story taking place in the real world, I easily avoided many of my earlier pitfalls. I didn’t have to explain the world. Readers already understood it. Planes were planes. Cars were cars. For the first time in four novels, I didn’t have to describe what mnemonic alloy was.
Oh yeah, it felt good.
It became easy to cut the novel down to its core, streamline the prose, and deliver the scenes at a brisk pace. This allowed me to focus on the few fantastical elements, such as the whole freezing time thing, people with super powers, and the reavers.
Ah, yes. The reavers. Oh, did I have fun with these villains. Their basic design started by mixing a bunch of phobias I have. I figured if I find them creepy, other people might as well. By the way, I posed for that artwork. Don’t believe me? CHECK THIS OUT!
Yeah, that’s embarrassing. But at least it’s not as bad as The Dragons of Jupiter reference photos. No seriously. You see the Crusader with the thermal lance? The one on the right? This guy over here?
Yeah, that’s me holding a trash can. I kid you not. For the other two Crusaders, I was holding a paintball gun.
And I’m not showing those pictures. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.
Anyway, even when Time Reavers was finished, it wasn’t really finished. Recently, the novel went through a major edit. I added a few extra action scenes (can never have too many of those), enhanced the role of a side character, cut some of the dead weight near the end, and … oh yeah, dropped everyone’s age by five years.
Yep. I turned Time Reavers into a Young Adult novel. After H.P. read the initial version, she recommended the change to YA. And while, at first, I wasn’t too crazy about it …
H.P. Holo: You should turn this into a young adult book.
Jacob Holo: Seriously? Isn’t it too violent for teens?
H.P. Holo: Pffffthttttttfffffffrrrp! Haven’t you read The Hunger Games?
Jacob Holo: The what games?
H.P. Holo: Oh, we have to fix this.
I eventually warmed to the idea. And now here we are, just about ready to publish our second novel. It’s going to be fun!
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Jacob, thank you for sharing the story behind the story. I always find these very interesting.