Hot on the heels of The Revenant‘s release I am thrilled to announce the completion of my next YA novel, I Was, Am Will Be Alice.
After narrowly escaping death in a school shooting, 9 year old Alice Carroll realizes she can time travel when under extreme stress, a situation she is determined to learn to control in order to go back to that day and save the lives of her teacher and classmates and discover the identity of the woman who sacrificed her life so Alice could live.
I began writing Alice when, while shopping for agents and publishers for The Revenant, I found a call for clients for a new agent on Chuck Sambuchino’s excellent “Writer’s Digest” blog. This particular agent said she would love to read a young adult version of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (TTW). I absolutely love TTW, and adopted her request as a personal challenge. I began with a similar premise: what if someone, a young girl, discovered she had the ability to time travel? In Niffenegger’s novel, the main character, Henry, keeps returning to his first episode of time travel, when he was in a car accident with his mother. Henry survived because he time traveled out of the car avoiding the crash which killed his mother. In my novel, Alice’s defining moment is being caught in a school shooting in grade three in which her favourite teacher killed. There is a romance and an episode with frostbite, too, but that’s where the similarities end.
The name Alice Carroll comes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I appropriated that name for my character early in the writing because the more I wrote, the weirder the character’s predicament until it was almost like she’d entered a bizarre world where nothing made sense to her any more. Why did she survive when others perished? Why did she time travel? What kind of future could she possibly make for herself? Would she ever learn to control it? Why did the shooting happen? Could she find a way to save her teacher? These questions, and more, confuse my Alice, much like Wonderland confused Carroll’s. To drive the parallel home, I borrowed other names from Wonderland to draw further connections.
Though a mouthful, the title for the book comes from something Henry says in TTW:
I love. I have loved. I will love.
I liked the juxtaposition of the different tenses and adapted this for my novel. Late in the writing I decided to use the title, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice, as subtitles and divide the book into sections. I Was Alice describes Alice of the past, when she discovers she can time travel and is traumatized by it. I Am Alice describes Alice of the present, when she realizes she can’t continue randomly travelling through time for the rest of her life and she decides to do something about it. I Will Be Alice describes Alice of the future, after her life comes full circle and she returns back to the day of the shooting and learns answers to some of the questions that have plagued her for most of her life.
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