Publishers’ Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Nicole Valentine

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2019 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Lerner Publishing Group

A Time-Traveler’s Theory of Relativity, like all time-slip stories, is a novel in which how they get there is of as much interest as where and when they go. 

Photo: Nina Pomeroy Photography.

1.What is the most convincing depiction of time travel you’ve read? (Tom’s Midnight Garden for me.) 

I loved Tom’s Midnight Garden! However, nothing beats the subtle realism of Jack Finney’s [adult novel] Time and Again. The combination of almost-untouched corners of New York City as natural portals and the travelers’ requirement to concentrate on those spaces is incredibly realistic. I’ve never looked at The Dakota the same way again. As for convincing, heart-wrenching repercussions of time travel: Octavia Butler’s [adult novel] Kindred and Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.

2. Did you read about the time-traveling particle? Do you understand what they are talking about?

I did! I read several different articles about it, actually. The truth is I am famous for my obsessions, so friends email me articles all the time. I understand more than most, and less than I would like. I enjoy reading books about astrophysics written for the average person. I’m a big fan of Brian Greene and Alan Lightman. What I don’t immediately understand, I fill in with my imagination — that’s how a lot of my stories are born.

3. Have you ever been lost in the woods (the literal kind)?

Dorset Peak is a real mountain in Vermont, and the corresponding chapters in my book are drawn from my own real panic on the mountain trying to beat the sunset. As much as I love a long walk in the woods, I’m not the most experienced hiker. 

4. Wouldn’t it be great if our future selves could leave us notes?

Well, I’m not so sure about that. There would be a lot of different versions of you leaving present-you notes. Who could you trust? The eldest you? The you that is closest in age to you now and knows what you will immediately suffer based on your decisions? It would get confusing fast. A large part of who we are is based on the specific moment we reside in. The self is always evolving. 

5. Have you had a best friend with whom you tried to save the world?

Yes. I was a serious kid who gravitated to similar kids as friends. We always had big plans. There was a year of attempting to contact alien life forms — but that’s a whole other book.

Sponsored by

Lerner Publishing Group

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