Monday, May 13, 2013

An inside look into "The Time Hunters"

Over the course of  my conversations with Carl Ashmore, author of "The Time Hunters," I've been privileged to learn a little more about the inspiration behind this acclaimed series for children of all ages.  So I asked Carl if he would be gracious enough to do an interview for my blog, and I'm excited to report that he agreed.  So I'm thrilled to present this inside look into "The Time Hunters."

What inspired you to write “The Time Hunters?”
     The idea was the inspiration. I wanted to craft a contemporary adventure saga with a classic, almost timeless feel. Using the platform of time travel ensured I could blend history with myth, fact with fiction, actuality with speculation. In short, it gave me the history of the world (and that of mythology) to play with. The only limitations therefore are those of my own imagination. And those are the kind of limitations a children’s author can really welcome.

Did you know you wanted to do a series as you were writing the first book?
     Absolutely. When I was storylining the first book, I realized there was so much I wanted to explore than could ever exist in one book - the character arcs, the themes, the wider time travelling community, various historical eras, numerous myths/legends. One book simply couldn’t fulfill the greater ambitions I had for the saga. It had to be a series, and one with a very tight overall narrative arc.

Why did you decide to use time travel as the basis for this book series?
     As a child, I was a huge fan of the Indiana Jones films, but always thought it a shame Indy was confined to operating in his own time (1930’s/40’s). I was also a fan of Ray Harryhausen’s films (Jason and the Argonauts, The Valley of Gwangi, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad etc.) and adored the sheer unadulterated fantasy of lost islands, monsters, mythical cities, grand quests etc. With “The Time Hunters” I wanted to create the ultimate “treasure hunt” story, one in which I could search for the most famous relics in history (the Golden Fleece, Pandora’s Box, The Spear of Destiny) in historical eras that ignited my imagination. Time Travel gave me the platform to do that. In short, anything goes with Time Travel. After all, can anyone really prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Minotaurs didn’t exist?

What is your favorite time travel novel?
     “The Time Machine” by HG Wells - the first and the best.

Many of the people and artifacts in your books are historical. Where do the ideas for these historical characters/items come from?
     I love the idea of fusing the real and the fictional - both characters and artifacts - into a seamless narrative. Ideally, I want the reader to be unsure as to whether someone/something is based on fact or not. There is no greater pleasure for me than finding out a young reader (or an older reader, for that matter) has conducted their own research into history after reading the books.

Aribert Heim
What is the one historically-based person/artifact that readers have been most surprised to learn is not entirely fictional?
     I’ve had a number of people surprised to find that Aribert Heim (the villain in “The Time Hunters and the Spear of Fate”) was an actual Nazi Doctor.

Are you afraid that your books might be seen as an attempt to rewrite history?
     Not at all. They do rewrite history, but it’s all within the confines of a fictional world that I created. I did, however, have one reader upset with me for saying that Florence Nightingale was a “devilishly good poker player.” The reader argued I had no proof of it. My argument was there was no proof she wasn’t either.

Who is your favorite character so far in the “Time Hunters” series?
     It’s something of a cliché, but I love writing all my main characters – Becky, Joe, Will and Uncle Percy. As for secondary characters, well, I do have a soft spot for the pirate crew of The Black Head in “The Time Hunters and the Box of Eternity.” Most readers seem to like the character of Edgar, the vegetarian Minotaur, in Book 1 and 3, and frankly, so do I.

Is there a chance “The Time Hunters” will continue beyond the five books you had originally planned?
     There is a slim chance. I’ll be starting another series as soon as the TH saga is complete, but I’d never say never. I’ve given myself such a very rich, diverse fictional world to explore, it would be foolish to rule out the possibility of revisiting it one day.

Have you written any other books besides “The Time Hunters?”
     Yes, “The Night they Nicked Saint Nick” and “Bernard and the Bibble.” Both books are for a younger audience. I’ve said it many times, but despite the success of the TH books, I know that “Bernard and the Bibble” is the most important book I shall ever write. I began writing it two days after my dad’s funeral, and finished it exactly a month later. In it, there’s a chapter called “The Pool of Angels” where the young hero, Bernard (named after my dad), has a conversation with his late-grandfather. It was my way of talking to my dad again. Writing that book helped me (in a small way) to deal with my own grief.

What made you decide to write books for young adults?
     I think children’s/YA literature is amongst the most exciting and intelligent work out there at the moment. In an adult book market saturated with celebrity books, 50 Shades rip-offs, formulaic adventure books, clichéd rom-coms etc., I find many children’s/YA books more inventive, challenging and stimulating than many so-called adult books.
     Within “The Time Hunters” series I explore such complex themes as death, grief, loss, loyalty, identity and faith, but cloak it in a rip-roaring adventure.

Do you have any plans to eventually write a book for grown-ups?
     In many ways I do write for grown-ups. Due to the nature of the Kindle (by far my best-selling platform) the vast majority of my readers are adults, and their feedback has been immensely positive. I set out to write a “crossover” series, one that would appeal to adults as well as children, and I hope I’ve achieved that. I really don’t have any ambitions to write any other type of book at the moment. I love my genre.
     After the TH saga is complete, I will be starting “Zak Fisher and the Angel Prophecy,” a series that exists within the same world as “The Time Hunters.” There is no time travel, but there will be ties to the TH books. In fact, there’s a minor character sitting in The Magpie Inn in “The Time Hunters and the Box of Eternity” that plays a major role in the Zak Fisher books, and Zak himself is even mentioned by Uncle Percy in the same chapter.
     Whatever their age, I have some of the best and most loyal fans any independent writer could wish for, and although I may not have the multitude of followers of JK Rowling or Rick Riordan, I can’t thank my readers enough for their loyalty and enthusiasm.
     Bottom line is that I’m really enjoying what I do. And that’s what matters to me. In fact, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Friday, April 26, 2013

More Photo Evidence Discovered

After posting the photos of the mysterious green VW campervan at various historical events, a friend in the time travel group on Goodreads sent me two additional photos that appear to be the same campervan.  The photos come from Rysa Walker, author of the twisty time travel novel "Time's Twisted Arrow," which is the first book in the series known as "The Chronos Files."  She included the following note:

I've been working on Book Two of CHRONOS, "Pendulum Past," this week and Kate [the main character of the CHRONOS series] spotted a green VW Bus during her recent jump back to Dallas, 1963. It was in this big dirt parking lot right behind the pergola atop a grassy knoll, about a block away from the Texas Schoolbook Depository. She didn't think anything of it at the time, since she was looking for a powder-blue Ford Fairlane. Maybe she should have peeked in the windows as she passed by... 

The VW campervan is circled in green while the Ford Fairlane is circled in blue. She noted that a conspiracy theorist who lacked the advantage of time-travel marked all over this picture.  Anyway, here is the photo she provided:

The second photo is also from Rysa Walker and shows the same mysterious green campervan at what appears to be an outdoor VW campervan convention.  Perhaps it is a gathering a time travelers.  The vehicle in question is circled in green and is located in the third row from the bottom near the center.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Time Hunters Exposed in Historical Photos

I was looking at some historical photographs online the other day when I noticed that a familiar green VW Campervan kept showing up in the background.  Could this be the time travel machine used by Uncle Percy and his time traveling companions as documented in the "Time Hunters" series by Carl Ashmore?  I have decided to include a few of the photos here so you can decide for yourself.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Must-See Sites for the Serious Time Traveler

While surfing the nether regions of the internet, I came across two very interesting websites for those like myself who are obsessed with time travel. The first site I cannot take credit for discovering. It was first brought to my attention several months ago through the time travel group on Goodreads, and I only recently came upon it again. Known as the Online Time Travel Mart (, this site offers up a variety of knick knacks and well as necessities for the wayward time traveler.

Need a centurion helmet for your trip to Rome in the first century BCE? They have one for the low, low price of $129.99 plus shipping. While you’re at it, grab a special calendar for just $14.99 that will find the day of the week for any date up to 50 years from now—a must for any serious time traveler. Other items include a "Time Travel Mart" tag for your luggage ($3.99), a solar energy kit to power your electronic devices in the past ($17.99), and a can of Mammoth Chunks in a tasty tomato base ($14.99).

But as we all know, time travel has not been invented… yet. No problem. At The Time Travel Fund ( you can pay now for a trip to the future once time travel has become affordable enough for the average Joe Blow. Here’s how it works:

Your small fee of just $10 in "The Time Travel Fund" will be invested for 500 years.  You should know that a portion of your fee goes to cover overhead for maintaining the website, while the rest is invested with everyone else’s fees. So how much of your money is actually invested? Well even if it's just one dollar, your money will grow exponentially. Assuming a conservative return of five percent after taxes, your investment will grow to a little more than $39 billion in five centuries giving you enough money left over to live comfortably in the future for many years to come (according to the website).

But how do you get to the future? Well, in 500 years someone will travel back in time and retrieve all of the investors to bring them forward into a future when time travel is actually possible. To make it official, each investor receives a signed certificate on acid-free paper that is "suitable for framing." Just make sure you specify in your will that the trustees at "The Time Travel Fund" are notified about the date of your death so that the future trustees will know how far back they need to travel to find you still alive.

Don’t believe me? Check out this picture of those who have already invested, proudly displaying their official certificates. As crazy as this whole idea sounds, I'm actually thinking about sending in my $10. I mean, why not? Ten dollars is just pocket change which can buy me a chance (however slim) of jumping ahead to a future where time travel is possible. Who is with me?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Funny Time Travel Moments on TV - #3

The Holy Grail of Time Travel Theories

Last week I was browsing the message boards for the time travel group on Goodreads, and someone made a reference to something called the "bootstrap paradox." Now I’m very familiar with the "grandfather paradox" which questions whether someone can travel back in time and kill his or her ancestor if in doing so the time traveler wipes out his or her own existence and could therefore never have traveled back in time to begin with. So how is it that I had never heard about this other perplexing paradox of time travel? After all, I’ve been a time travel fanatic since I was in junior high school so many decades ago.

I decided to do a quick internet search, and it turns out the "bootstrap paradox" is not as foreign to me as I first thought. I just never knew that it had a name. In a nutshell, this paradox poses the question of whether an object can exist without having ever been created. For example, a time traveler goes to the past and leaves an object or information that is carried forward to the present and becomes the very object/information that was initially brought back in time in the first place.

SPOILER ALERT!!! One of my favorite examples of this is found in the book “The Anubis Gates” by Tim Powers in which the time traveler (who has extensively studied the writings of a poet by the name of William Ashbless) hopes to meet the poet that he has so long admired only to become Ashbless himself. Once he settles into his new identity, he goes on to write his famous poems from memory. To which the frustrated reader asks, "Who wrote the bloody poems to begin with?"

Personally, I’m not a big fan of either of the aforementioned time travel paradoxes even though I have read several books or watched movies/television shows in which these paradoxes were incorporated in a way that was not only plausible but also mind-blowingly entertaining. In the course of my recent studies I came across yet another theory that perfectly encapsulates my own ideas of time travel. It’s as if I have discovered the Holy Grail of time travel ideologies. It is called the "Novikov self-consistency principle," and it goes like this:

"The only possible time lines are those that are entirely self-consistent. Therefore, anything that a time traveler does in the past must have been part of history all along, and the time traveler can never do anything to prevent the trip back in time from happening, since this would represent an inconsistency." [Wikipedia]

Eureka! I don’t know who this Novikov is, but he is a genius. I finally feel strangely validated, knowing that there are others out there that think the same way I do. Does this make me a Novikovian, or just an extreme geek? It doesn’t matter because now I have a decades-old theory from a Russian physicist to aid me as I seek to eradicate the faulty paradoxes that plague time travel literature. Let the battle begin!