>Today on Books and Adventures we’re joined by my friend Claire Dopson, writer of the children’s adventure Time Travelogix.
Back in the day, as teenagers, she and I fought crime and battled evil on the mean streets of Warwickshire, but now Claire is London-based, with a sensible job and a passion for children’s fiction.
Claire started writing seriously while studying French at university. ‘I used to want to be an artist, but actually writing fits in much more easily with everyday life, so it’s good I changed my mind!’
After travelling, teaching and general adventuring around the world, Claire set her mind to writing an adventure story of the kind she loved to read. ‘I started something dreadful, which has now ended up as a short story (“I Know What You’re Thinking”). I abandoned that and a couple of years later, I began Time Travelogix.’
Claire’s novel sees Ixian, a 24th-century schoolboy, blasted into Victorian times after foiling a an attempt to steal the mysterious ‘Infinity Triangle’. Ixian struggles to cope without the labour-saving gadgets he’s used to, but he has an ally in Ruby Swift, a pickpocket from the era in which he finds himself. Now Ixian must survive in Victorian London, escape the baddies and find his way back to his own time…
Claire explains that the novel was very different in its earlier drafts: ‘It started as an idea of doing some grail-type quest though time, which also dreadful because I had no idea how to write, but it gradually morphed into what it is now. Ruby used to be a boy and Ixian wasn’t from the future at all until about 2006.’
Claire found researching the Victorian settings for the novel much more challenging than creating a 24th century society – ‘Imaginary things are much easier to write about because no one can tell you it’s wrong’ – and she doesn’t envy Ixian his lot, trapped in the past: ‘I’m so dependent on my laptop. I write with it on the sofa – under a blanket in winter, minus the blanket in summer! I can’t begin to imagine how Dickens and co managed to write their novels by hand.’
Time Travelogix is the first part of a projected series, which required Claire to develop planning skills as a writer:
‘I just started writing Time Travelogix as it came to me, and spent years editing and perfecting as I went, which was a mistake because I ended up changing so much of it when I finally got to the end. So now I sketch enough of an outline so I know where it’s going, write loads of unedited rubbish based on this, then edit and polish afterwards (and abandon if the idea just isn’t working). Much more productive. The other 2 books are planned out, but I haven’t actually started writing them yet, as I want to see what happens to Time Travelogix first. I’m working on a completely separate novel now, and various short stories.’
Claire writes in the evening and on weekends, with a work ethic that puts some of us to shame! ‘I hate that feeling that you’ll never get anything published ever, ever, ever – but I’m always looking for that turning point in a project, when you realise that it’s not going to be rubbish and you can finish it.’
It’s time to let today’s guest crawl back under her writing blanket now, but to read some of Claire’s stories, including extracts from Time Travelogix, visit www.timetravelogix.com.