Sunday, June 26, 2016

Choosing Characters for Choosing One Moment – A Time Travel Mystery



by Marja McGraw

Jean asked me what inspired the personalities in the book, and this is the short version.

One of my favorite authors, Dorothy Bodoin, and I discussed that we’d both like to try our skills on a time travel book. Further inspired by two songs, Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce, and That Sunday, That Summer as sung by Natalie Cole, I took a step out in faith. I could do this, or at least I’d try my best to write a time travel story.

I thought about people I know and how they might react to life if they lived in another time period; specifically, 1909. Honestly, I have no idea what led me to choose that year. I remembered older people I’ve known throughout my life. They loved to share stories about growing up in an earlier era. Somehow it all came together.

The main character in Choosing One Moment is Carrie McFerrin. I had to give her a lot of thought and determined she must be a mystery writer whose skills someone wanted to put to use. There had to be a purpose for her time travel. Is she based on me? Not at all. Well, she is a bit clumsy, and that’s a trait we share.

She traveled to 1909 as the request of her great-aunt Genny, who’d traveled before her. I might add that Carrie didn’t travel willingly. Genny reminds me a bit of my own aunt.

My husband inspired more than one character because of the many sides to his personality (the good guys). Inspired is the key word. The world needs good men, and he was one of them.


The book includes an aged woman called Mother Possum. When I was a child there was a woman in her nineties who was called Mother Possum, and I’ve never forgotten her. The name alone made her fodder for a character. And, yes, her surname was actually Possum.

I could go through character by character, but that would be too time-consuming. In my other mysteries, the people are purely fictional, for the most part. I can’t explain it, but this time travel story felt more personal. It begged for personalities that I’m familiar with and people who have played a role in my life.

Yes, the characters are fictional, but they’re inspired by the best, and the worst (don’t forget the bad guys). And remember, there’s a killer on the loose in the fictional town of Little Creek.

One last thought, and that’s that an old crank phone hangs in my guest room. It was begging to be in a story. I couldn’t resist. It’s a link to the past.

Jean also asked about research for the story. As I mentioned, I grew up hearing stories related by elderly people. Those led me to read old newspaper articles, books about the time period, research (and images) of clothing in and around 1909, and anything else I could lay my hands on. The fact that people from that time period didn’t have the amenities we have today played a large part, too. Can you imagine what they might think if they saw today’s appliances, cell phones, cars or jetliners? What about a microwave oven or a dishwasher? A man on the moon? They’d probably laugh at at that idea.

Ah, the differences are too many to think about. If we traveled in time, imagine what it would be like to suddenly have things that we take for granted disappear from our lives.

Thank you, Jean, for allowing me to give a little background on Choosing One Moment – A Time Travel Mystery. It was an experience I enjoyed, and I think readers will, too.

About the story:

Mystery writer Carrie McFerrin has inherited an old family house and all of its contents from her Great Aunt Genny.

While taking inventory of the attic contents, she comes across an old wooden crank telephone. Thinking the old phone would look perfect in her vintage kitchen, she hangs it on the wall by the back door, and an old, yellowed piece of paper asking for help falls to the floor.

The impossible happens when the disconnected old phone rings – three rings, a pause, and three more rings.

Carrie picks up the receiver, wondering what’s going on, and her life suddenly changes – forever.

Nothing will ever be the same.

Author Bio:

My friend Marja McGraw was born and raised in Southern California. She worked in both civil and criminal law, state transportation, and a city building department.  She has lived and worked in California, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska and Arizona.

She wrote a weekly column for a small town newspaper in Northern Nevada, and conducted a Writers’ Support Group in Northern Arizona. A past member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), she was also the Editor for the SinC-Internet Newsletter for a year and a half.

Marja writes two mystery series: The Sandi Webster Mysteries and The Bogey Man Mysteries, which are light reading with a touch of humor. She also occasionally writes stories that aren’t part of a series.

Marja says that each of her mysteries contains a little humor, a little romance and A Little Murder!

She now lives in Washington, where life is good.






17 comments:

jrlindermuth said...

Reading it now.

Patricia Gligor said...

Well, I'm glad you gave time travel a shot. I absolutely loved the book! As I read (and tried to solve the mystery), I was transported back in time. Great book!

Evelyn Cullet said...

I loved reading Choosing One Moment. I don't usually read time travel novels, but his one just reached out from the past and touched me. It was so well-written. Hope to see more of this genre of mystery written by you in the future.

Linda Thorne said...

You are getting around on posts. Enjoy your story about how you book ideas came about. I know I've said it before, but I love the book cover. Also the time you chose to go back to would be a very interesting to me.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Marja,
I loved reading how real characters worked their way into your latest mystery. Sounds very intriguing. Looking forward to reading it.
Marilyn

Nancy Lynn Jarvis said...

I just finished Outlander (years after everyone read it) and enjoyed it but discovered the tidy mystery writer in me had some issues with the messiness of time travel. It should be fun to read a time travel meets serious mystery writer book.

Jean Henry Mead said...

I enjoyed your book, Marja, and it's a pleasure to have you visit Mysterious Writers again.

Marja said...

I couldn't see where to leave replies, so here's thanks to all of you!

John, I sincerely hope you enjoy the book.

Patricia, Thank you so much! I'm glad it took you back in time.

Evelyn, Thank you! I'm not sure if I'll do more time travel or not, but it's a possibility.

Linda, Thank you! I did the book cover myself, so I'm flattered that you liked it.

Marilyn, Well, real people aren't in the book, but many of their characteristics are. Like I said, it make it more personal.

Nancy, This time travel might not be what your expecting. It's more mystery than time travel, and it's light reading with a touch of humor. I think you'd like it.

Jean, Again, thank you for having me here. I enjoy your blog sites very much!

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Marja. It's always a pleasure to have you here. I look forward to more of your books, whether time travel or mysteries (or both).

Palmaltas said...

Loved the book, Marja, and loved your in depth explanations here.

Marja said...

Thank you, Jean! I hear you have some new books in the works, too. Looking forward to a good read.

Pat, Thank you! We never know what will inspire characters.

Eileen Obser said...

I haven't read the book yet, Marja, but I will. This is a great explanation for how your characters came together in the book. I always enjoy your blogs.

Karen Corum said...

Though I've never wanted to write Time Travel, you make it sound fascinating to research. I'll def check out your book.

Marja said...

Eileen, Thank you! I think you'll enjoy the book.

Karen, Thank you! I surprised myself by writing time travel. The research was actually fun to do, and I'm not a big research fan.

Maggie said...

Choosing One Moment sounds fascinating. Yet another addition to the TBR list.

Amy Reade said...

Hi Marja,

Another great post about where your ideas come from. I enjoyed the glimpse into your thinking. I'm always amazed at how fun research can be and how easy it is to get sucked right into it! It sounds like you thoroughly enjoyed the experience of writing time travel. I look forward to reading the book. Congratulations!

Marja said...

Thank you, Maggie! I think it's a fun story.

Thank you, Amy! Not all research is fun, but this certainly was. I hope you enjoy the story.