Interview with Christine Potter, author of YA fantasy time travel The After Times
Say you’re Gracie Ingraham, nerdy but happy high school senior. But you’re also a time-traveler from 1962 who got a bit lost and has been living in the 2000’s since 2018. That would be plenty without it now being 2020. Covid has just shut down the world. Your pandemic pod? Your BFF Zoey—and your ex-boyfriend, Dylan.
Dylan still lives to spin weird vinyl LP’s with your sort-of, kind-of Dad, Amp. So your quarantine hobby is going to have to be Being Mature About Stuff.
But then your time traveling kicks into high gear again. And your long-lost brother and mom mix it up with a creepy, pyromaniacal force that is most likely demonic. How can love save the day when you can’t even go downtown without wearing a mask?
Excerpt from The After Times
We’d arrived at the first of the big, fancy gravesites: nineteenth century family plots, with tall, marble obelisks and statues of weeping angels. Some of them have creepy stone and marble mausoleums. Mausoleums are tombs the size of tiny houses with windows and even gates and front porches sometimes. You could go inside one if someone unlocked the door.
Some kids had obviously partied out by the mausoleums the night before. They’d left a White Claw can one at of the sad angels’ feet. A few more cans were tossed on the ground and on the stone stairs to one of the bigger tombs. There were beer cans, too.
Zoey shook her head. “Some people are still getting out at night.”
“They could have at least recycled!”
See, Zoey, Dylan, and me… We’re the kind teachers and parents don’t worry about. We always recycle. We don’t break quarantine. We wouldn’t have gone to a midnight graveyard party before quarantine … well … not without seriously good reason.
Not that Zoey wouldn’t snag a White Claw. And I did sneak out on one serious midnight date when Dylan and I were first together. But I also had to zap a demon that evening. Which was the last time anything interesting happened to me… Up until the very next minute, that is.
‘Cause then it wasn’t a pretty April day anymore. It was very cold and very dark. Zoey and I were still in the cemetery, but we weren’t by ourselves anymore.
An Interview with Christine Potter
-What inspired you to become a writer?
I have always written. Pretty much from the time I was seven years old, I was writing poems and stories, and sometimes stapling them together into books. I loved reading, too, as a kid—loved the way you could sprawl on the couch with a book and disappear into it. Some books carried a glow with them. Even if school had been deadly boring and my folks had been fighting (and they were unhappy together), if I’d just read a good book, it all seemed kind of bearable. I read Nancy Drew books and biographies as a little girl, and learned my first chops there. I remember picking out language that really fired my imagination early on. I’m smiling now, remembering ending a chapter in something grand and important I was trying to write when I was maybe ten with these words: “darkness loomed before them.” I loved the verb! “Loomed” just sounded so mysterious and creepy, even though I wasn’t entirely positive what it meant.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
Oh, gee. This last book, The After Times, is the conclusion to the five-book Bean series. It’s set in the early weeks of the pandemic, when people were bleaching their groceries and were afraid to stick their noses out the door. I think I’d tell my characters that the world wasn’t really ending, but they should dig in for the long haul. I’d want to have a drink with my grown-up characters, the ones that grew up with the series, and see who they really were. They started out as recollections of dear friends from high school and college. I’d want to thank Bean Donohue—the star of the whole series—for charging up my imagination so much that she managed to take on real life and give me all those stories to write. And Amp—I’d just want to give him a hug. He’s based on someone I did college radio with, and he came alive, too. I’d want to listen to Live Dead with Zak and tell Grace Ingraham to keep on keepin’ on.
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
I really have two protagonists. Bean Donohue is the heroine of the first three books, and the heroine of the second two is Grace Ingraham—although Bean is still central as a mentor, a time-traveling Guide. I think Grace would tell me that although she really loves her boyfriend Dylan, she’s nervous about going to the same college as him in the fall, and worried that maybe college won’t be in person yet. Book Five, The After Times, is set in spring of 2020. Grace is a time-traveler from 1962 and she always feels a little like an outsider.
If it were 2 AM Bean, Well…I’m going to have to be very careful not to write any spoilers into this answer. She’d be psyched about the amazing turn her life had just taken. But she’d be worried about getting sick, or having the love of her life, Zak, get sick. She’d try to be cool about it—she always does—but she’d be worried. Again—spring 2020.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with? I’d like to go out for drinks with the characters who are elders in the series by the time the last two books happen. Claire and Amp love to give dinner parties, so we’d probably meet at their place instead of going out. They live in a pretty old stone building on the grounds of an equally lovely church. And Bean and Zak would be there, too. Claire reads old bar books and makes a mean mixed drink. Even as a college student in the first books, she’s a great hostess.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
I have always been a lover, not a fighter. I’d see if I could calm the dwarf with an Aviation, which I would quickly tell the bartender how to make, if she didn’t know. (One part gin, one half part fresh lemon juice, about a quarter of a part maraschino liqueur, dash of crème de violette, brandied cherry. Shaken hard, served up in a coupe.) The drink would knock that dwarf right down, and he wouldn’t want to fight me anymore.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I could pull off a cozy mystery, but I couldn’t write noir detective stories. I have a rough time with violence, especially gun violence. Of course, there are some guns in the Bean Books, but when it comes to actual fighting, the weapons are much more likely to be fists—or a few times, the well-placed knee.
About Christine Potter
Christine Potter is a writer and poet who lives in a (for-real) haunted house in New York’s Hudson River Valley, not that far from Sleepy Hollow. She is the author of Evernight Teen’s Bean Books, a five book series that travels through time—and two generations of characters. Christine is has also been a teacher, a bell ringer in the towers of old churches, a DJ, and a singer of all kinds of music. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines like Rattle and Kestrel, featured on ABC Radio News, and sold in gum ball machines. She lives with her organist husband Ken and two indulged kitties.
Christine Potter will be awarding $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.