Sunday, August 17, 2014

Whisper Falls question - Why 2016?

Why did you set the book in 2016?

In the Whisper Falls series, the waterfall requires that the calendar date must be the same in either century. When Mark and Susanna meet, it is May 30th in Susanna's world and in Mark's world. Over the course of the series, Whisper Falls allows the year to change in the past, but the date must always be the same.

The day of the week is also important, especially in Susanna's world. Her weekly schedule was fairly rigid. Wednesday is baking day. Sunday is the Sabbath. As I wrote the first book, I had to stay aware of the weekday, for Susanna's sake.

Because I had to remain conscious of dates and weekdays, I decided it would just be easier if Mark had the same calendar as Susanna. I looked in wikipedia for a modern year whose calendar matched 1796.

As it turns out, 1796 was a leap-year that started on a Friday. That leap-year part narrowed the options dramatically. For the 21st century, my choices were 2016 or 2044. So, 2016 won!

Setting the modern-year of the book ahead did require some additional care as I wrote. Technology is changing constantly. Would we still have "smart-phones" in 2016? Would the NC legislature make new laws for how schools operated? Might a fire or catastrophic weather event alter Raleigh or Umstead Park?

I was willing to take those risks.

Now that I've written the other two books, I'm really glad I made the decision to have a matched calendar for book one.  For the later two books, I had many years to juggle. Book 2 is still in 2016, but the past includes 1796 through 1801. Book 3 takes place in 2017 while the past includes 1801 through 1805. It was difficult to keep up with multiple sets of weekdays/calendars for Books 2 & 3.

For instance, in book three, I had to rewrite a large portion of the middle of the book when I realized that I'd set Mark's prom on a major religious holiday in 2017--all because I was paying attention to the weekday in the past and not the weekday in the present.

So there you go. The simple answer is: it made book one easier to write.

[I often get questions about the Whisper Falls series.  I'll answer each of the most commonly asked questions in a separate blog post. You can navigate to them in the faq on my website too.]

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