November 6 – December 1, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
RSVP to Murder by Carol Pouliot
Guest Post: The Challenges of Time Travel
Creating a series with protagonists who are normal, everyday people but who discover the ability to time travel has been challenging but lots of fun. How do they travel from one time to another? What are the rules? What happens if they break the rules? Do they confide in their friends? How do they pack for a few days in another time?
In the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, Depression-era cop Steven Blackwell and 21st-journalist Olivia Watson share the same house eighty years apart. He lives there in 1934, she in 2014. They know nothing about the other person until one night when time folds over and they see each other across a doorway.
Here was my first challenge: how to make this experience believable to the reader? I relied on Einstein and borrowed his theory that there is no past, present, or future; all time happens simultaneously; and time can fold over and reveal another time. Okay. That takes care of that. I mean, Einstein is a pretty reliable source, right?
Next, I felt it was important to ground the time travel in reality. The more normal everything else in Steven’s and Olivia’s lives is, the more normal the time travel will feel. An ordinary doorway in their house serves as the portal. When they first see each other, Steven and Olivia sit on the floor of “their side” to talk. Later, they discover the doorway allows them to pass into each other’s time as long as they are touching—they hold hands to guide each other into the different era.
Steven is a cop and spends his days in search of evidence. When he sees Olivia and she explains Einstein’s theories, he’s skeptical. He tells her he wants concrete proof, hard evidence to prove that she really lives in 2014. He thinks his fellow police officers and friends are playing a joke on him. I won’t spoil that scene when Steven and Olivia prove to each other that they are who they say they are. It’s one of my favorites and I want you to enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. (It’s in the first book Doorway to Murder.)
As the series progresses, Steven and Olivia take more and more risks, eventually leaving the house in the other person’s time and mixing with the community. Since Steven is always investigating a murder and needs to stay in 1934, and Olivia gave up working as a reporter and now owns her own business, her time is more flexible, so she’s the one that does most of the time traveling. This brought a whole new challenge.
Think about the last time you packed your overnight bag for a weekend getaway or your suitcase for a vacation. You wondered: What do I bring? What will I need? Are we going to do a lot of walking or hiking? Go swimming? Attend the theater and explore fancy restaurants? Take the kids, t-shirts, and jeans? What will the weather be like? Now, imagine that you’re packing to travel back in time to spend a few days. What do you take? What do you leave behind? How critical is it if you make a mistake?
Steven’s beloved mother recently passed away, and he hasn’t been able to face cleaning out her closets. Luckily, she and Olivia take the same size, and Steven offers the fantastic wardrobe to Olivia, who revels in the designer pieces and chic 1920s and early 1930s outfits. Steven cautions her to wear the same pieces over and over again because times are hard and most people don’t have as many clothes as his mother did.
Olivia has to remember to leave all of her 21st-century electronics behind—days without her phone are a challenge. She must get used to working on her writing projects using pencils, pens, and paper notebooks. She can’t take any pictures (no phone) to show her two best friends when she goes home. She googles hair and make-up trends to be sure she’ll blend in. And of course, she can’t bring any money. She and Steven spend considerable time working that out!
In RSVP to Murder, the latest release, Steven and Olivia undertake their most daring time-travel experiment so far. They travel one-hundred miles from home to an Adirondack Great Camp for a Christmas party. Their big question is: Will Olivia go to sleep in 1934 and still be there when she wakes up in the morning? Little do they know that their host will be murdered and the bigger question is: Can Steven and Olivia unmask the killer before he kills again?
A new twist on the 1930s English country house mystery.
Embarking on their most daring time-travel experiment to date, Depression-era cop Steven Blackwell and his 21st-century partner-in-crime Olivia Watson travel to the Adirondack Mountains for a Christmas party at one of the legendary Great Camps. Their host, a wealthy New York publisher, has planned a weekend filled with holiday activities, but, as the last guest arrives, temperatures plummet and a blizzard hits. Before long, the area is buried in snow, the roads are impassable, and the publisher is poisoned. Unwilling to wait until the local police can arrive, the victim’s widow convinces Steven to launch an unofficial investigation. Soon, a family member goes missing and Steven and Olivia discover a second victim. Trapped with a killer, Steven and Olivia race against the clock before the murderer strikes again.
Praise for RSVP to Murder:
“A classic holiday movie and Agatha Christie novel mashup” ~ Shawn Reilly Simmons, author of the Red Carpet Catering Mystery Series
“RSVP to Murder is Agatha Christie with a time-travel twist. Pouliot supplies us with just what we crave in a great locked-room mystery: a blizzard, closed roads, dead phone lines, roaring fires, and lots of suspects and motives—all set in a luxurious Adirondack Great Camp in 1934. Snap on your seatbelt and travel with Steven and Olivia, you’ll be happy you did!” ~ Tina deBellegarde, Author of The Batavia-on-Hudson Mystery Series.
“A Great Camp in the Adirondacks serves up a sumptuous setting of plump armchairs, roaring fireplaces, and the heady scent of Christmas pines—all begging to be settled into with this thumping good vintage whodunit set in the 1930s. Cleverly plotted with plot-twists aplenty and some time-travel to boot, this immersive mystery is a gem.” ~ Laurie Loewenstein, Author of the Dust Bowl Mystery Series
“Readers are invited to the glamour of the Thirties, where the rich are putting on the Ritz, until there’s a murder to solve. Join time-travelers Blackwell and Watson in a race to the Racines’ Adirondack Great Camp to catch a killer. A clever…and a thoroughly unique must for fans of the paranormal and historical. RSVP today!” ~ Gabriel Valjan, Author of the Shane Cleary Mysteries series
“The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries’ latest installment, RSVP to Murder, combines the thrilling and “timeless” aspects of Jack Finney’s classic TIME AND AGAIN mixed with the wit and charm of a modern, puzzling mystery. Highly recommended for all lovers of time travel, history, romance and wily sleuths.” ~ L.A. Chandlar, Best-selling author of the Art Deco Mystery Series
Book Details:Genre: Traditional mystery Published by: Level Best Books Publication Date: September 2023 Number of Pages: 305 ISBN: 9781685123857 Series: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, #4 Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
A former language teacher and business owner, Carol Pouliot writes the acclaimed Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries, traditional police procedurals with a seemingly impossible relationship between Depression-era cop Steven Blackwell and 21st-century journalist Olivia Watson. With their fast pace and unexpected twists and turns, the books have earned praise from readers and mystery authors alike.
Carol is a founding member of Sleuths and Sidekicks, Co-chair of the Murderous March Mystery Conference, and President of her Sisters in Crime chapter. When not writing, Carol can be found packing her suitcase and reaching for her passport for her next travel adventure. Learn more and sign up for Carol’s newsletter on her website: www.carolpouliot.com