Myth Agent by L.A. MacFadden Genre: Historical Time Travel, Science Fiction
It's 1945, soon after VJ Day. Odessa Shatto, an antiques dealer, is pierced in the side by a prehistoric bone. The next morning she awakens, horrified to see a hideous green slime creeping over her, hardening into a cocoon that quickly entombs her in darkness and leaves her fearing for her life. Each time it happens, she remembers feeling a sense of being thrown hard, as though from the hand of a giant. And the last time, she remembers her trajectory crossing with that of her fiancé, a soldier who has been injured in the Pacific in World War Two. They may think of their paths crossing as a gift, but in reality it will produce agonizing results.
Ruttledge Rosenbaugh, a professor of science devoted to his students at Hensley University, has spent years learning from his mentor, whose mantra was that time travelers are constantly around and unnoticed. But nothing Ruttledge has ever heard or read on time travel prepares him for what he witnesses in his secret laboratory in 1910. After recuperating from the ordeal, he spends years trying to prove the existence of time travel, while a jealous rogue from his past lies in wait, hoping to debunk any time travel theory the professor develops--no matter the cost.
Myth Agent is a time travel tale, woven of the fantastic, and interspersed with traces of historical fiction.
"No, he's not from Reinhart, but your arithmetic is off by a yardstick!" she frowned. "Thirteen years ago would make it 1932, not 1897!"
Rutt chuckled. "No, it was 1897," he began, but suddenly something Doctor Eyestone had said many times over the years sprang into his mind. 'If ever you believe you are in the presence of a time traveler,' he'd said, 'establish as quickly as possible from what date and location they have come! They may not know where and when they presently are, so inform them cautiously, so as not to cause panic. Who knows what the circumstances will be! You might lose your subject without warning, so note your observations as soon as possible for further study!' No, Rutt thought, it couldn't be—and yet a shiver went up his spine. He took a deep breath and ran a hand through his collar-length brown hair. "Do you mind if I ask you today's date?" he blurted.
The child pursed her lips for a moment. "Well, that's a silly question, but since my headache has subsided a bit I'll play along. It's October seventeenth, 1945. A great time, I'm sure you agree, with the hideous war finally over."
Rutt's heart skipped a beat. 'Cautiously, so as not to cause panic...' he repeated in his mind. Mustering a calm voice, he said, "It must be wonderful to have it done with."
"What do you mean—it must be? Isn't the war being over wonderful for everyone?"
"I...just meant..." he faltered, not sure what to say but suddenly deciding to speak the truth. "I knew nothing about it, but I imagine it is a great relief to have it over."
"How could you not know about it?" The little voice rose angrily. "Even if you somehow managed not to read about the horrors of war in Europe and the Pacific in the newspaper, everyone I know was affected by the shortages of gasoline and food! And there's probably a gold star in at least a dozen windows here in Sawsock!
L.A. MacFadden was born in Oregon in 1956 to parents who were fond of the great outdoors and instilled that appreciation in their five children. Her father was employed by the Boy Scouts of America in Oregon, Washington, and Montana, so she spent all of her youthful summers in Boy Scout camps her father directed. But because the programs of course weren't for girls, she and her three sisters spent a good deal of time reading books borrowed from the libraries of nearby towns. Those wonderful days of reading all those books-whether in the library, under the shady branches of trees, or in a tiny cabin, were responsible for her love of books, and no doubt led to her desire to become an author.
In 1975 she married her high school sweetheart, then a member of the United States Marine Corps. Later, they settled in western Oregon, near the beautiful Columbia River Gorge, where they enjoy spending time with their two grown children, grandchildren, and a host of extended family. L.A. MacFadden can often be found at home, working on her next book!
If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be? What would you do during that day?
I would be part of the paleontology dig Dr. Eyestone and Rutt went on, up on Bonberry Mountain—specifically the day Rutt found a huge bone while digging in a meadow. An old man suddenly appeared from a nearby forest and warned them that if they did not put the bone back in the earth, terrible evil would be visited on them! It would be frightening, but interesting at the same time to watch that scene play out!
Can you tell us a little bit about a few characters in Myth Agent?
The main male character, Ruttledge Rosenbaugh, was raised on a farm in Iowa, though he was never cut out to be a farmer. He goes on to become a scientist, and is just as soft-spoken and kind as an adult as he was as a child. He misses his family desperately when he attends a university out West that has awarded him a scholarship. When he becomes a professor of science at his alma mater, he does everything he can to help his students achieve success, and later, he renders as much aid as he can when he meets a desperate time traveler.
Odessa Shatto, the main female character, was raised on a ranch outside a small Montana town. Definitions of her first name—‘wandering’, ‘long journey’ and ‘quest’, suit her. An only child, she was raised to be strong and self-reliant. As she moves into town after high school, she gets a job and supports herself until she has the means to start her own business—an antique shop she names Odessa’s Quest. The fact that she’s still single when all of her friends are married does not detract from her pleasant personality. She’s proud of herself and her business, believes she will live out her life as a single woman, and will never need help from anybody.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Commuting to and from work on trains and buses, dealing with the public, communicating with people in person or otherwise—they’re all great opportunities to form character sketches. I have borrowed ideas that popped into my head from these occasions, but usually I just let my imagination run wild and it soon comes up with the characters I’m looking for.
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