The moment he leaned in, I closed my eyes. His lips, soft and full, touched mine with the modest pressure of an indecisive act. A warm energy coursed through my body, but the strangest thing was that everything felt unbelievably familiar, like it had all been rehearsed before that moment. I held onto this profound feeling, not wanting it to leave, until Ben removed his lips from mine.
Even with the whistled melodies from a pair of cardinals outside the church's entrance, the following silence felt awkward. It persisted, and I assumed Ben was already regretting kissing me.
I brought up a hand and covered his mouth. "It's okay."
We walked down the hill without saying another word. A lot of activity was happening on Main Street: coaches lined the front of the Royal Hotel as travelers zipped in and out of the main entrance; horse carts delivered goods in dashes of haste; store merchants hurried beyond their open doors; street sellers sold goods out of baskets; helpers swept the boardwalk; ladies could be seen purchasing last minute necessities behind the windows of each shop.
Ben accompanied me up the stairs of Town Hall's entrance and stopped on the landing before we reached the front door. I peered through the window. Martha arranged long-stemmed flowers in a vase on a table at the side of the ballroom. A young man placed a candelabra on a table and then another on top of a piano. Ben had already started back to the street when I turned. He waved. I waved back. Still a chance he'll change his mind.
The gloves were easier to remove now that one was missing its button. I placed them, and the button, on the ledge of the window and took off the ring.
Jess was still sitting on my bed when the haze cleared, but her tapping fingers had moved from her chin, which now rested on her knuckles. It was obvious it had taken longer for me to return this time. It made sense to me right then that the ring held within it a finite amount of energy with which to transport me to the past and back home, like a battery depleting its energy with each use. And, I had no idea how to recharge it.
Nancy Thorne is an award-winning author inspired by the romance and courage of youth. Her debut novel VICTORIAN TOWN won First Place for the 2019 Dante Rossetti Award.
Nancy's short stories have recently appeared in literary journals and magazines, including The First Line Literary Journal, The Blake-Jones Review, Edify Fiction, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Born and raised in Toronto, Nancy fostered a passion for creating stories in grade school but hid it much too well. Eight years ago she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of telling them.
Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America and Toronto Romance Writers. She lives with her family just outside of Toronto along with an energetic labrador and entertaining corgi.
DO YOU EVER WISH YOU WERE SOMEONE ELSE? When I was younger I never wished to be someone else, but always wanted to be a better version of how I saw myself, whether it was my appearance or how much I knew. Now that I'm older, I sometimes think it would be a great thing to go back in time to my younger self to tell her she's fine just the way she is.
WHAT PART OF THE WRITING PROCESS DO YOU DREAD? I consider myself to be a slow, calculating type of writer. So, when I begin a story it seems the most difficult time for me because it takes me a while to get into the flow of the story. As I continue, the characters evolve into their own personalities and the writing then becomes easier.
TELL US ABOUT VICTORIAN TOWN VICTORIAN TOWN is a young adult paranormal romance novel. It's about a troubled seventeen-year-old girl who breaks into a tourist attraction. She comes in contact there with a spirit from the 19th century who drags her back in time, although she is able to return to the present at will. She eventually comes to realize she's been summoned to the past to solve a mystery, and that her actions could end up changing the lives of everyone she loves.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING? The short answer is since grade school. The longer answer is I've seriously been writing for eight years. I spent decades trying to convince myself that just because I thought in my heart that I was a writer, it didn't necessarily mean I was one. Through many years I listened to people say that they wanted to write a book, but none of them ever did. So, I kept dismissing my own yearnings. But they were like itches I could never scratch away.
WAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW WRITER STARTING OUT? To not give up. To know going in that it takes time to hone your writing skills. Learn from other writers who have the experience you still need, whether by joining a writing group or attending lectures or researching the Internet. If you can, get some feedback from others who aren't in your family. There are editors who may be starting out who can give you feedback and critique your work. Be patient, keep writing and know you will feel less than others, especially at the beginning of your writing journey. Don't compare yourself to anyone but who you were last week, or the week before, as you learn. All writers have to go through these times.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT VICTORIAN TOWN THAT IS NOT IN THE BLURB. The main character, Abby, has a best friend - her only best friend since grade school. A big part of my book is her relationship with this friend, Jessica. Neither of them want to live without the other.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD AN IMAGINARY FRIEND? When I was in grade school, I felt comforted by small porcelain animal figures of mine that I'd take to school with me, hidden in a pocket. Throughout the day, I'd comfort the figurine which was actually comforting myself. I'd tell the cat or rabbit or dot that it was only a few minutes until recess or lunchtime. I made sure they knew they were cared for.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PHOBIAS? I don't like taxidermy heads of animals, so I try and pretend they don’t exist if I happen to be in a restaurant that has stuffed moose heads, etc. on the walls.
DO YOU EVER READ YOUR STORIES OUT LOUD? I can honestly say that I don't though I've heard that it's a good idea. I don't read my stories out loud because it wouldn't sound like my character - and it doesn't seem right for me to give a character my voice when they already have their own.
TELL US ABOUT YOU MAIN CHARACTER AND WHO INSPIRED HIM/HER When I was a teenager I was inspired by many things and many friends. A vital part of me seemed to remain in the past. So, my main character’s personality bubbled to the surface easily, as most of my young characters do. They inspire me because I've never truly discarded them in my mind.
ANY WEIRD THINGS YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE ALONE? I talk to my dog in weird ways. Sometimes my voice is high-pitched; sometimes I growl at him and call him silly nicknames like he's a baby. Like I said, it's weird.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE QUOTE AND WHY? My favourite quote is: "I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul", from the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. William was only in his twenties in 1875 when he wrote the poem. He was in the hospital with severe health problems, yet he showed tremendous courage in his poems.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY? I have to say Ernest Hemingway, only because the first adult book I ever read was "The Old Man and the Sea" that he wrote. I was quite young and the book affected me in an emotional way. I also have to say that in the past few years I've fallen in love with Anton Chekhov, the famous 19th century author. My husband doesn't seem too concerned.
WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF GOOD WRITING? There are technical aspects and there are emotional elements. But I'd have to say the most important element for me is the reactions of my characters. I try to make sure they act an honest manner, true to their unique personalities and emotions.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ICE CREAM FLAVOUR? Chocolate. Or maybe butterscotch swirl. Or maybe orange sherbert.
WHICH MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURE DO YOU LIKE BEST? Easy. Pegasus. I've been a horse lover forever. Going horseback riding as a pre-teen and then teenager was my favourite activity.
HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR PLOT AND CHARACTERS? The characters and their situations come to me quickly. The story always involves some aspect of what I've experienced in my life. The plot comes next after I mull around different scenarios in my head and get inside my characters’ heads.
DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING SPACE I have a writing room on the second floor of my home. It's a small room, but perfect to write in. The uncanny thing is that my family and I moved into the house twenty years ago, when I was still stuffing down my feelings of being a writer. But this particular room was already decorated with wallpaper consisting of rows upon rows of realistic looking books on one wall. It was like the universe was trying to get me to finally “get in there and get writing!”
WHAT ARE THINGS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT? My two sons, my husband, my dogs, food and water.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TELEVISION SHOW? I prefer to read, but I'd have to say my favourite shows are on Netflix and On Demand. I don't like waiting for commercials to finish.
WHAT HAVE YOU COMING OUT FOR US TO LOOK OUT FOR? I have been working on a young adult novel set in 1971. It's about a Canadian teenage girl who meets up with a U.S. draft dodger. It comes out this May, 2021 and is calledThe Somewhere I See You Again.
WHAT'S THE SWEETEST THING SOMEONE HAS DONE FOR YOU? When I was around ten years old, a gentleman accidently ran over my cat on the street in front of my childhood house. He came to our door and offered to get me a new kitten. I remember crying and screaming at him. I only wanted my cat, Charlie, back. He was such a nice man. He could have simply driven off, but he didn't.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR BEST IDEAS? Sometimes ideas come to me when I'm in bed trying to get to sleep. Others I've held in my brain for a long time, especially things that bothered me when I was growing up.
WHAT DOES YOUR MAIN CHARACTER DO THAT MAKES HIM/HER SPECIAL? Abby is an old soul, so to speak. She's beyond her years in how she thinks. And she wants to be a hero.
IF WE WERE TO COME TO YOUR HOUSE FOR A MEAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I should say pasta because I'm half Italian, but it would probably be something my husband barbecued, with different salads made by me. We would sit in my backyard by the pool and talk. I love to hear about peoples’ lives. Everyone has a story in them.
WHAT WOULD WE FIND UNDER YOUR BED? Dust and dog fur, probably. I’m afraid to look.
WHAT WAS THE SCARIEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE? When I was around fourteen, I was almost snatched off the street by a couple of young men who jumped out of their car and tried to grab me. My girlfriend was too frightened to do anything to help me, so I plunged my entire body to the sidewalk while I kicked and screamed. I guess they didn't want to deal with me because they got back in their car and took off.
WHAT GROUP DID YOU HANG OUT WITH IN HIGH SCHOOL? I was in two groups in high school - one I referred to as my gang with six guys and six girls, and the other was a group of girls I was in as part of an all girl band.
WHAT ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT THESE DAYS? I'm passionate about my family. I'm passionate about what's going on in the world. I'm passionate about my writing. I'm passionate about anyone who picks up my book and decides to read it.
IF YOU HAD TO DO YOUR JOURNEY TO GETTING PUBLISHED AGAIN, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY? I would try to not feel so heartbroken at each rejection.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SCENE IN THIS BOOK? My favorite scene in Victorian Town is at the end, when Abby narrates from the graveyard. She's still struggling to make sense of everything, when not everything can be made sense of.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE PARANORMAL ABILITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE? To travel back in time. I'd love to see my dad again, and again, and again.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOUR READERS WOULD BE MOST SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU? My age. I started writing after my boys were grown, so I'm older than many young adult authors. But the good thing is, a vital part of me never moved on from my teenage years. I've always been aware of this.
WHEN WRITING DESCRIPTIONS OF YOUR HEROINE, WHAT FEATURE DO YOU START WITH? I start with his or her attitude. How badass or passive are they? How confident or vulnerable? How persuasive or gullible? How serious or funny? How damaged?
ARE YOU A PLOTTER OR A PANSTER? Hmmm. Both at times. I start with the characters and some sort of plot then let the characters evolve. Sometimes they decide to change an aspect of the plot or take the story in a different direction although my general vision remains.
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM WRITING THIS BOOK? IF SO, WHAT? I learned a lot about the 19th century.
IF YOU COULD APOLIGIZE TO SOMEONE IN YOUR PAST, WHO WOULD IT BE? My best friend. When I was a teenager, I hitchhiked with her across Canada for two summers. I eventually chose my boyfriend over her. A terrible mistake.
IF YOU COULD KEEP A PARANORMAL CREATURE AS A PET, WHAT WOULD IT BE? A creature small enough to fit into my pocket. I'd take it everywhere with me, as long as it didn't bite.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR WRITING DIFFERENT FROM ALL THE OTHERS THAT WRITE IN THIS PARTICULAR GENRE? I think because I'm older than a lot of YA authors, my writing naturally comes out in a unique way. I've had different experiences in different time spans.
ARE THE EXPERIENCES IN THIS BOOK BASE ON SOMEONE YOU KNOW, OR EVENTS IN YOUR OWN LIFE? I'm not the kind of author who can make up entire worlds and inhabitants like a fantasy writer. In everything I write, my experiences in my own life are interwoven somewhere in the story.
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