Season Out of Time is a kind of love letter to the last part of my childhood. What were you doing around the time you turned twelve? Do you remember who your friends were, what you enjoyed, and how you felt about growing up? I was a June baby, so my birthdays always came right at the beginning of summer vacation. These are some things I remember about that time:
- Star Wars had just come out in theaters. We visited my cousins in Dallas and got to see it there. My cousins also took us to Six Flags. The Shockwave had just opened.
- I got a tape recorder and a Marvel Comics “origins” book called Bring On the Bad Guys that told the origin stories of supervillians like Dr. Doom, the Red Skull, the Abomination, the dread Dormammu, and Loki. I came up with my own radio dramas and recorded them on the recorder. I had a character called Hippie Harris that was always showing up at station WIZ to interrupt the program. “Hey, baby! This is Hippie Harris.”
- We visited my cousins in North Carolina. Their house was on a hill by a river, and it had a basement. Our parents took us to Brown Mountain where we saw the mysterious Brown Mountain lights. (The lights were featured on the X-Files a few years ago. The terrain in that episode was all wrong, but I appreciated the salute to Brown Mountain.)
- Our Saturday morning television line-up included shows like the Land of the Lost and Shazam! School House Rock educated us with animated shorts like “I’m Just a Bill,” “Conjunction Junction,” and “Three is a Magic Number.”
- Some of the prime time shows included the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries (with Parker Stevenson, Shaun Cassidy, and Pamela Sue Martin) and Charlie’s Angels. Two short-lived shows from that time period that I enjoyed were Tales of the Unexpected (even though it always ended wrong) and Fantastic Journey, a science fiction show about people who were trapped in the Bermuda Triangle. And how could I not mention The 6,000,000 Man and the Bionic Woman or the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman? Special effects have come a long way since then, but we loved our old shows anyway. I still wish they had let Steve and Jamie get married before the series ended. They finally did 15 years or so later in one of the movies, but it was sad to me that Steve had to wait so long for Jamie to remember him. (Does anybody else remember that? The bionic soap opera.)
That summer was a great way for childhood to end, but I wasn’t too sure about what was coming up. I worried about all of the childhood pleasures I would be expected to give up when I became an adult. Every time I went to a store, I went straight to the toy department. Where did adults go that was that much fun? Maybe I could still enjoy the books and records. Were adults allowed to read comic books?
I wrote Season Out of Time when I was struggling through my last year of doctoral courses at Louisiana Tech. I needed some happy thoughts long about then. The time period explains why it’s such a short book. It’s really more of a novella. A lot of people have read and enjoyed this one. A coworker’s friend read it to a sixth grade class, and I got to visit the group and answer questions. Younger readers like the story because it has younger characters, and people who remember the time period enjoy it as a trip down memory lane.
I’ve thought more about the psychology behind this book. Jim, the twelve-year-old lead character, is at the transition point between childhood and adulthood and really not wanting to grow up and leave the familiar joys of childhood behind. James, his adult counterpart, assures him that he won’t lose himself in the process. At the time I was writing, I was about to finish up coursework and leave a college environment and friends I had enjoyed. I didn’t know where I would live the following year or what was around the corner. I was also 27 and single and worried about that part of my future too. Season Out of Time was a way of working through all of that.
I’m not going to encourage you to go out and buy Season right this minute because I’m busy rewriting it. I rewrote all of my old books before I put them on CreateSpace and Kindle and Season Out of Time is the last of that original line-up to receive that treatment. I really liked the feeling of the first draft better than any of the later editions, so I’m trying to recapture the spirit of it in this version. I’ll try to have a Kindle edition ready for you when the new Star Wars comes out on December 13. We’ll see how that goes. Meanwhile, stay tuned.