Interview with Cristin Terrill + Giveaway

I am honored to have the author of one of my favorite books Cristin Terrill with me on the blog. Cristin’s debut, All Our Yesterdays, is part one of a two-book series focusing on time travel that will be released by Disney-Hyperion September 3rd. This book entranced and moved me from the first sentence.

Cristin Terrill       All Our Yesterdays

Time travel is an important aspect of  All Our Yesterdays. How did you decide on which scientific constructs you would adhere too?
I’m kind of an amateur physics geek, so figuring out how time travel would work in this book was really fun for me. Time travel is actually possible, even now, albeit in very limited ways. Brace for some geekery: Einstein’s theory of general relativity says that time slows for you if you’re moving extremely fast. If you take a plane trip from New York to Hong Kong, you will actually have aged slightly less than the people who have stayed stationary on Earth. This effect doesn’t become pronounced, though, unless you’re moving very fast, like near the speed of light. If a fifteen-year-old boy were to travel in a spaceship going 99.5% of the speed of light for five years, he would be twenty when he returned back to Earth but all of his former tenth-grade classmates would be sixty-five.

The basic premise of the time machine Cassandra is  based on Einstein’s other major theory, the theory of special relativity. It says that time becomes distorted around areas of heavy mass because of the strong gravitational fields that mass creates. Cassandra is an advanced particle collider than hyper-condenses particles until they’re extremely dense and heavy, thereby warping time enough to allow time travel.

But ultimately, the science of the book is all more-or-less nonsense. It’s like the sonic screw-driver from Doctor Who, something plausible enough (hopefully!) to help you your suspend your disbelief but ultimately just a device that allows the story to exist. For one thing, most physicists agree that time travel to the past, especially the past before the time machine was created, is impossible, which would make my book very short if I was being strictly scientific!

One of your main characters, Marina, starts with low self-esteem and a somewhat distorted self-view. I love that she grows throughout the book. To me, loving ourselves seemed to be one of the themes within AOY, what were the major themes you wanted to communicate to your reading audience?
I didn’t really think in terms of themes as I was writing; I was just writing the story. But I did consciously want to address this idea of self-love being something that comes mostly in retrospect because it was a big part of my own teenage and young adult years. What ended up being the other major theme, I think, is about human capacity for both good and bad and how one ends up becoming one or the other. What does “good” even mean, and is it morally right to hurt a few for the benefit of the many? I didn’t realize this was a theme of the book until after I’d written it, though, and I definitely didn’t have a particular stance I was trying to communicate.

Did your characters appear first or did the crux of the story?
The story came to me first and helped me figure out who the characters had to be.

I have to ask it because of the time travel theme, what would you tell a younger version of yourself if you traveled back? 

In a lot of ways, this novel is like my little love letter to my younger self. Em gets to tell Marina exactly what I would want to tell me at twelve or fourteen or sixteen. That she’s a lot cooler than she thinks and that she should be kinder to herself.

Often times when I think of time travel I fail to consider the impacts a time machine would have with the wrong people in charge. What drew you to the idea of a corrupt government utilizing it for what they alone saw as the greater good?
I love conspiracy theories. I find them fascinating and get so many story ideas from them (including several different elements of All Our Yesterdays) and almost all of them are about abuses of power by a shadowy government or highly-placed person in the government. And I also prefer villains who think they’re actually the hero, who really believe that they’re doing good. For instance, look at the recent revelations about the scope of the NSA’s spying on Americans. They’re doing it because they think it will help keep Americans safe; many Americans feel they’re abusing the great power they have. There’s so much tension in that to me.

Have you always been a science fiction fan?
You know, I didn’t realize how much of a fan I was for a long time. When I got the idea for All Our Yesterdays, I had a contemporary novel out on submission, and I felt like I shouldn’t write this crazy time travel story because I needed to stick with contemporary. Then I happened to look over at my DVDs and saw things like Battlestar Galactica, The X-Files, Firefly, and Doctor Who. (I went on a lot of TV-on-DVD binges in college, don’t judge!). Like half of my DVDs were sci-fi, and that’s when I realize, duh, I love sci-fi!

I love that you were able to show your reader the driving force behind even your villain’s motivations, have you considered writing in more detail from other character’s point of view?

As you are writing I’m sure your characters take on a life of their own, do they ever surprise you with their actions or desires?
My characters definitely evolve as I’m writing them, and occasionally I discover partway through a draft that the way I’m trying to write them is wrong. For instance, I initially tried to write Marina as much sweeter, and she didn’t really click for me as a character until I figured out that she actually had a very hard shell. Until I had that realization, I felt like I was forcing her thoughts and actions, and that’s how it read too. But rarely does a character run off out of my control when I’m writing. I always have my stories very well figured out before I put pen to paper (well, fingers to keyboard), so that discovery process usually happens while the story is still in my head.

Random Questions:
What are you reading right now?
I just finished rereading Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, which I end up reading about once a year. Next in my queue are several non-fiction books, because I have a hard time reading fiction when I’m trying to write. I’ve got a book about Ebola, one about the commercialization of Mt. Everest, and one about a conspiracy theory (see!) regarding the death of Marilyn Monroe.

Can you tell us anything about the follow-up to All Our Yesterdays?
Em and Finn were wrong about something very important. Dun dun duuuuuun.

Thank you Cristin for answering my questions.

I thought it would be fun to offer a giveaway for a pre-order of All Our Yesterdays. Enter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. says

    To be honest, I don’t think I would. I like the present time. I would consider going into the future though. Think about all the awesome technology!

  2. says

    I like the present time a lot, honestly. Maybe I’d pop into Victorian times for a bit, but for the most part the past doesn’t appeal to me greatly. Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Sarah W. says

    I’d like to live back in the past, but maybe for just a year. I’d want to see if Shakepeare really wrote all of his plays…plus, I’d like to know where those missing folios are. 8D

  4. Kristina Vallaste says

    I think it would be hard not to when you know you can (: But my travel’s details would depend on the consequencs. Would it be like the butterfly effect, etc.

  5. Cali says

    I would love to go gallivanting through time à la Doctor Who, stopping briefly and knocking things about but without any serious consequences. Still, if I were offered the opportunity in real life (ha!) I’d probably have to refuse since I wouldn’t be able to assess the impact of my actions.

  6. says

    Well. No, not really 🙂 Thank you for the amazing giveaway Kristen. <3 And I love the interview 😀 Will read all of it after I have read the book ;D Cannot wait to read it. <3

  7. says

    Yes, but not too far back. Like five years ago when I started my book but didn’t devote my time to it. I’d redo that and make sure I got it done.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. says

    Since both me and the bf are huge Doctor Who fans we’ve often talked about using the TARDIS to be able to go back in time and fix things. If consequences weren’t dire, I’d like to go back in time and fix a thing or two…

  9. Danielle D says

    I’d like to go back into time, I’m not sure what year or where I’d go, but I do know I’d like to go back

  10. Atalia M. says

    I’d like to travel back in time to see how things were back in the day before I was born. I’d be great if I’d also be able to travel to the future; it’d be nice to get a little glimpse of what’s to come.

  11. Shamara Catama says

    If given the opportunity I would go back in time. I would like to see how things were a long time ago.

  12. Chenise J. says

    It would definitely depend on if I had a choice about where I went. There are some time periods and moments that I would much rather avoid.

  13. Kristia says

    Yes I would.. Just not MY yesterdays though.. I would like to travel way back to time, like the 1800s or something 🙂
    Thank you for the giveaway!

  14. says

    Thanks for the giveaway!!

    I’m a pretty cautious person, so I think I would have to have a VERY good reason to travel back in time, OR it would have to be tested as safe… I wouldn’t want something terrible to happen because of the butterfly effect!

  15. Kamla L. says

    Past eras are fascinating to read about. They’re filled with adventure and romance. Love to read about them but I wouldn’t want to travel back. The further back we go the worse society treats women, children, and minorities. Beside, I couldn’t manage without all the modern conveniences.

  16. _Sandra_ says

    I like living in the present, day by day, and making the best of it. But if I had a chance to travel back in a specific time, I definitely wouldn’t mind. 🙂
    Thanks for a giveaway!

  17. says

    I wouldnt mind visiting moments of the past, but I’m also happy where i am now! 🙂 Although I’m sure the 20s threw some awesome parties and come on, who wouldnt love to spend a day or two in the Victorian era!

  18. Christina T says

    So long as I had a way to get back then yes. I would see Ancient Rome, Colonial US, the Victoria era and so much more.

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