Published by W Lawrence on 6-15-2014
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Would you ever travel forward in time if you knew it was a one-way trip?
Martin James has no such desire, but after being injected with a mysterious drug against his will, Martin hurtles through the years. This cruel twist of fate forces him to watch his children grow up and his wife grow old in a matter of days. Only an elusive group of scientists have the ability to stop his nightmarish journey; the very people who injected him in the first place. And while Martin James hopes to find a cure before everyone he loves is gone, others are uncertain if his journey can be stopped at all.
W. Lawrence weaves a future history filled with the best and worst of humanity, highlights the blessings and curses of technology, and pushes the limits of faith and hopelessness. Above all, Syncing Forward is a tale of one man's love for his family, and their devotion to saving him from being lost forever.
Interview With Author W. Lawrence
Can you talk a little about what the book is about?
Syncing Forward follows Martin James who is unwillingly injected with a drug that slows his metabolism to a crawl and causes him to experience years in a matter of days. Martin watches his wife grow old, misses his children growing up, and watches history unfold in an unsettling manner. As the story progresses, his two daughters cope with his condition in very different ways. One becomes his caretaker while the other does everything she can to find the antidote to stop Martin’s relentless drive to the future.
What makes your book unique?
Syncing Forward touches on everything from scientific ethics to suicide to terrorism to social changes. However the novel is really a love story of the family, about how far we are willing to go for our children, our parents, our spouses, our siblings. I am sure that doesn’t make my book unique, but it does make it a rare event where many books only focus on romantic love.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
As Mother Abigail said in The Stand, “Came to me in a dream, I reckon.” I’d like to take credit for the idea, but the storyline from front to back was in my brain when I woke up one day. As I wrote it, certain topics dovetailed evenly into the story, and I chose ones purposefully that make me feel uncomfortable.
Is there any message you want readers to get from reading the book?
There are a lot of messages I want readers to get, and picking out only one is tough. The main character is ripped from his family after being injected with this drug, and he barely keeps his sanity by holding onto brief kernels of time with them. Anyone who has been separated from their children know how difficult it is to be away from them; you think about them constantly, you worry about them missing you, and you worry that they won’t miss you. If you miss everything else, I hope my book helps you to cherish your family more.
How long did it take to write the book?
2 years and change. I hold a full time job, and the book clocks in at 150,000 words.
Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?
Amara. She’s the oldest daughter of Martin James and tremendously dynamic. Amara also is terribly flawed. Brilliant yet emotionally stunted, she can’t accept her father’s fate and grows into a tragic yet dangerous character. Writing her took a toll on me because there are elements of both my daughters in Amara (just as there are in the younger daughter Bella). Amara became very real, and I wanted so much more from her as I wrote. But in the end, I decided that she had to become a result of the choices she made, just like a real person.
Can you talk about how you wrote it? Did you do any outlining? Did it take you in any unexpected directions?
I was writing from the memory of a dream, so –while I appreciate using an outline- this was one effort where I felt compelled to just write and see where it took me. I was surprised that suicide came up as a theme, but the more uncomfortable I felt writing on the topic, the more I realized I had to bang that drum louder. I wanted the reader to feel as conflicted as I do over the topic of suicide in all its variations.
If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?
Part of me wishes I would have written it in the third person. It would have been a much more dynamic book as all of the characters have far more freedom than Martin James. He is a man who sits still for years at a time, and making that concept into a story that is exciting and fresh was challenging. I’m still not convinced I pulled it off. At the same time though, the emotional roller coaster the main character goes on is horrific and I don’t think I could have conveyed those feelings as well without using a first person narrative.
How did you come up with the cover?
After my first cover was panned by a Facebook crowd (and my editor), I hammered out some ideas with a friend of mine. He suggested using a broken clock face to signify that time is broken for the main character. The water plays off the title of syncing/sinking, which comes up in the book.
And if you look at the back cover (sorry e-readers) you can see that the title reflects in the water as “SINKING Forward”.
Speaking of regrets, I wish the cover was less sci-fi looking. I like it, but some people were picking it up and thinking space opera. A lot of readers at book signings walked right past it and only picked it up after I told them what it was about.
If I could change it, I was thinking a man’s hands embracing two different hands, one from a little girl and one from an old woman. It probably would have made the book easier to market to the right audience. Maybe I will change it again. Who knows?
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Ha! I’m still not sure I want to be a writer. It is no joke writing a book and I am shocked that anything anywhere ever gets published. I have tremendous respect for all authors, let alone the people who do it full time.
What was the first story that you ever wrote?
This is my first published novel. I wrote a short story that supplemented a tabletop game rulebook for Warhammer 40,000, but there wasn’t much too it and it had to stick to a rigid format (no dialogue). It’s still available online for free if anyone is interested.
I not only wrote (most of) the story but organized and edited the entire rulebook, including making many of the models. It was a nerd’s dream come true.
What is your favorite genre, and why?
I am torn between science fiction and non-fiction stories about pirates.
Are there any books you are absolutely inspired by?
The best science fiction book I ever read was The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester. It is practically a work of poetry and it reads aloud nicely.
Literature-wise I still go back to John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The characters are so real and gritty, but he also manages to frame his stories in such a way that you feel they could go on forever.
Non-fiction fans will love Richard Zacks. He has written several works, but his best is Pirate Coast. It’s a fantastic story about Thomas Jefferson, the first Marines, and the secret war of 1805. Even if you don’t like non-fiction, you’d love this.
What are you working on next?
I love old houses and there is a certain quirk about our own home that inspired my next novel. I don’t want to give away anything yet, but this next book will be fast paced, twisty, and have a romantic edge. If you like surprises and adventures, you’ll want to keep in touch.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
For self-publishers, there are a lot of things you can do to promote your work. However, do your research because there is an order to the process that I didn’t pay much attention to until it was too late. Blog tours, advanced copies, ads, even telling your friends and family, need to be coordinated or you’ll be spinning your wheels. Get help and ask questions and don’t be too eager to ‘just get it out there’.
Oh, and remember your mom and kids will be reading your book, so don’t write anything you wouldn’t want them reading.
How do you juggle writing with family time?
Not very well. What worked for me the best was getting up a full hour early (4am) and writing before I did anything else. My brainpan was empty at that hour and I found the words came faster than at the end of the day when I was worried about putting kids to bed and what I needed to do the next day. There are decidedly fewer interruptions at 4am as well.