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To Time Travel or not to Time Travel?

By Carmela Cattuti

I am currently exploring the concept of time travel that will be a component of my fourth novel Another Slice of Life. Time travel fascinates us as humans, and I think most people have considered it a possibility some time in their lives. As I write I am both surprised and excited about its appearance in the book. I feel this book would fall short without the expansive experience of travel into different earth timelines. I think it's time to take a serious look at the potential of time travel to understand the past or the future. If we can journey into the past then we can also access the future, even though it hasn't happened yet. It is easy to view the future as malleable, but we consider the past "fixed." We change the past by modifying our frame of reference in the present.

. Another Slice of Life is the working title of my novel, which I am sure will change as I become consumed by the experience of writing and its possibilities. For those of you who have read my previous three books, the characters will be familiar, but the focus and the structure of the book will be different, which is why, at this point, I don't consider it as part of the series. You could draw a connection between the main character, Marie (the protagonist), and her great aunt, Angela. Marie denies who she is so she can fit in and become part of the social fabric of New York City in the 1970s. She finds her unusual experiences with her aunt during her formative years bleed through to the present. The past seeps in to remind her that she needs to embrace her past or the self-actualization she seeks will be unattainable.

Society. family, and friends become the antagonist is this book. The fact that Marie has had experience with the unseen and scrying into a mirror is part of her DNA. Experiences like that do not fade away, never to emerge again. As I finished the third novel, The Benevolence of New Ideas, I could feel that another book was emerging.

All of this begs the question: how does one illustrate time travel in novels? What does it look like? Do you travel in your physical body? Two books come to mind that illustrate the physical aspects of time travel: Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and Stephen King's Nov. 22, 1962. Both novels have a physical portal to the past. In Outlander, Claire Randal falls into the past (18th century Scotland) through the stones at Craigh na Dun, a formation of ancient stones like Stonehenge in England. In Nov. 22, 1963, the portal is in the pantry of an old diner. In both novels, the characters time travel in their bodies.

In my new novel the protagonist, Marie, travels in a non-physical manner through what some might call remote viewing. Through focusing on a mirror (used much like a crystal ball) and projecting oneself into the glass, Marie accesses a world beyond the present. It is a subtle transition into other timelines and places, bringing back information to integrate into her present life. Time travel can add a multidimensional element to a novel and expand its reach beyond the present time or place. It gives the writer an opportunity to explore the fluidity of time. The validity of linear time is challenged and bent to serve the author's vision and support the novel.

When a writer uses time travel as a tool to expand the landscape of a novel, he or she opens to a boundless world of possibility. Another Slice of Life will explore time travel to enrich and explain the present, increasing the awareness of the protagonist, highlighting the challenges ahead.


Carmela Cattuti is the author of a trilogy: Between the Cracks, The Ascent , and The Benevolence of New Ideas. All three novels are fueled by her great aunt's experience of immigration from Sicily to America. She is the recipient of Chill with a Book Readers' Award. She is currently writing her fourth novel. Carmela received an MA from Boston College in English Literature and is also a visual artist. Visit her web site at Questions or comments email Carmela at


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