Wednesday, November 6, 2019

#97 Inside the Emotion of Fiction: "A DAY OUT OF TIME" by Kelsey Clifton

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****Kelsey Clifton’s A DAY OUT OF TIME is #97 in the never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece. 

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? A Day Out of Time. I actually considered a few different titles for this book, because I always intended that to be the name of the series itself. The working title was Dinosaurs in New York, but I also toyed with Trial By Fire before a friend pointed out that A Day Out of Time would work really well all on its own.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date? After several years of querying agents for different projects, I chose to self-publish A Day Out of Time on August 26, 2018.
What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? Oh boy. I think I officially started it for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) ( back in November of 2014. As for the official completion date, probably two days before it was due to be released. I tinkered with it until the very end.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. This book was written, edited, and then edited again while I was living in Florence, Italy. I liked to work in various spots around the city, but my favorite was a café in my neighborhood called Volume (Right).

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? Mid-morning to early afternoon is when I do most of my writing, and I would usually work on A Day Out of Time in a local café with a cappuccino beside me. Music is such an integral part of my process that every story, including this one, has its own special playlist. As for writing instruments, I primarily used my laptop, but if I was feeling stuck, I would switch to longhand for a day or two.

What scene/excerpt of the book was the most emotional for you to write? This scene/excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer.
The New Kid snuck a few looks at Nikolaj's retreating back before turning his attention to the box. It was about as long as a loaf of bread, and made of some fragrant wood that had been darkened by time. For having been locked away for a hundred years, it was in excellent condition. The iron hinges weren't even rusty.
Closing the door behind him, he undid the clasps and opened the lid, revealing a stack of about a dozen tri-folded letters tied up with purple ribbon. They were creamy with quality rather than buttery with age, and pleasant against the sensitive ridges of his fingers. He unwrapped the first of them and let his eyes fall on the graceful salutation.
Dearest Kevin,
I remember everything.
The New Kid folded the letter closed as a sudden spike of realization lodged itself in his brain. It burned and dug in, growing hooks. There was no question as to who these letters had come from, just as there was no question that she had probably been dead for half of a century.
He read them all, pausing only to get a spare roll of tissue from the bathroom. They told the story of a few rich years spent in London, of the scandal that came out when her crocus tattoo was revealed, and of the only man who would agree to marry her with such a thing hanging over her head. His name was James Bordeaux, he was a captain in Her Majesty's Royal Navy, and he was the kindest man she had ever met. He too had a tattoo: A sea serpent that curled around his leg. They sailed the world together, and made each other ludicrously happy.
They had two daughters, Charlotte and Anna. The oldest, Charlotte, was the spitting image of her gentle, serious father, and Anna was the fulfillment of every parent's wish that their difficult child would some day give birth to one just like them. She was vivacious and bright, and frogs were her favorite thing in the entire world. There was even one cupped in her hands the day that she collapsed suddenly in the family's little garden, allowing it to hop away to freedom. The town's doctor diagnosed her with tuberculosis, and in the early days of 1913 she passed away with a soft sigh. She was nine years old.
Unable to stay in the newly quiet house, the family moved to New York at the beginning of spring and stayed until the end of the following summer. Elaine Bordeaux—formerly Miss Elaine Penrose—promised to brave the madness of the Day Out of Time so that she could find the Dogs of that age and ask them to keep these letters for him. It is strange, she wrote, to think that I have spent all these years missing someone whose parents are not yet born! What an odd, wonderful life we lead.
There were thirteen letters in all. By the end of the second, the burning spike in his head had burrowed down the back of his neck and into his chest. It twisted in a friendly way, becoming intimately familiar with the contours of his breaking heart.
Not caring about the pile of spent tissue beside him, or the hot marbles behind his eyes, the New Kid picked up the first letter and read it again.

Dearest Kevin,

I remember everything. That first and last glorious view of the skyline, the horseless cars, Romain the lovesick French soldier! I remember all of it. But most importantly, I remember all of you. Even when I am a hundred years old and have seen a hundred thousand things, I shall never want to forget you.
I wrote down as much as I could once Mattie tucked in for the night. I must have looked positively mad, scribbling away as I did! But I didn't want one single thing to fade from my memory. Imagine how it felt this morning, when I woke up and I could recall your face as if you were standing before me. It was like being born and realizing that you remembered the miracle of Heaven.
I want you to know what this has meant to me. When my heart is broken, and I feel as if I can't get past it, I will always know that things can get better. I will hold hope for the future deep in my soul where nothing can hurt it, and it will see me through my darkest times.
Soon enough I will be someone's wife, and I suppose that I will have to fade a bit so as not to overshadow my husband. But for today—for this Day—I was truly spectacular. I will never be the same, and it is all your fault.
Thank you.


Why is this scene/excerpt so emotional for you to write? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific scene/excerpt? This scene was particularly emotional for me because it’s the last contact between two people who became very dear friends over the course of a Day. Not only will they never see each other again, they will never even exist at the same time. It’s also emotional because when they parted, no one was sure if Elaine would remember anything about the Day because of a specific plot point. So the discovery that she not only remembered him, but took the time to write out a partial account of her life just mends and then breaks his heart all over again.
My experience writing this scene was almost as difficult as the New Kid’s, because I had to dig deep into his feelings in order to properly convey them. This is the first person that he’s confided in since he was a child, and one of the few people to tell him that his sensitivity and compassion are just as important as his teammate’s aggression and competence. When I write scenes like this, I wrap myself entirely in the characters. I put the right music on; sometimes I even act out little bits so I can be in the right mindset to tell the story as truthfully as possible.

Were there any deletions from this scene/excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. I think the only deletions were additional details about Elaine’s life, particularly the death of her youngest daughter. In the end, some things had to be sacrificed for the sake of clarity and emotional punch. Unfortunately, I don’t have a marked-up draft because I wrote and edited it on my laptop.
Other works you have published? After/Effects, which is the companion/sequel to A Day Out of Time. I consider it both a companion and a sequel because it does follow the events of the first book, but the focus is on a new set of previously secondary characters.

Anything you would like to add? I’m working on several projects right now, including the third and final Day Out of Time book (set for a spring release) and a standalone swords & sorcery novel called Fire and Lightning, Ash and Stone that I hope to release in early December. It’s like a snarkier version of Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
     Kelsey Clifton is a science fiction and fantasy writer who hoards books the way dragons hoard gold (seriously, it’s becoming a problem). She lives in Houston, Texas with the bossy cat from her websites and too many succulents. A Day Out of Time is her debut novel.

You can visit my website ( or stalk me on various social media.
Twitter: @kelsey_writes_
Instagram: @kelsey_writes
Tumblr: sassypandacandy


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