By J. H. Bográn
Author Mark de Castrique takes us to a not-so-distant future for a roller coaster ride that is unbelievably plausible in DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME.
The year is 2030. Scientist Jonathan Singer stands on the verge of achieving his two greatest dreams: marriage to his soul mate and the launch of his life’s work, The American Super Collider. But when an old man shows up at his apartment claiming to be Dr. Jonathan Singer from 40 years in the future, Jonathan’s world spins out of control. Is he his own worst enemy or will he heed the old man’s plea – “To Thine Own Self Be True.”
One thing is certain, while Jonathan races time to save the Future, someone is trying to kill him in the Present.
What inspired the premise for DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME?
The premise for DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME is quite different from my previous eleven novels, and is actually two-fold. I was interested in the scientific frontier of particle physics, not because I comprehend it, but because it explores the very nature of our existence and might unleash forces more strange, powerful, and unforeseen than Einstein’s E=MC2. The second part of the premise came from the inherent conflict of two well-known sayings: Polonius’s advice to Laertes – “This above all: to thine own self be true,” and the statement, “He’s his own worst enemy.” How would a character react if confronted by himself from the future, especially if that future self told him to destroy everything he was working on?
Please define the protagonist of the novel.
Jonathan Singer is a thirty-five-year-old scientist working on The American Super Collider. He is dedicated and determined to bringing the particle accelerator online in the international race to uncover the secrets of the building blocks of the universe. His intense drive is tempered by one person, Sally DeMille, the woman he loves, and the woman who refuses to take a backseat to his research.
What makes Jonathan Singer stand apart?
Initially, Jonathan isn’t that different from other characters obsessed with their work. He despises the politics that interfere with his research and is torn between his science and his love for Sally. What sets him apart is when his world is turned upside down by the appearance of his future self. Jonathan from the future is destroying not only his career but his opportunity to marry Sally. As if that isn’t conflict enough, someone or some unknown conspiracy is trying to kill him.
Can you tell us about the antagonist?
Jonathan’s main antagonist is himself from the future. Old Jonathan is on a mission that he pursues with the same zeal as his younger self pursues scientific research. But old Jonathan’s motivation is far more compelling. As he tells young Jonathan, “You have seen how you will live; I have seen how I will die.”
However, the two Jonathans and Sally must set aside their personal conflicts about the future in the face of external forces threatening their lives in the present.
Hold on. I have a follow up question from the little sfi-fi geek in me. Most sci-fi works have one’s confrontation with a self from other time-or dimension-as the stuff time paradoxes are made of. Do you deal with a time paradox in DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME?
Good question. Glad you’re a sci fi geek. I find the time paradox in time travel intriguing, raising whole questions of parallel time tracks. In DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME, the two Jonathans are separated by forty years of “history” and, once merged, they are beginning a new time track different from the one old Jonathan experienced. That means if young Jonathan is killed, old Jonathan won’t immediately vanish because he is also existing as a separate entity from young Jonathan at the point in which he entered the Past.
It also means he is able to send himself materials from the Future so long as he sent them before he physically left the Future. That’s a neat power to send yourself supplies that can arrive after you’ve jumped to a point before their arrival.
Now the unanswered question is does a timeline dead-end or disappear if a major change occurs that will unravel the Future experienced by the time traveler? I think the answer is yes. At least that’s what old Jonathan hopes will happen. Even though the time traveler wouldn’t disappear, he would jump forward into a Future that has been changed by his actions.
What kind of research did you do when writing this novel?
I became interested in the topic back in the 1990s when the U.S. was preparing to build a super collider in Texas. That project was killed because of budget constraints and lack of congressional support. But I started following developments at the CERN collider and decided my setting could work in the near future with a new collider being built near the research centers in my native state of North Carolina.
The subject took on a more timely significance when CERN announced last July 4th that the sought-after Higgs boson, the theoretical particle responsible for giving matter mass, had been discovered. But I knew this discovery probably wasn’t of interest to a large segment of the population, but it was still worthy of a story, particularly one that so dramatically impacts the lives of my characters. I hope the humanity of the story will lure readers who otherwise wouldn’t think super colliders would be an interesting background for a thriller.
Is there a video trailer to share?
Yes. I made a video trailer that’s about a minute and a half long. (Note: You can view the trailer on YouTube or scroll down to the end of this article).
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished the manuscript for the fourth book in my Sam Blackman mystery series that will be released in July 2013. Entitled A MURDER IN PASSING, the story involves a little known part of history when a freed-slave commune in the mountains of western North Carolina was ruled by a King and Queen.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about DOUBLE CROSS OF TIME?
Yes, it’s important to me that readers know that although this is a science thriller, it isn’t a technological thriller abounding in scientific jargon and detailed data. Rather the scientific aspects provide the catalyst to set the story in motion. And for readers of my mystery series, the book is a departure, but a topic that I found intriguing and one I hope they will explore with me.
Mark de Castrique is the author of two critically-acclaimed series, the Barry Clayton and the Sam Blackman mysteries. His 2012 D.C. thriller, THE 13TH TARGET, was called “one of the best political thrillers of the year” by the San Francisco Book Review. He has also written two mysteries for Young Adults – A CONSPIRACY OF GENES and DEATH ON A SOUTHERN BREEZE. Mark and his wife Linda live in Charlotte but are often found in the western North Carolina Mountains or our nation’s capital.
To learn more about Mark, please visit his website.