A Moment In Time
by Martin Dukes
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Alex Trueman has just turned fifteen. He’s a typical teenager, a bit spotty, a bit nerdy and he’s not exactly popular at school, not being one of the ‘cool’ kids. His tendency to day-dream doesn’t exactly help him to be cool. either! But being cool isn’t as good as the talent Alex discovers he has – stopping time.
Yes that’s right. Stopping time!
Well, for everyone except Alex, that is, who finds that whilst everyone else is caught in a moment in time, he is able to carry on as normal. Maybe not quite ‘normal’, after all, he’s able to stop time, and whilst that’s not exactly as good as a certain ‘boy wizard’, it’s pretty close!
The only trouble is that reality for Alex isn’t always what is seems, and being plunged into an alternative can be a bit tricky, not to mention the fact that he makes an enemy almost as soon as he arrives, which tends to cause a problem.
Will Alex Trueman, nerdy daydreamer, be able to return to reality or will he be stuck forever in his alternative? Is a moment in time enough for Alex to discover the superhero he needs is probably himself?
A Moment in Time is the debut novel of author Martin Dukes, and is the first in a series of Alex Trueman Chronicles, which take the reader, along with Alex, into a bedazzling world of time travel, alternative reality and flying sea creatures. His further adventures include the past, possibly the future and definitely a fight to save reality itself.
Alex returned home to find a most unwelcome development, which had arrived through the letterbox in the superficially innocent form of a brown envelope. It might as well have been a letter bomb for its explosive impact on Alex’s day. It contained his school report. His mother’s set jaw and the glint of steel in her eyes when Alex walked into the kitchen signalled danger ahead. Alarm bells were dinning away insistently by the time the brown envelope was brandished in his face.
“This,” she said, tapping him on the head with it for emphasis, “Is your report.” She paused to let Alex dwell on this prospect. “It does not make good reading. Let me see,” she pondered as she snatched up her glasses and whipped the report out to read. “Mathematics… 3C… English… 2C… Design Technology, get this… 4D.” She read through the whole list in a voice trembling with outrage. “And here’s the grand finale,” she said, shaking the page. “The considered opinion of your form teacher. Do you want to hear what Mr Burbage has to say about you?”
Alex had absolutely no desire to hear this now, or indeed ever, but he recognised there was no point in saying so. A display of submissive behaviour seemed in order. He hung his head. “Alex is undoubtedly an intelligent pupil with a bright future, should he choose to exert himself,” she read. “Get that? Should he choose to exert himself.”
Her face came worryingly close to Alex’s as she stressed this last part. He was conscious of a little drop of her saliva on his chin, at first warm, now suddenly cold.
The Thing About Time
Article by Martin Dukes
There’s something infinitely fascinating about Time. I think that’s why I decided to write a book loosely based on the concept of time standing still. Other people are equally enthralled with Time, given the large number of books and movies that investigate this theme: Palm Springs, About Time, and The Butterfly Effect, to name some of my favourites. However, the one that really sticks out in my mind is the majestic Groundhog Day, which I watch over and over again (rather appropriately). I love the way in which Bill Murray, trapped in a perpetually repeating day, learns to turn circumstances to his own advantage, eventually winning the affections of the woman he has come to love.
I think my fascination with Time began when I was a child. I would set up environments in which I could imagine and play out stories, involving ever-changing permutations of a cast consisting of my toys. Perhaps this was unwitting preparation for adulthood, since, as writers, we adopt very much the same strategies and procedures. We establish an imaginary context in which to place our invented characters, and we explore the possibilities of actions and relationships set there. It is as though our books are the ‘sand boxes’ in which we test our characters to their limits, and our stories emerge as the record of this.
Naturally, a really interesting ‘sand box’ can make for a really interesting story, and few subjects offer more potential for this than ‘Time’. I don’t pretend to be a scientist, but I know enough about the subject to see the possibilities for creative interpretation. Many stories about time travel are based on a very flimsy understanding of time, which ignore the relationship between time, movement and distance. For example, if I was to travel back in time twenty-four hours from this moment, I would find myself, not seated in front of my computer, but somewhere in the vacuum of interplanetary space, watching the receding earth with my dying breath. This is because the earth is at once rotating and moving in its orbit around the sun. To stay in front of my computer, I would need to move in space as `much as in time. Our sense of being fixed in our places is an illusory one. I know you’re all probably thinking ‘Wow!’ right now, or sitting there scratching your heads, wondering what I mean. The concept of Time in relation to space, movement and distance can be bewildering. Do we really exist in Time at all?
There is something very ‘unscientific’ about Time, something in the interface between demonstratable fact and human experience that creates a tension which the writer may creatively explore. Time proceeds with relentless regularity, as your clock will tell you, but our perceptions of it are governed by our feelings. How is it that when I was a child the summer holidays seemed to last forever, but now time seems to pass by with a terrifying rapidity? Time drags when we are bored; races past when we are enjoying ourselves, in a way that makes you feel that time must be, in some way, elastic. Perhaps it is.
We also intuitively understand that time proceeds only in one direction-forward; and can perceive of no alternative means of progression. It is hard-wired into us to understand this, but what if Time is more flexible than the uni – directional rigidity we are taught. And now, I’m getting to the bit which tells you how Alex Trueman, and my novel, A Moment in Time came to pass. What if there is an alternative Time? What if time also progressed in another direction? When we watch an old-style celluloid movie, we are watching a sequence of images, each with tiny differences from the last, presented to our eyes so rapidly that our brain is tricked into perceiving them as continual motion. What if Time worked that way too, with individual moments arranged as though in a film strip, with little black gaps in between? And what if those little black strips, these interstices between moments in Time, constituted a world of their own, in which Time proceeded at right angles to regular time, a sort of offshoot of reality, if you see what I mean? From the perspective of anyone living in this ‘intersticial’ world, everything around them would be frozen into immobility. So much for the concept; which scientists will tell me is impossible, but hey! I don’t care! It sets up an amazing basis for me to use as a ‘sand box’ for my characters. How many of you have ever wondered what wonderful possibilities would open up if we could stop Time and step into such an ‘intersticial’ world. For one thing, you could take a good book with you and read to your heart’s content, before stepping back into normal Time once more when it suited you. Just imagine! You could have as much Time to yourself as you wanted. You could cheat your way through exams with superlative ease. You could clean up at the casino, have all sorts of mischievous fun with your friends, and even set things straight with your enemies with complete impunity. What delightful possibilities would open up? So ‘Intersticia’, this unique world I imagined, became my ‘sand box’, and I placed in it the various characters I created, including my MC, Alex Trueman. It sounds like a most enticing place, does it not? But there is always a serpent in paradise. ‘Intersticia’ contains more than a few that Alex must contend with, when he finds that he is trapped in a Moment in Time.
Damn, there’s always a payoff, isn’t there?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I’ve always been a writer. It’s not a choice. It’s a compulsion, and I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Lots of childish scribbles in notebooks, lots of rejection slips from publishers and agents testify to a craft long in the making. In addition, it has proved necessary to earn a living by other means whilst those vital skills mature. For thirty-eight years I taught Art and Graphic Design, thirty-seven of them in a wonderful independent girls’ school in Birmingham, UK. For much of the latter part of this career I was Head of Department, which gave me the opportunity to place my own stamp on Art education there, sharing with the pupils there my own love of Art and the History of Art. Over a decade I was able to lead annual visits to Florence, Venice and Rome (some of my favourite places on the planet) as destinations on my Renaissance Tour. These visits created memories that I shall cherish for the rest of my life.
I love history in general, reading history as much as I read fiction. I have a particular interest in the ancient world but I am also fascinated with medieval times and with European history in general. This interest informs my own writing to the extent that human relationships and motivations are a constant throughout the millennia, and there is scarcely a story that could be conceived of that has not already played itself out in some historical context. There is much to learn from observing and understanding such things, much that can be usefully applied to my own work.
Teaching tends to be a rather time-consuming activity. Since retiring, I have been able to devote much more of my time to writing, and being taken on by the brilliant Jane Murray of Provoco Publishing has meant that I am finally able to bring my work to the reading public’s attention. I like to think that my ideas are original and that they do not readily fall into existing tropes and categories.
I am not a particularly physical being. I was always terrible at sport and have rather poor physical coordination (as though my body were organised by a committee rather than a single guiding intelligence!). I tend to treat my body as a conveyance for my head, which is where I really dwell. My writing typically derives from dreams. There is a sweet spot between sleeping and waking which is where my ideas originate. I always develop my stories there. When I am writing it feels as though the content of my dreams becomes real through the agency of my fingers on the keyboard. I love the English language, the rich majesty of its vocabulary and its rhythmic possibilities. My arrival at this stage could hardly be describes as precocious. However, at the age of sixty-two, I feel that I have arrived at a place where I can create work of value that others may appreciate and enjoy.
Twitter – @MartinDukes5
Martin Dukes will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js