FAQ SHEET FOR SHARON LEDWITH & THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS SERIES
How do you come up with your ideas?
Well, the idea for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis came to me in a dream I had around 1998. In this dream, I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an “Indiana Jones” feel to it. But to be honest, ideas come to me naturally, whether they’re in my dreams or I’m sitting watching a television show, doing housework or walking the dog. I love all things time travel and mysterious, so I naturally fell into those genres. I also love myths and legends—where did they come from, are they real, is there a smidgen of truth to them? I’d like to think so. Atlantis is one of my favorite myths to play with, and the arches I saw in my dream looked as if they could have come from there.
What’s a writer’s life like?
Hmm—that’s a tricky one! First thing you need to learn is to have structure and discipline. Without those two things, there’s chaos. Get a timekeeper (pun intended) and jot down your priorities for each day. Create a schedule and stick to it. Pick the days you write, the days you blog (I blog every Monday and Thursday), the time to check emails, do your social media stuff, promote, market, and all that other gobble-de-goop an author has to do nowadays. It’s crucial. Once you’ve established structure in your writing life, stick to it. Yes, you’ll have days you need to juggle or cross off, just do your best. And keep a timer by your side. Use it. So, to answer the question, my life as a writer has been a challenge, but it’s been a blessing too!
Who are your favorite characters?
There’s many! My top 6 picks:
Ebenezer Scrooge (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
Clare Randall and Jamie Fraser (The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon)
Harry Potter (Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling)
Meg Murry and Charles Wallace (A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle)
Quasi-Modo (Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo)
Percy Jackson (Percy Jackson and the Olympian series by Rick Riordan)
How did you become a writer?
Practice. Perseverance. Patience. These three steps repeated over and over again until shaken, stirred, and poured. Never forget them. These steps served me well.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes. Coffee in the morning. Tea in the mid-morning and afternoon with a piece of dark chocolate. Oh, and I burn incense when writing a new book.
Tell us a little about The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis.
How long do I have? Kidding. I wanted to create a book series for young adults that had a different slant to the time travel genre. I love history. I also love myths and legends. There’s a few time travel series out there, but nothing that has roots leading back to Atlantis—at least what I know about and have read. Since there’s no concrete evidence that Atlantis did exist, then that left the door wide open to possibilities. The idea for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis came to me in a dream. I saw seven arches and seven people with crystals in their hands, standing before the arches, as if ready to embark on a journey. I had to do a lot of digging into the legend of Atlantis, reading many books—especially Edgar Cayce’s psychic readings—and surfing the internet, until I had a fixed idea on how to present this in story form, and into a series of books.
What’s the premise for The Last Timekeepers Series?
The whole idea of the series is based on not changing our past, because it’s been written—a huge challenge for my time traveling characters who must keep time safe from an evil Atlantean force released back into the world. In the first book of the series, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, the Timekeepers time travel to Nottingham, England in 1214 where they must find an adolescent Robin Hood before history is turned upside-down. The rest, as they say, is history.
What inspired you to write this book?
Confession time. I never thought I’d write for young adults. My genre of choice was paranormal romance. I wrote a whopper of a novel between 1996-98 about a shapeshifter and a detective—a modern-type Beauty and the Beast so-to-speak. Then one night, during my writer’s circle, one of my writing friends said something that floored me. She mentioned that I hit the twelve-year-old voice bang on. This got me to thinking—how hard would it be to write a young adult novel? It was a stupid question. Of course it was hard! But, boy, it was fun! Then I had the dream about the seven arches and boom—The Last Timekeepers was born.
How did you choose the title for your book?
FYI—originally I had called the series The Timeliners, because their prime directive was to keep time in line. Then, it became The Timekeepers, and finally The Last Timekeepers, as the series became more evolved and developed.
Tell us about your journey to become a published writer.
It seems like a lifetime ago. I always had a vivid imagination, but it needed taming. I read a lot of romance books during the 90s, and one evening while I was reading, I thought how simple the structure and dialogue was. You can write, you can do this, a voice urged inside my head. Let me tell you, I almost fell off my chair. But the words sounded like truth to me. So, I took writing courses, met a great couple of gals, started a writing circle (or trinity in our case), and wrote my first novel—a paranormal romance. It caught the eye of an agent, but I was hardly ready, and I see that now. I needed to hone my craft, and I needed to get better and better. And that takes making mistakes—lots of them. You’re ego takes a pounding too. But, I stuck it out, and after 16 years of writing in the trenches, I signed a publishing contract with Musa Publishing for The Last Timekeeper Series. However, there was one catch—I had to rewrite the entire manuscript in the point of view of only one of the characters. Originally, I had written the series with each kid having their own chapter throughout the book. The publishing company found this confusing and suggested I write the first book in only one of the character’s voices. That way, the next book would feature another character’s point of way. It was sage advice and made the book stronger.
Are you working on another book at the moment?
Yes. I’m working on the prequel to the Last Timekeepers series, entitled The Legend of the Timekeepers. I also have a complete manuscript of the second book in the series, but there’s the fun job of revising it in Jordan Jensen’s point of view.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you could give to other writers?
Invest in the best. That’s in yourself, and in your readers. Your readers deserve the best of what you have to offer them. Surround yourself with the best possible team. Never stop learning. As you grow, so will your readers, so be prepared for this. Oh yeah, and never give up. That’s a given.
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The questions I ask other authors for my blog interviews:
How long have you been writing, Sharon?
Honestly, I have to admit I was a late bloomer. I didn’t start writing seriously until 1995. That’s when I took two college courses that changed my life. The first one was called Planning your Novel, which was an introductory workshop for, Writing your Novel. I met a couple of wonderful would-be writer gals, and we formed a writing circle after the classes were done.
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis?
Both the idea and inspiration came to me through a dream I had in 1998. In this dream, I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an “Indiana Jones” feel to it. At that time, I was writing a paranormal romance (before there was a distinct genre) and had no intention of writing a middle-grade/young adult book like The Last Timekeepers. But this idea kept growing in my mind, and wouldn’t leave, like some mystical force pushing you from behind. So, I thought I’d challenge myself and write a novel—a series—that would appeal to my son, who at the time was the target age of my audience. I’ve always loved the time travel genre, so I imagined the arches I saw vividly in my dream as time portals. It was a no-brainer for me.
What sets The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis apart from other books in the same genre?
Keyword: Atlantis. I wanted to create a book series for middle grade/young adults that had a different slant to the time travel genre. I love history. I also love myths and legends. There’s many time travel series out there, but nothing that has roots leading back to Atlantis—at least what I know about and have read. And since there’s no concrete evidence that Atlantis did exist, then that left the door wide open to possibilities.
As an author, Sharon, what is your writing process?
Cut a vein and write. Kidding. I have many notebooks and pads at my disposal. I also have a file full of ideas. I guess I start with the characters and build the story around them. The characters, my characters, must carry the story to completion, give readers closure. It’s a must. In order to do this, I begin writing out character tracking sheets (stats on characters appearances, clothing, likes and dislikes, etc.) which has served me well throughout the writing process. Then the fun begins. Research, research, and more research. When you’re writing time travel, you’ve got to know your facts to create the fiction. I love this part of the journey too. Only when I have enough facts, and I feel my characters are fleshed out sufficiently, then I begin to start the novel. Sometimes I’m a panser (writing by the seat of my pants), sometimes a plotter (outline entire storyline)—it all depends on the tone of the book and where my imagination directs me.
How long did it take for you to start and finish The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis?
Groan. I started gathering ideas and writing the first draft in 1999. I signed the publishing contract in 2011. Now, this was a back and forth project. During the last eleven years, I wrote a second book in The Last Timekeeper series, created and penned another young adult series (a teen psychic mystery series), worked on my paranormal romance, took a writing correspondence course, and worked at the local animal shelter. I finally picked The Last Timekeeper series back up in 2010, transcribed and polished it, and kept sending it out until I struck gold with a publishing contract offer. And even then, after all that, there were major revisions on changing my point of view over from five characters to one character. But I was determined, and did it.
Do you have any advice for other writers, Sharon?
Never stop investing in yourself. Invest in the best. That’s in yourself, and in your readers. Your readers deserve the best of what you have to offer them. Surround yourself with the best possible team. Never stop learning. As you grow, so will your readers, so be prepared for this. Oh yeah, and never give up. That’s a given and should be a wanna-be author’s credo.
What’s next for Sharon Ledwith the author?
Currently, I’m working on the prequel to the Last Timekeepers series, entitled The Legend of the Timekeepers. I also have a completed manuscript of the second book in the series entitled, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, but there’s the fun job of revising it into Jordan Jensen’s point of view. I’ve written a master plan for the series with possible titles and premises, so I’ll be one busy gal!
If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?
That’s an easy one. Atlantis. I believe it was a real place and not a myth. I’ve done too much research to know this. My gut tells me Atlantis existed. However, I wouldn’t want to go back when things were, let’s say got little shaky and wet, for the Atlanteans!