Interview with Anne Dublin, author of Stealing Time

Interview with Anne Dublin, author of Stealing Time thumbnail

Interview with Anne Dublin, author of Stealing Time

Posted on May 6 by Anne Dublin
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Anne Dublin, author of The Baby Experiment and her new book Stealing Time, joins us on the blog today to talk about her new book, how she came up with the idea for it, and what she's reading right now!

Caitlyn: Tell us about your book.

Anne: Stealing Time is an historical novel for ages 10 and up. Jonah Wiley is having a tough time. First, his parents divorced, and now his mom is going to a conference and leaving him with his dad and stepmother.

But after Jonah steals an antique pocket watch, he and his stepbrother Toby are hurled back in time — to Egypt, China, France, and other places around the world. In order to save themselves and get back to the present, Jonah and Toby must overcome their personal issues and work together to solve the tough problems they encounter.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Anne: A number of years ago, a friend of mine asked me the question, “Do you know what a leap second is?” Although I knew about a leap year, I had never heard of a leap second. Because that question piqued my curiosity, I started to do some research. (I found out that a leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time UTC) in order to keep its time of day close to the mean solar time.) That question led me to other questions about time: How was time measured in the past?  Why is it important to measure time? What is time? Why does it seem to stretch or shrink according to our activities and our thoughts? From the research I did, I decided to write an historical fiction book where a boy would be transported back in time, learn about time keeping, and tackle some problems.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the title, Stealing Time?

Anne: I like titles that have layers of meaning. I knew that I wanted the word “time” in the title. And because my main character, Jonah, steals a pocket watch, Stealing Time seemed like an appropriate title. In addition, the idea of “stealing away” is what Jonah wanted to do when he was confronted with difficult situations. One of the things he learns is how to face his fears and his problems, without avoiding them or running away.

Caitlyn: Tell us a little about the overarching theme of your work, and why you felt compelled to explore it.

Anne: Jonah thinks he can control his life, just as he takes watches apart and puts them back together again. But he finds that control is an illusion. The only thing he has power over is how he will react to the events and people around him. He learns that what’s most important thing is to try to help others. That way, he can begin to help himself. It might sound corny, but an important motivation in my own life is to try to make the world a better place.

Caitlyn: How did you research your book?

Anne: Because I’m a teacher-librarian, I get really immersed in research for my books. For Stealing Time, I read everything I could about the history of time keeping. Once I’d decided which historical periods and places would be in the book, I then zeroed in on some specific people important in the history of timekeeping, like Albert Einstein, John Harrison, and Sandford Fleming. I also did a lot of research about each time and place: transportation, food, clothing, songs and stories, historical events, and geography. After doing as much as I could using books, articles, and the Internet, I went on a few research trips: to clock museums in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, science museums in Ottawa and Toronto, and the National Research Council in Ottawa. At all those places, I talked to experts in the field and tried to glean more information, some of which wasn’t in books at all.

Caitlyn: What inspired you to write your first book?

Anne: I was taking a storytelling course where I was told to imagine a place and time that was important to me. I remembered a scene from my childhood, told a story about it, and then went home and wrote it down. That became one of the pivotal scenes in my first novel, Written on the Wind.

Caitlyn: What are you reading now?

Anne: I like reading historical novels as much as writing them! Right now, I’m reading Vivaldi’s Virgins by Barbara Quick and If I Just Had Two Wings by Virginia Frances Schwartz.

Caitlyn: What is your new project?

Anne: I’m working on White Gold, the sequel for Stealing Time. Jonah, Toby, and a new character travel back in time again, meet new people, and have a lot of exciting adventures.

Anne Dublin

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Anne Dublin

Anne Dublin is an award-winning author of historical fiction and biographies for young people. Her books include Bobbie Rosenfeld: The Olympian Who Could Do Everything, winner of the IODE Violet Downey Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award, and The Orphan Rescue, finalist for the U.S. National Jewish Book Award. She lives in Toronto.