Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Had any Time Gangsters pop in on you lately?

I’m crouched here in a New York City alley scribbling notes on Berin Stephens’ “Time Gangsters,” which is a refreshing new approach to time travel. Readers join adventurers 12-year-old Billy (boy) and his 12-year-old cousin Danny (girl… short for Dannielle - because her father wanted a boy.) The two are caught up in a time bridge from modern day Colorado to the speakeasy gangster era of 1927 New York City. If that’s not enough adventure for you, throw in some magical gold coins (or “medallions” as Billy’s best friend, Wheezy, repeatedly reminds everyone as he discovers their Egyptian words to unleash their really useful powers.)
Gangsters, cops, and kids travel through time, fighting for possession of the magical medallions that, as well as time travel, make the bearer jump high, throw fire, control wind and water and heal wounds. I really like how Stephens put the young protagonists in situations that are genuinely frightening where they face the possibility of real bodily harm from heartless gangsters, but also engage in funny banter amongst themselves, such as the "Middle Name Curse." It’s a great mix of suspense and humor.
Uh, oh. Here comes a gangster. Whaddaya mean, “How do I know?” Because he’s wearing a trench coat and a slouch hat and carrying a tommy gun. It’s pointed my way! Ack! He’s under the streetlight… what’s this? It’s Berin “Reeds” Stephens. Of all people, the one who created this adventure in the first place.
Berin: Sh. Keep your voice down.
Shirley: Oh, yeah, these New York streets are dangerous in 1927. Shall we walk? Let’s keep to the sidewalk under the streetlights and avoid the dark. Hey, Reeds, we all want to know how you thought of putting American gangsters and Egyptian gold coins together in a story.
Berin: Well, for lack of a better explanation, I had a dream about gangsters with magic coins. I added the Egyptian stuff later to make it a little more exotic.
Shirley: (Screams) Ahhh! Is that a rat?
Berin: You dirty rat! Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat
Shirley: Uh, don’t you think a machine gun is a bit of overkill?
Berin: Nope.
Shirley: Yikes! Headlights up ahead, on a black car, moving slowly!
Berin: Quick, turn the corner! Walk casually. There. We lost them.
Shirley: Good move. You've done this before. Hey, is there some of you as a kid in the main character, Billy? I mean, your names start with the same letter and have the same number of vowels. What gives?
Berin: No relation. And he's nothing like me. He's adventurous, I just drive a car and hide behind a saxophone while playing in clubs. But I did choose his last name of Fairbanks because I was born and raised in Alaska.
Shirley: Have you ever wanted to time travel? Where did you go? (Ahem), I mean, where would you go?
Berin: Let me take this opportunity to make a public service announcement: time travel is dangerous. Don't do it unless you are a certified time travel professional. There are too many consequences from it, like paradoxes created, people who end up not being born, and whole civilizations being wiped out. Not to mention the whole disruption of the space-time continuum that destroys all creation; that's usually considered kind of bad. But if I could travel through time with no consequences? Medieval England, but I'd only want to visit, not live there.
Shirley: I had to laugh when you made 12-year-old Danny taller than her 12-year-old cousin, Billy, because that is how it was when I was 12. Their banter was a funny spot in a frequently tense storyline. Did you have a sister or cousin to banter with while you were growing up?
Berin: No, I was an only child and so was my brother (we were six years apart in age so we didn't have a lot in common). But I do have five kids, who are great source material. And as far as the size difference, I teach music lessons to a lot of junior high aged kids and I visit schools a lot. It just strikes me as funny that junior high girls are often taller than the boys. I just wanted to have some fun with that.
Shirley: Hey, what’s that on the ground up ahead? It’s glinting like…gold.
Berin: I’ll get it.
Shirley: (Walking faster) No, it’s okay, I can get it. You’ve got that heavy gun and everything.
Berin: (Breaking into a run) No, I insist.
Shirley: Finders keepers!
Berin: Losers weepers! Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat
Shirley: (Screams) Ahhh! What’s that? You shot ink all over everything.
Berin: Writing is my secret weapon. You go ahead and keep the medallion, I’ve got plenty more in the pages on my laptop.
Shirley: Ladies and gentlemen, would you ever have guessed? A gangster with heart, and a great story. So where are you off to now, Reeds?
Berin: There are still many adventures happening out there: in outer space, in dystopian worlds, and with super heroes. As of right now, I don't have plans for a sequel for Time Gangsters. We'll see how well it does. But if there is a sequel, it just might take place during World War II, but no promises. But I gotta go. The boss asked me to fill up the Duesenberg before I drive him to the horse races.
Shirley: Bye Reeds! There you have it. Find "Time Gangsters" right here, at this link, go ahead, click on it! (I promise no gangsters will pop up out of your computer screen.) Now click! TIME GANGSTERS!
The Big Boss says to show you this exciting poster if I want to keep all my fingers. And I do. CLICK!
Fingers sore yet? Here's the website where it all came down. CLICK
If you're still conscious, try this blogspot. It could be fuuuun! CLICK
And the one who brought it all to light - the Big Boss publisher! CLICK

1 comment:

Berin Stephens said...

Thanks, Shirley, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It was a fun story to write.

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