Author: Carrie Pack
Title: In The Present Tense
Release Date: May 19, 2016
Length: 336 pages
Categories: Bisexual, Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: CB Messer
Miles Lawson goes to sleep dreaming of a future with his boyfriend Adam, but wakes to find he is married to Ana, an acquaintance from high school. When he learns he has been time traveling, Miles is consumed with finding a cure for his rare condition—and finding his first love. But will he be able to convince Adam he is telling the truth before it’s too late?
Where to begin? There is a lot to love about this book, but hardly anything I can say without giving away the surprises. From beginning to end, this story is a wild ride, and it’s worth every second.
I’m always on the lookout for books outside the usual, and this one fits in every sense. It’s suspenseful and exciting, but there’s a hint of a love story underneath. I couldn’t put it down—in fact, I was so absorbed, I finished it in one sitting, staying up far too late because I absolutely had to know what was going to happen.
The writing is tight. Because of things I won’t spoil, this could easily have become a confused mass of plot twists and muddled timelines. Instead, it’s smooth, and every piece fits together to reveal the final picture. There are the usual suspects, bad guys you see coming and ones you don’t. I felt as though every chapter held a surprise which kept me on the edge of my seat.
One important note, which is a mild spoiler but I think is important and won’t ruin the story, is that I appreciated the author’s treatment of mental illness. This could have been a “time travel explains mental illness” story, but instead, Miles’ ability to time-jump dovetails with his actual mental illness. He’s also not an example of the heroic/superhero patient, merely someone with an interesting story. The way the author seamlessly blends these two aspects of Miles and other characters fascinates me and makes me wonder how it would function in combination with other neurodiversity.
And one final point, Miles is a terrific bisexual character. His orientation isn’t something taken lightly, and the circumstances of his various relationships are not thrown in to “prove” he’s really bi—they are an integral part of the plot.
This is hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I’m definitely adding it to my “read again” pile so I can spot all the clues knowing the outcome.
For an exciting thriller, a fantastic main character, and superior writing, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
Interlude Press: http://store.interludepress.com/search?q=In+the+Present+Tense
Apple iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/in-the-present-tense/id1059526936?mt=11
Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/In-the-Present-Tense/9781941530788
Miles sat there and tried to make out shapes and colors in the dark room as he searched his brain for a memory of anything.
Nothing looked familiar. His desk, his drum set, the sheets—all gone. Not one thing looked the way it had when he’d fallen asleep, and Ana certainly hadn’t been in his bed.
He tried to replay the previous day’s events, but everything seemed fuzzy, like a fogged bathroom mirror that he couldn’t wipe clean.
Why was everything so fuzzy?
Last night… What happened last night?
Adam had come over and they were watching TV together, and Adam had given him a small stuffed giraffe because Miles was scared about having surgery. He reached for his left arm, expecting to find the cast that had been there for the last two months, but it wasn’t there. His heart began to beat so loudly he glanced over at Ana to make sure she was still asleep.
Unable to determine what had happened to his cast, Miles resumed his tally of the previous evening’s chain of events. At around ten-thirty, his mom said Adam had to leave because they had to get up early to go to the hospital. He had taken his pain meds and gone to sleep with the phantom of Adam’s goodnight kiss on his cheek. He’d been happy.
He’d gotten a text from Ana earlier in the evening, but she was only wishing him luck with the surgery. She hadn’t come over. In fact, as far as Miles knew, Ana had been several hours away in her dorm room.
So how had she gotten into his bedroom? And who had changed his sheets?
He threw off the covers and stood up, noticing he was only wearing a tight-fitting pair of boxer briefs instead of his usual basketball shorts.
He looked around the room for anything familiar, but it was still dark out, and all he could see were shadows and vague shapes. On the dresser opposite the bed, he found a few framed photos. Squinting to see without turning on a light, Miles studied the images carefully.
As his eyes focused, he recognized a couple of the photos. One was from last year’s prom: Adam wearing that ridiculous corsage Miles had bought him, Ana being dipped by her date, David, as all four of them smiled widely in front of a cheesy faux tropical scene. One of the frames held a collage of photos of his and Ana’s friends. He recognized Adam, Lucky, Antonio, Dahlia and Brienne. But the last one, the largest of all the photos, was of him and Ana—her in a flowing white dress and him in a black suit, both wearing broad smiles and flanked by Miles’s parents and a woman Miles had only seen once: Julia Espinosa, Ana’s mother.
A loud clatter echoed through the bedroom as the frame hit the edge of the dresser and fell to the hardwood floor. This wasn’t his room, and he didn’t remember that photo being taken.
“Go back to sleep,” Ana mumbled, her voice muffled by the pillow.
“Ana,” he whispered, risking her full anger, but unable to stop himself, “we’re married.”
“Thanks for the update. Now go back to sleep before I divorce your dumb ass.”
He dropped to the floor on his knees, barely even noticing the sharp pain of bare skin hitting the hard surface.
Married. To Ana?
What the hell had happened?
Carrie Pack is the author of Designs On You and a part-time college professor who recently left her job in marketing to actively pursue her writing career. Carrie lives in Florida, which she fondly calls America’s Wang, with her husband and four cats.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/mscarriepack
Today I’m welcoming Carrie Pack to chat about writing, life, and their current project. Welcome! Let’s talk a little about In the Present Tense.
What inspired you to write this story?
I’ve always had a love of time-travel stories. Some of my favorite books and movies explore what happens when we try to change our past and/or future. I’ve wanted to write about time travel as long as I can remember, probably since I first saw Back to the Future, and I feel like I’m finally at the point in my life where I can do it justice.
Is there a character you feel especially connected to? Why?
Ana, Miles’s wife. She’s the most like me: fiercely loyal to her family and willing to do anything to help them. Her heart is always in the right place, but that doesn’t always mean things go her way. She also has a bit of a potty mouth, something I’ve had to learn to accept about myself.
What was the hardest part of writing this?
I wanted to be sure I was respectful of people with mental illnesses. As someone with anxiety and depression, I know all about the stigma attached to mental illness. So I really wanted to try to combat that a bit. I did a lot of research and explored different types of mental illness. I really liked the idea of making Miles’s mental illness a bit of a super power by having his dissociations result in time travel.
Choose a favorite line or short passage. What do you like about it?
“Ah yes, the problem with personal pronouns and verb tenses,” Bethany mused. “Neither was made for time-traveling teens, were they?”
I love this moment because it’s both important for the characters—Bethany is telling Miles she understands what he’s going through, and he really needs a friend in that moment—and it’s completely meta. While I was writing In the Present Tense there were moments I wanted to give up because it was getting difficult to keep everything straight. I wanted to make sure the reader knew which version of the characters I was talking about and also to keep them interested in the story. In several of the scenes, the thing that is happening has already happened in our timeline, but the characters may be experiencing it for the first time. It’s not an easy thing to sort out, so I wanted the reader to know they’re not alone. It’s meant to be a little disorienting.
Tell us a little about any upcoming projects.
I’m so excited about my next book. It’s a YA novel that takes place during the Riot Grrrl scene of the early ’90s. It’s both a love story and my personal love letter to that time period. I wanted to be a Riot Grrrl, but I missed the boat by a few years. This is what I love about fiction—you can time travel without danger of changing the past.
How has your life changed since becoming a published author?
It hasn’t changed all that much, to be honest. My free time is still spent reading or writing, only now it’s with a purpose… and a deadline.
If you could take a time machine back 10 years, what would you tell your past self?
I love this question! I’m a tad obsessed with time travel, if you haven’t noticed. I think I would tell myself to relax a bit. Life is about to take some unexpected turns and you’re going to come out on the other side a little bruised but much stronger for it. Don’t lose sight of who you are and don’t worry about the extra pounds. Oh, and don’t forget to moisturize.
What do you hope people say about you after you’re gone?
“She was a tough chick who took no shit.” I come from a long line of women who that could be said about and I’d hate for that legacy to end with me.
- Cats or dogs? Cats. We have four… definitely a crazy cat family around here.
- Musical theater or rock concert? Musical theater, although this was a tough one. Can I just say “ALL the music”?
- Morning person or night owl? Night owl all the way. I need at least two hours of quiet and lots of caffeine to fully wake up in the morning.
- What’s your favorite season? Fall. The biggest down side to living in Florida is the lack of seasons. We get a really nice spring and the rest is summer.
- What superpower do you wish you had? Time travel. 😉
Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card, 5 First Prizes: eCopy of In The Present Tense by Carrie Pack