Are you a stickler for a timeline? Or are you a fan of those books with the multiple endings? Author Val Kovalin has found middle ground between the two.
I have a two-book gay romance series: FALL INTO THE SUN (published January 2012) and REACH FOR THE MOON (estimated publication August 2012). Both books are contemporary romances that center on the same two men and both are stand-alone books. You can read them in any order you would like.
FALL INTO THE SUN centers on Alejo Sandoval and Bobby Gallegos, soul mates from the age of six. They are now forty years old and trying to get back together over the course of one week after life has swept them apart for twenty-two years.
According to the blurb: “They should have spent the past 22 years together, but life took some unexpected turns […] Heartbreak and rejection can harden the hearts of two passionate, stubborn men. One, deeply devout, wanted to attend college. One, who perfected a tough act to deceive his brothers, might have followed his dad to prison. […] When Bobby returns to Albuquerque, he will use sex, persuasion, and memories of their shared past to try to convince Alejo to take a chance on him and reach for the future that they were meant to share together.”
So how does this connect with writing yourself into a corner? Well, I didn’t know when I wrote FALL INTO THE SUN that I would want to write another book about these characters, titled REACH FOR THE MOON. I also never dreamed that their story would be so popular with the readers.
At first, I wasn’t sure when in the characters’ timeline to focus the events of REACH FOR THE MOON. It didn’t feel right to introduce more conflict after the events of FALL INTO THE SUN. I mean, oh, my God. Haven’t the poor guys been through enough? But their early days, that is, Alejo and Bobby at age eighteen, looked promising to me as an exciting time of choices and first love.
So that is where I placed REACH FOR THE MOON on the characters’ timeline. REACH FOR THE MOON will be easily twice the total word-count of FALL INTO THE SUN. Here, I focus on a road trip that Alejo and Bobby take at age eighteen on winter break before they graduate high school.
However, I did almost write my way into a corner with the timeline I introduced in FALL INTO THE SUN. There, Alejo and Bobby break up the summer after their high school graduation, so I can’t send them on a road trip after they graduate. I can’t have it happen during the school year. And I can’t set the story when they are younger than eighteen because of reader-publisher concerns about erotica and underage characters.
Hmmm. Talk about giving myself a narrow window for the events of REACH FOR THE MOON! Their road trip has to take place over two weeks of their winter vacation before their last semester of high school. But another concern arose for me to address. You could call it another roadblock that I put in my own way when writing FALL INTO THE SUN.
It is best summed up by reader comments that appeared on Goodreads.com when I created the book page for REACH FOR THE MOON. Some readers wondered if they wanted to read a story about young lovers on a road trip if they already knew from reading FALL INTO THE SUN that Alejo and Bobby will experience a twenty-two-year separation before getting back together at age forty.
After I saw these comments, I thought, “Oh, my God. Good point!” Would any reader want to invest emotionally in a story, even a much more light-hearted story, knowing that separation lay ahead on the timeline between the end of REACH FOR THE MOON (at age eighteen) and the beginning of FALL INTO THE SUN (at age forty)?
Another Goodreads.com reader commented that she might read REACH FOR THE MOON and enjoy their adventure at age eighteen while pretending that the next twenty-two years of separation never happened. This comment gave me a huge burst of inspiration.
I loved the concept of something causing the next twenty-two years of separation not to happen. I decided that I would write REACH FOR THE MOON this way. In REACH FOR THE MOON, Bobby and Alejo rewrite their future through the events of their road trip at age eighteen.
Therefore, they move to a different timeline than the one on which FALL INTO THE SUN occurs. On this different timeline, they are free to build their future together starting at age eighteen. FALL INTO THE SUN remains as a glimpse of what-might-have-been.
This may seem like a cheat, a negation of FALL INTO THE SUN, a moment of total science-fiction nerdy-ness, or all of the above. I hope readers won’t find it too weird. For me, it’s a legitimate way to go, coming from my decades of science-fiction fandom.
I have always been fascinated by the Many-Worlds interpretation in quantum physics in which (according to Wikipedia), “there is a very large – perhaps infinite – number of universes, and everything that could possibly have happened in our past, but did not, has occurred in the past of some other universe or universes.”
In such a reality, you can have Schrödinger’s cat both alive and dead, coexisting on different timelines. As with the apparent paradox of Schrödinger’s cat, neither timeline (the one introduced in FALL INTO THE SUN and the one in REACH FOR THE MOON) is more or less real than the other timeline.
So, is REACH FOR THE MOON a sequel to FALL INTO THE SUN? I had to list it on Goodreads as REACH FOR THE MOON (Alejo and Bobby, Book 2) because I’m publishing it after I published FALL INTO THE SUN (Alejo and Bobby, Book 1). But some would call REACH FOR THE MOON a prequel because it takes place in the lives of Alejo and Bobby twenty-two years before the events of FALL INTO THE SUN.
Ultimately, though, this is how I see it. The events of FALL INTO THE SUN happened on one timeline. The events of REACH FOR THE MOON happened on another timeline. Both are real and both are valid.
Both are still happening somewhere on different timelines in the Many-Worlds interpretation universe. I am writing this, and you are reading this, each of us located somewhere else, on other timelines, in the Many-Worlds interpretation universe.
Read FALL INTO THE SUN for its sense of longing and for the emotional intensity of the connection between the two mature characters. Read REACH FOR THE MOON for the characters’ youthful exuberance and passion as they start their life together. Confusing? I hope not. I hope that both books have much to offer the readers. (Thank you for reading!)
Val Kovalin is giving 1 lucky reader a chance to win both novels. Fall Into the Sun deliverable once the winner is selected, Reach For the Moon deliverable on its official release day. To enter, please comment below about the age you would be if you could go back and change the course of your future. Or would you stay on the path you are already on?
Open until Saturday, June 30th at 11:59 pm (PST). Winner will be selected and notified on Sunday.