From her website, here’s her piece on time travel, Falling into Another Time
At one point I was going to teach European history. I even went to graduate school to learn how. I apologize now to all the undergraduates in my American History section. That’s right, American. The program was desperate for TAs. You got the wrong one.
But it’s lucky I didn’t become a history professor. I have no head for remembering dates. What I do have is a passion for stories. Plunging deep into a different time and place, a foreign world, and hearing it, smelling it, feeling the emotions of the people living then—that’s what I wanted. I’ve heard the author’s life described as a form of schizophrenia. The world you create becomes absolutely real to you. There you are, breathing in the air of a nonexistent world, hearing the voices of nonexistent people. When I’m driving I have to make sure not to start thinking of the thread of a story, or I start driving on autopilot as the scenes sweep over me.
When I was in high school, I used to walk in the mountain foothills behind our house. Because of the ridges and valleys, within ten minutes of leaving home, there would be no signs of civilization. I’d avoid looking at my clothes so I could imagine it was a hundred years ago—five hundred! Who would I meet? How would I fit in? Would the inhabitants kill me? I decided the best solution would be a “home-stay” program to the past. Someone would provide a handy guidebook of local customs and etiquette, and a contact to watch out for me and tell people I was a visiting cousin. That way I could visit the past and survive.
Recently, I realized that’s exactly what I do as a writer. I research and imagine the place I’m going: that’s my handy guidebook. Then I set up “contact people” in the new world, otherwise known as “characters.” And then I pick up my pen, step out of my day and age, and into another world.