Why did you write Vic?
I read it when I was about 10. Even then I thought something else should happen. How could someone experience what Vic did and not be motivated to act on it? So now she is. She’s taking it all the way.
Was there a specific goal for the debut novel (TDM)?
To introduce Vic. I want people to understand where she’s coming from, what motivates her, and get familiar with some of her habits and what she thinks is important. Like learning, and living healthy and responsibility; she absolutely despises anyone who would deal in the trading of another human and has no tolerance for shirkers of any type.
Vic seems incredibly brave. How did she get that way?
She didn’t. Vic doesn’t see herself as brave. After what happened in Africa she remembers clearly living in a stupendously savage world where battling for your life was the daily norm and often several times in one day. So she can walk into a situation that would make the bravest men cower and cry for their mother and never flinch. To Vic even the most dangerous situation to us is like “another day another dollar”. Avoiding it would be shirking responsibility. Confronting it is fulfilling responsibility. She might tell us “It’s my job as a writer, it’s my responsibility as a human.”
How many Vic novels will there be?
I’m working on #4 right now and have two more fully in my head and neither has the series ending. So a few more!
Will they be the same length?
Long novels seem to be popular but I will do the opposite. The first Vic was over 200 pgs because I wanted to introduce Vic and take her somewhere else too. The next will be probably around 180 pages. I want it to be like the novels I read as a kid. You could read them in 2-
Why did Vic take the action she took with the jaguar?
If she had just tried to scare it and say “Boo”, it might have attacked her in the hammock and the outcome would have been not so good. Or if she did nothing it might have awakened Barney and attacked him.
Are any characters real?
Sylvanus Morley was real, a real Mayan scholar who excavated Chichen Itza. After his death it became known that he had worked for naval intelligence. But what he did in Vic was just a figment of my imagination. Or perhaps an avatar told me…
Who is Ann Darrow? I’ve heard the name.
Ann Darrow was the young woman who went with Carl Denham to Skull Island where they discovered King Kong. In the original movie (by far the best of them all!!) she was played by Faye Wray, one of those gorgeous blonde dames the public loved and of whom there will never be another.
‘Time Doesn’t Matter’ is based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel ‘The Eternal Savage’.
Is it different?
Yes. The story line is the same. Victoria Custer is in Africa, remembers a life from 100,000 years ago. Beyond that there is quite a bit different. Some of her adventures are different. I put a lot more emphasis on Vic than Burroughs did. You get to know her much better than in the original novel.
You’re a guy. Why pick a female hero to write about?
I really like Victoria Custer, her personality, courage and determination. I think what happened to Vic is both mesmerizing and enchanting. Victoria is THE main character. Not Nu. Vic started at the beginning, 100,000 years ago and was still standing at the end. And I have 4 incredible hanai nieces who inspire me with their personalities. Vic is a tribute to them and hopefully an inspiration. Vic is a normal young woman. She isn’t a sorceress or vampire or spy or cyborg or hitwoman. She has normal friends, has a pet dog, loves nice clothes, likes to try new recipes and has a garden in a hot house. She is the girl next door who wants to travel, write, learn new things and find her lost love. She isn’t from a wealthy family so she begins a career that will support her quest and pay the bills, too. She loves education but still thinks for herself; she has no death wish but if something important needs done, she doesn’t care how dangerous it is, she just does it. Responsibility. And like with Nat-
Does Vic correspond with time lines or plots of other Burroughs books? No. Vic is not used again by ERB. Her brother Barney is in 2 other novels, The Mad King and Barney Custer of Beatrice. But Vic does not correspond to their time line. In those by 1920 Barney would have become…sorry shouldn’t spoil the end for readers. Those are fun novels also. However, in Vic, Barney does do what he should, just not in proper time with other novels.
Do you know where Vic is going in the future? As of now I have 4 or 5 places for sure I want her to visit. She needs to cover a lot of bases in the search for her lost eternal love.
For Vic it was a coin toss. Someplace wild. In 1920 Mongolia was like the old wild
west in the U.S.A. There were plenty of wide open spaces and many people you were
likely to meet were less than friendly. The famous desert, steppes, plus mountains
For me, I read an old travel book about Mongolia in 1913 and saw some photos on travel sites. That was enough. It’s awesome! And when I was looking for images for Pinterest I ended up putting several photos of little kids up -
Probably. She is a meat eater after all. And since she is going to wild places,
there is likely to always be predators who will attack her. And her roots (Nat-
If you look on a map (modern) of Mongolia you may not see Kalgan, and won’t see Urga,
Dalan bulag, or Gazar. Are they all fiction?
Not all. Gazar is Mongolian for ‘place’. It is fictitious. What happens and what they see in Gazar is based on a 1913 description of Ulaan Bator (Ulaanbaatar), the capital, which was in 1920 known as Urga or sometimes in Mongolian as Niĭslel Khüree. Some maps show Kalgan but you might see Dongkou, the Eastern gate or Zhangjiakou or Changkiakow. You won’t see Dalan bulag on a map because it is now called Dalanzadgad. I cannot give enough praise to the librarians at Hawaii State Library. I spent three days trying to find if Dalanzadgad had another name in 1920 because almost all other cities did. Couldn’t find anything so I asked for help. They got an answer from professors at the National University of Mongolia. I couldn’t believe they went to such lengths! They are awesome! Are you confused yet with the city names?
What’s the difference between Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia?
Inner Mongolia is an autonomous region of China, a little like a state. Outer Mongolia
is a term not often used now. It referred to what is now Mongolia, the separate
Did Mongolia really not have money?
Yes it’s true. No they didn’t, not until 1924.
Were the Mad Baron and Destroyer real?
The Mad Baron was real. He really wanted to be the new Genghis Khan and he was a White Russian. The Destroyer is fiction, but his face wound was real for the Mad Baron who had been shot in the face; some thought that had damaged his brain and was the reason for his cruelty. The incident mentioned of a brutal recruitment by the Baron is true.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
Not yet. Before I began Mongol I had parts of number 3 in my head. By the time Mongol was done, most of number 3 was worked out and parts for number 4 had materialized. I love to write about Vic.
The original ending for Mongol was VERY different. It was an unhappy ending, bold, capitalize and underline unhappy. I wanted to write in the emotions it conveyed. But I read something about people don’t like unhappy endings. And I kept seeing that idea and I didn’t like the ending either. Not as writing but as a thing to happen, it bothered me. So one morning I decided it had to change. Within an hour without working it out I just spontaneously had the new ending. Nope, no writer’s block yet.
Will Evelyn Chan and maybe her famous uncle be back?
Maybe. Most likely. Yes to Evelyn for sure. I like her. Vic and Lin like her too so it seems natural they will get together again. And Ann Darrow from Time Doesn’t Matter will be back, probably in book 5.
That brings up the question, will Lin Li be traveling with Vic from now on?
I don’t know. Originally I was thinking a new partner every couple of books or have one or two that come and go, taking turns. Vic by herself sometimes. But I like the way Lin came out. I don’t plan characters. I put them in situations and see how they react.
So there will be another Vic novel?
Absolutely. In progress already.
Questions and answers about ‘Time Doesn’t Matter’ and ‘Mongol’