Sci-fi author David McCracken joins me today to chat about his alternative history novel, Fly Twice Backward: Fresh Starts in Times of Troubles.
During his virtual book tour, David will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!
David McCracken was born in Louisville, KY, in 1940. Raised mostly in Winchester, KY, he now lives in Northern Virginia, with his third and final wife. He has three children, two stepchildren, and six grandchildren.
After three years in the U.S. Navy following a lackluster academic start, he graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1963, in Diplomacy and International Commerce. He then worked as a Latin American country desk officer in the U.S. Department of Commerce until he returned to school to earn an M.A. in Elementary Education in 1970 from Murray State University, having always been intending to teach. Eventually realizing his children qualified for reduced-price lunches based on his own teaching salary, he studied computer programming at Northern Virginia Community College and worked as a programmer until shifting back into elementary teaching.
He began working on what became Fly Twice Backward in 1983 and finally finished it in 2019! At 79, David strongly doubts he’ll be doing another novel of such scope and complexity, but is preparing to work on a children’s science fiction novel with a progressive bent, being a devout progressive in politics and religion, as well as a lover of learning.
Please share a little bit about your current release.
Over thirty years ago I had a thought of a mature person going back in time, raising many interesting questions not in the usual Back to the Future story, like what had happened to him, to the family he left behind in the future, and what could he do about problems he knew were coming, given his knowledge that would allow him to make a vast amount of money. As I developed the idea over the subsequent years, I saw it as a great way to bring up many questions that concern me. A connecting theme is a love of musical comedies, shared with others in the story. Live links to these and other sources are provided making this a multi-media work that realizes the capabilities of Kindle. A connecting idea for the struggles of the novel is the intolerant fundamentalist strains of the major religions, disdaining science, equality, and social welfare. The main character sees that there are some things he can change, some he can’t, and one he doesn’t dare to. If I do say so myself, this is an exciting, emotional, thoughtful, humorous, and even romantic science fiction novel. It weaves progressivism, music, movies, and literature into a struggle spanning the globe. Vivid characters propel the action back up through an alternative history toward an uncertain destination.
What inspired you to write this book?
I think my interest in the topic began with a book my father read to my sister and me, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, in which a machine shop foreman in the late 1800’s finds himself back in time, fascinated but with his modern sensibilities struggling against ancient societal norms. Time twisting kept popping up for me, in many novels and in musicals, like On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Brigadoon, and Marco Polo, a musical made for TV in the 50’s (“If some morning, I should wake up younger, straighter, stronger, as I was before ….” Ah, the appeal of that has only increased the older I’ve gotten.)
Excerpt from Fly Twice Backward: Fresh Starts in Times of Troubles:
In early morning light, I fight my way back to consciousness, finally getting my eyes open, feeling strangely distressed. I have a vague memory of hurtling along, past bits of conversation, flashing faces. I reach for my wife, Moira, and instead bump my fingers against–a wall! Alarmed, I sit up: This is not our room, but it looks familiar–and this twin bed does, too. Panic struggles against fascination.
Hey, this looks like my room when I was a kid! Flipping on the light I remember by the bed, I look around. Oh, I’m still dreaming, but it seems so real. Ah, the wooden floor by the closet is not stained yet by the green ink I carelessly spilled.
Ugh, that cigarette smell. Thank Goodness I don’t often have to deal with it in real life. Don’t even remember smelling in a dream. I see my scout manual on the rustic pine desk Dad built. Let’s see if I can read it dreaming–I’ll probably see just Charlie Brown nonsense syllables, or wake up in the effort, as usual.
I proceed to read several paragraphs. This is only a dream, but so freaking real! I might as well “get up and look around” as long as I’m “here.” I automatically reach for my glasses and find them where I’d expect. Good. Finally got them. I look in the mirror. What a jolt! My face is boyishly thin, with no trace of a beard. My outline is trim in my skivvies, with lots of brown hair on my head, still crew-cut. How old am I: eleven, twelve?
Geez, nose so stuffy, gotta mouth-breathe, like when I was a kid. Realism! A lot of thinking for a dream? As an adult, I had realized that my childhood stuffiness must have been caused by Mom’s smoking.
Out the window, I see Dad’s . . . Chevy is gone. He must be off on a business trip this week. I see lots of greenery out there. A word pops into my head, “September,” and then, Try to Remember.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Part way through the novel, I looked back, editing once more, and thought, “Damn, this is good!” I’d begun to suspect I was really a writer when I realized the book was never far from my mind.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Perhaps the quirk is when I realized that writing has the fascination of computer programming, which I was doing at the time”–making all the pieces fit together so they work.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
It is agony waiting for a response from readers. Without that, it’s impossible to know if anybody is reading it, much less loving it as I do.
Thanks for being here today, David.