It’s no secret that I’ve been obsessed with Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger since I first read it last Christmas. In fact, it sits prominently displayed on my favorites shelf facing outward so I can admire the gorgeous cover every time I look over at my bookshelves. What initially piqued my interest about the story was the prospect of time travel and pirates but what truly hooked me were the characters I fell so deeply in love with, Nicholas and Etta. Alex’s newest book, Wayfarer, continues their adventure as they search for an ancient artifact needed to keep the timeline in tact. Wayfarer is the conclusion to the Passenger duology and to celebrate its release, I was somehow lucky enough to get to chat with Alexandra about the story! (Just a warning that there will be mild spoilers below for Passenger – if you haven’t read the first book yet, you can read my review here)
Alex started the call with a synopsis of Wayfarer and gave me some information on her writing process saying “I‘ve been calling this book my problem child in the sense that it was the book that came out kicking and screaming whereas some books just sort of rain down on you from the heavens and explode out of you, and those stories are amazing. But I am really proud of this book. I think I managed to accomplish everything that I was going for in it.” And as someone who has read Wayfarer, I can attest that accomplish it, she did! Stories involving time travel are always some of the most difficult to write because of all of the paradoxes that you can fall into if you’re not careful. On top of that, Alex had to do in depth research of each location and time period the characters visit in order to ensure her story is accurate. Luckily, Alex is a history nerd! According to Alex, “Originally Passenger was just going to be set in 1776 in New York. I studied Revolutionary War history and 18th century America in college, so I felt very comfortable writing in that time period. I had a really good grip on what the different concerns were, what the economy was like, what the atmosphere was like. That’s why I felt weirdly comfortable writing in Nicholas’ voice, then I decided I’ve got to push myself and expand the story so I could make it more inclusive… For the places that I’d never visited, I never expected this to actually be the case, but tourists, when they walk through places, will actually record themselves walking through the entire site. It made it very easy to write about the layout of all of those different places. “
One of my favorite things about Wayfarer is that we get to know Sophia and Julian a lot better than we did in the first book. While it did mean the separation of Nicholas and Etta, Sophia and Julian were such fascinating characters that it made it easier to cope with. Alex said “I really like writing group dynamics, and that was one of the challenges of Passenger, that there wasn’t a big group. It was only Etta and Nicholas for most of the book. And so with this one, I had a blast writing different groups and managing everyone’s personalities.” Speaking of those other characters, I asked Alex which character she would write about if she had another opportunity to write a full length novel in the Passenger world (because she’s already written a Rose Linden short story which is available in the Target edition of Wayfarer) and what she would do with them. Alex said “I always thought if I wrote another book set in this world, it would probably be about Julian because he doesn’t get as much page time as Sophia and Li Min do. I sort of have a concept – and sorry, this is a spoiler for the end. At the end of the book, their way of life has sort of been dissolved, and they’re starting to reestablish rules and reestablish a way of life. And, so Julian I think, would be at sea – not literally, but figuratively – in terms of what to do with himself. I had this image that he would go and work for the Belladonna and go do an errand for her, and kind of have a love story of his own. I hope I get to write it one day, and rope Sophia and Li Min in as well.“
And I obviously had to ask Alex about her plotting process and if she ever considered having any of the characters go into the future or to have anyone from the future come back to visit the characters since Passenger and Wayfarer only cover traveling into the past. Alex said “Yeah, I thought about it. So Rose ultimately goes on this single-minded path, I guess you could say, to try to prevent the astrolabe from falling into the Ironwood’s hands. Originally, in my mind when I was plotting out Passenger, it was going to be someone from the future that actually warned Rose about it, and it was probably going to be Nicholas and Etta’s kid, or their grandchild, or something to that effect. But you sort of get into grandfather paradox, where you can’t travel back in time to kill a grandparent or do something that affects a grandparent because it could affect your birth. So the action cancels itself out. I tried to avoid that the best I could, and avoid having to explain that over several dozen pages. So I was like, you know what? I’m just going to keep it a little bit simpler and go the direction I went in Wayfarer.” And as for what Alex would bring with her if she were to travel through time, “Well, it totally depends on if you’re going into the future or if you’re going into the past… Going into the future, I feel like I would bring a notebook so I could keep notes. If I was going into the past, I think I would probably bring matches with me.” Such a writerly answer!
I’ve been orphaned by my time.
The timeline has changed.
My future is gone.
Etta Spencer didn’t know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas—the eighteenth century privateer she loves—and her natural time.
When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she’s blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she’s been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.
Still devastated by Etta’s disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether.
From colonial Nassau to New York City, San Francisco to Roman Carthage, imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, New York Times #1 best-selling author Alexandra Bracken charts a gorgeously detailed, thrilling course through time in this stunning conclusion to the Passenger series.
Alexandra Bracken Bio
Alexandra Bracken is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Passenger series and The Darkest Minds series. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved East to study history and English at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. After working in publishing for several years, Alex now writes full-time and can be found hard at work on her next novel in a charming little apartment that’s perpetually overflowing with books.
Find out more on UnrequiredReading
Visit the author at her Website
@alexbracken on Twitter and Instagram
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting. This week I’m choosing Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken which is the follow up and conclusion to her Passenger duology. Passenger was one of my favorite books of 2015 and I am so eager to get my hands on a copy of Wayfarer. We were left with a major cliffhanger and I cannot wait to see how the story continues and resolves itself! Plus the cover was recently revealed and it is a thing of beauty<3
All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected—Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master’s heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta’s past could put them both at risk.
Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realizes that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.
As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognizable… and might just run out on both of them. (via Goodreads)