The secret to why I wrote a time travel novel is in my book’s dedication. I’m not a big science fiction reader. The inscription reads, For my father, George Daviau (1910-1992), who, by the stretch in our years, made me a time traveler.
I do not recommend that men in their sixties father children. My childhood was spent worrying daily that each day would be the day my daddy would die because he was old. And then, one day, he did. When I arrived at adulthood, I came to the conclusion that the only way I could have a meaningful relationship with my dad was if time travel were possible. And what fun it would be to transport myself back to New Orleans in the 1930s to visit dapper young George—or World War II naval officer George! How vindicating to say, “Hey, I’m your future daughter, I come from the year 2016, and you were right, we do carry an electronic link to all the world’s knowledge in our pockets in the future.” (My dad predicted the smartphone when I was a child. I’m proud of him for that.)
Love and relationships are often injured by the passage of time. Summer fling ends because school starts again. Father dies because he’s eighty-one. We outgrow our partners and have to face the sense of loss that time’s passage brings. Maybe you have a stack of high-waisted acid washed jeans in your closet that you can’t bear to throw out, but also can’t wear in public for fear of ridicule. Maybe you love those jeans, but they belong to their time.
If love, real love, is taking it upon yourself to try to lessen the hurts, to put good where the bad lives, my novel is certainly an exploration of love. In Every Anxious Wave, Karl, Lena and the gang have the ability to go back in time and remove tragic things from the historical record. How many love stories, after all, ride on the back of loss? Time travel could fix that loss for you. You could go back in time and get it back. But how might that love be different? What would be lost? In the end, we stuck-on-the-space-time-continuum mortals have only one tool at our disposal: empathy.
I wonder if it’s the sum of our hurts that make us lovable. I like the idea of a woman like Lena, one who has every strike against her—super-smart, fat, the opposite of sweet—being adored by a guy like Karl, who gets her. But the conundrum Karl faces: if Lena’s heart were any softer, she’d be with someone else, not him.
So yes: in Every Anxious Wave, I tried to approach the subject of love from many angles. It is a love story in that the guy gets the girl at the end, but not without loss or sacrifice. Maybe love means you accept the story of your life and the lives of others, whichever way they go. You have a hand in writing the stories of the people you love, whether you lose love or find it in unlikely places or packages, whether it’s as transient as a conversation with a stranger on the bus or a long and storied marriage that ends in death. Beginning, middle, end, accepted with grace and wonder. But if time travel were really possible, I don’t think I’d be writing novels—I’d be hanging out with my dad in the French Quarter in 1934, watching all the people in hats walk by.
Mo Daviau was born in Fresno, California and proclaimed her life goal of publishing a novel at the age of eight. Mo is also a solo performer, having performed at storytelling shows such as Bedpost Confessions and The Soundtrack Series. She is a graduate of Smith College and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan where Every Anxious Wave won a Hopwood Award. Mo lives in Portland, Oregon. Every Anxious Wave is her first novel.
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