Author Chat: Gabrielle Meyer
Author of When The Day Comes and more.
As soon as I read the blurb for Gabrielle Meyer’s new book, When The Day Comes, I knew I needed to grab a copy. The story follows the character, Libby, who has been given a special gift: to live her life in both 1774 Colonial Williamsburg and 1914, New York. Every night she falls asleep in one life and wakes up in another…
The story proved as utterly fascinating as the premise (you can read my full review here) and I immediately reached out to the author, Gabrielle Meyer. I needed more details about book two! Gabrielle graciously agreed to chat with us, and today, we’re discussing everything from time travel to publishing!
The 52 Book Club: Hi Gabrielle! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. I just finished reading your newest novel, When the Day Comes, and immediately knew I needed to talk more about this! First of all, this was such a fresh and creative premise! As soon as I read the blurb I was absolutely captivated. Can you tell us a little more where the inspiration for this story came from?
Gabrielle Meyer: Thank you so much for having me here on your blog! I’d love to share more about When the Day Comes. The inspiration for the story kind of fell into my head one day. I was thinking about the book, Outlander, and how so many time-travel stories are about a person who accidentally “falls” through a portal in time and ends up in a place very different from their normal life. The conflict comes when they try to get back to “normal.” As I thought about the concept, the idea came to me: “What if both of their lives were ‘normal’ from birth? What if they went back and forth every time they fell asleep and had to choose between the two of them when they turned a certain age?” The idea for When the Day Comes was born.
52 Book Club: Time travel stories are always fascinating to me, but I was especially intrigued by the fact that you didn’t give us a modern timeline. (Although there were still modern elements and views thanks to Libby’s mother.) Why specifically did you choose the years 1774 and 1914 as your two settings?
Gabrielle Meyer: I love history. I studied it in college and worked for the Minnesota Historical Society for ten years. When I read a dual-timeline story I’m always more fascinated in the historical story than the contemporary one. It didn’t even occur to me to set part of When the Day Comes in the present time.
I chose 1774 colonial Williamsburg because I had just visited there a year before and fell in love with the area. I have several ancestors who settled Virginia in the early 1600s and was familiar with the history. For the second setting, I wanted a time in history that contrasted with 1774 and chose the Gilded Age, during an era when Americans were trying to buy their way back into the English Aristocracy through their daughters. I could have chosen any time between 1884 and 1914, but I also wanted the contrast of the two wars (American Revolution and WWI) that were starting in both eras.
52 Book Club: And speaking of time travel, that can be a tricky element to incorporate into a story! Time travel theories can open up a lot of plot holes and questions for the readers – but I thought you navigated this wonderfully. Any time I had a “but what about…” moment, you addressed it soon after! What was one of the most challenging parts of writing this story?
Gabrielle Meyer: The hardest part about writing a story like this is thinking about subsequent stories! I have to have my other stories plotted in advance so they don’t contradict each other and the characters don’t inadvertently interfere in each other’s lives. For instance, I’m planning to set one of the paths in book three in 1912—but I do not want the character in that era to know about Libby (who would be her grandmother living in 1914), so I have to make sure they are far enough apart and their paths would not naturally cross. I don’t want them “bumping” into each other, because that could create a plot hole I don’t want to address! Libby’s story is told, so I cannot have her running into someone from a future era who would mess anything up.
52 Book Club: The ending of this book was so perfect! It was clear that you’d had the entire story mapped out right from the start. What does your writing process usually look like?
Gabrielle Meyer: I am a super-plotter/planner. I look at writing a book like taking an extensive trip. When I plan a massive trip, I make sure I have every detail in place. Airfare, lodging, documentation, itinerary, etc. I want to know where I’m going, what I’m doing when I get there, and what I will need for the journey. Of course, there is a lot of room to explore and discover on the way. Once I know that all the key pieces are in place, I can relax and go on a vacation and immerse myself in the destination, enjoying the trip to the fullest.
The same is true for a book. I plot out all the key pieces, making sure I have a plan to get from one point to the next. I know the ending before I even start. Once I have it all planned, then I allow myself to get immersed into the story, letting it come alive as the characters take their journey. Just like my children need to trust that I know where we’re going when we are in an unfamiliar city, I want my reader to trust that I know where I am taking them in a story.
52 Book Club: I adore this book’s cover and have loved all the “book face photos” popping up with it on social media. The cover has a very different feel compared to a lot of the books you’ve published in the past. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like publishing When the Day Comes?
Gabrielle Meyer: Ever since I was ten-years-old, I wanted to publish a book with Bethany House Publishers. They are located in St. Paul, Minnesota, which is close to where I live. As I pursued my publishing journey, I submitted several story ideas for Bethany House to consider. I received very similar feedback each time: your writing fits in with Bethany House, we just need a story to set you apart.
Since I wanted writing to be my full-time job, I pursued other amazing publishing houses along the way. I have written for Barbour, Harlequin’s Love Inspired historical and contemporary lines, and Guideposts Fiction. Each book stretches me and challenges me in unique ways.
When I came up with my idea for When the Day Comes, Bethany House was eager to publish it and I was over-the-moon excited to write for them. Since the story is so unique, they wanted the cover to be unique, too and they succeeded!
52 Book Club: The ending of this novel set us up really perfectly for book two. Can you give us any hints as to what we might be in for? How far into the writing process are you with the coming book(s)?
Gabrielle Meyer: Book two is written and has a title! It’s called In this Moment and will focus on Maggie’s story. I am currently in the editing phase and the release date will be May 2023. Book three is in the works, as well, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers! Each book in the series will be about the next generation of time-crossers, but each one is very different from the other. There will be quite a few twists and turns and surprises along the way.
52 Book Club: Besides the Timeless series, are there any other book projects you’re currently working on? I know you’d mentioned on Instagram that you’d written seventeen stories in the past two and a half years! That’s so impressive! On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
Gabrielle Meyer: I am currently writing my fifth book of this year. I wrote one historical novella for Guideposts Fiction (Love’s a Mystery in Sleepy Hollow, NY), one full-length historical for Bethany House (In this Moment), a Love Inspired contemporary story (A Baby Proposal), and two Guideposts cozy-mysteries (Duel Threat and Under the Apple Tree). I will be taking off a bit of time this summer and then I have two more books to write this fall. As you can imagine, I write fast. It took me four weeks to write the first draft of When the Day Comes, but I credit most of it to my super-plotting technique. When I know where a story is going, then I don’t get writers block and I don’t have a lot of editing to do at the end. That allows me more time to write the next book.
52 Book Club: And finally, what books are you currently reading?
Gabrielle Meyer: When I’m in the midst of a tight writing schedule, I tend to re-read some of my favorite books, sort of like comfort reading. I can reread a book about every five years and experience it again with fresh eyes. I know how the story will end, but I generally forget all the details that make it so special. Recently, I reread A Proper Pursuit, by Lynn Austin, and now I’m rereading my very favorite series of all time, the Betsy-Tacy Series by Maud Hart Lovelace. I did listen to Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate on audiobook while driving my kids from one activity to the other this past spring. I have several books I’m planning to read on my summer break, but my most anticipated read this coming year is Millstone of Doubt, by Erica Vetsch, releasing in September.