The After Times (The Bean Books 5) by Christine Potter released in August in the YA fantasy , time travel genre.
Say you’re Gracie Ingraham, nerdy but happy high school senior. But you’re also a time-traveler from 1962 who got a bit lost and has been living in the 2000’s since 2018. That would be plenty without it now being 2020. Covid has just shut down the world. Your pandemic pod? Your BFF Zoey—and your ex-boyfriend, Dylan.
Dylan still lives to spin weird vinyl LP’s with your sort-of, kind-of Dad, Amp. So your quarantine hobby is going to have to be Being Mature About Stuff.
But then your time traveling kicks into high gear again. And your long-lost brother and mom mix it up with a creepy, pyromaniacal force that is most likely demonic. How can love save the day when you can’t even go downtown without wearing a mask?
I pulled out a note and opened it up. The crease in it seemed sharp and fresh, as if it had just been folded that afternoon. It was on old-school yellow legal paper, torn from a pad, written in unfaded black ink—big letters.
Grace—I’m okay. I really am. Don’t believe everything you see. Mom’s okay, too. By the way, Jesse is a major asshole. Gotta go— Jack.
“Zoey! Claire!” I folded the note back up, put it in my pocket, and ran downstairs.
“Whoa! Those look great on you!” Claire pushed herself up from her chair. “Turn around! Let’s see how they fit in the back.”
Oh yeah, the jeans.
“Right. They fit really well.” I spun around. “But this was in them. From my brother!” I pulled out the note and waved it in the air.
I shouldn’t have been as shocked as I was when the paper in my hand burst into flames. I mean, we did have a theme going with that.
I ran to the sink and flung it in. I was about to blast it with water when it turned into a bright blue ball of light, silently exploded, and disappeared without a smudge of ash left behind. It didn’t even smell like smoke. Jack’s note was there—and then totally not there. It might as well have never existed. I leaned against the sink and felt dizzy.
Claire was beside me with a hand over her mouth.
“Holy crap, Grace.” Zoey looked down into the empty sink and then back at me.
“Yeah.” I don’t know why, but I turned on the water and washed my hands then. I’m not sure if I did the whole twenty second thing you’re supposed to.
Christine Potter is a writer and poet who lives in a (for-real) haunted house in New York’s Hudson River Valley, not that far from Sleepy Hollow. She is the author of Evernight Teen’s Bean Books, a five book series that travels through time—and two generations of characters. Christine is has also been a teacher, a bell ringer in the towers of old churches, a DJ, and a singer of all kinds of music. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines like Rattle and Kestrel, featured on ABC Radio News, and sold in gum ball machines. She lives with her organist husband Ken and two indulged kitties.
The After Times: Looking Back at Quarantine
Starting my life again after the Covid lockdowns was as intense anything I’ve done since getting married or graduating from college. I’m a New Yorker, from the lower Hudson River Valley, where I (just by the way) set all my books. We were absolutely flattened by the first wave of the pandemic here.
Our Spring 2020 went from a slightly nervous Valentine’s Day to the Empire State Building lit blood-red in honor of doctors and emergency workers–inside six weeks. If you don’t live here, you might not really understand just how dense the population is this near New York City. We’re talking tents-outside-of hospitals dense, even in the wooded northern suburbs. Think about those glittering New York City theatres. They were built in the 1920’s. People sit, act, and sing on top of each other. Musician friends told horror stories about entire casts getting sick at once—and then, of course, everything locked down.
My teacher/church musician husband Ken and I knew a whole family who died. They were colleagues of his. There was no vaccine, no proven treatment, not enough masks even for doctors.
After a few weeks, for the first time since I was about seven years old, I stopped writing. I had technical skills that were needed to keep Ken’s church choir performing safely, and I spent over a year at my computer with headphones on, mixing music for weekly worship, one track at a time, to keep folks healthy, connected, and employed. People sang into their iPhones, sent the recordings to me and I mixed them. And yeah, it actually worked.
When it was safe for Ken to perform in public again, I went back to young adult fiction. The book I had started right before the world shut down was set in those early pandemic weeks. Friends had jokingly referred to everything up until February or March of 2020 as The Before Times. So it was clear what my new book would be called: The After Times.
It was time-travel, after all! I needed a conclusion to my time traveling Bean Books, a series about a group of people gifted with the ability to Travel, or to disappear into the past. My main characters are two young girls, Bean Donohue in the first three books, and Grace Ingraham in the second two (although Bean remains important throughout the series).
I thought about wiping the pandemic out of the book, writing as if it never happened—but that ultimately felt dishonest. The beginning of the pandemic was something we all went through together, and it hit young adults—teens—hard. As I was trying to get The After Times back up and running again, I saw Stephen King interviewed on a late night talk show. He’d had a book set in 2020, he said, and he’d been working on it—but ultimately moved it back a few years so as not to have to deal with quarantines and masks. Stephen King might be scared, but I am not!
So here we have it. A work of YA fantasy that asks the question: is traveling in time breaking quarantine? My book’s answer? Welp, maybe, but…. And can Love save the day if you can’t even go downtown without a mask on? The answer is a firm, firm YES.
My favorite happy ending of all my books is in the conclusion of The After Times—which, by the way, also concludes the Bean series. (The book does stand alone just fine, if you must!) It’s a wacky shaggy dog story (all my books are) with a tornado, an unexpected riot girl, gratuitous patriarchy-smashing, a kittycat, and lots of zipping back and forth through the decades. Oh—and there’s pizza. And too much sushi. And vinyl records. It’s an awfully good ride. I’ll hope you’ll come along.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Christine-Potter/e/B001K7URHS/
This post is part of a tour. The tour dates can be found here: https://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2022/08/nbtm-after-times-by-christine-potter.html
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