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April White finds time to share her love of books

“Immortal Descendants: Marking Time” is a young adult fantasy novel about time travel
By: Paul Cambra, Features Editor
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“Immortal Descendants: Marking Time”
Who:
April White
What: Book signing and wine tasting
When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17
Where: Naggiar Vineyards and Winery, 18125 Rosemary Lane, Grass Valley
Info: www.naggiarvineyards.com, www.immortaldescendants.com

When it comes to time travel, April White has a thing or two to say on the subject.
No, she’s not planning any quantum leaps through the space-time continuum. It’s just that her love of the fantasy genre has led her to write “Immortal Descendants: Marking Time,” a young-adult novel about a 21st-century American teen who finds herself in Victorian England. There’s a mysterious stranger, a charming school chum and, oh yes, Jack the Ripper.
White’s own timeline stays in a linear dimension but follows a fascinating path. Born and raised in Auburn, she attended Bowman Elementary and graduated from Placer High School in 1986.
When she was 12, she hiked through the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal with her father, Bill White, a former local attorney. After earning an English degree at UC Santa Barbara, she worked as a bouncer, a bartender, a special-ed teacher, even a private investigator before settling into the film industry, where she met her husband, Ed. The couple lives in Los Angeles with their two sons. White will be in the area this weekend to sign copies of her book. We caught up with her via telephone and asked her about self-publishing, her inspiration for “Marking Time” and her early life in Auburn.

When did you know you wanted to write?
“I always wanted to tell stories because I was always a reader. When I was in sixth grade, I was going to be gone from school for six weeks to hike through the Himalayas. Instead of assigning me homework, my teacher handed me a blank journal and told me to fill it and that she wanted to read it when I got back. So I made sure to write something that would entertain her and justify the fact that she didn’t assign me six weeks’ worth of homework. She handed it back to me and thanked me for sharing an extraordinary experience with her. Getting that positive feedback was awesome.”

Was fantasy your favorite genre to read?
“My tastes have evolved, or slipped backward in a way. I loved mysteries and thrillers, but I stopped reading when I became a private investigator because they annoyed me. But an author can always surprise me with fantasy.”

Private investigator? Tell me more.
“I did it for awhile, but I didn’t want to be someone following guys whose wives think they are cheating on them. Besides, I’m six-foot-one and I drove a bright yellow LeSabre convertible. I wasn’t sneaking up on anyone.”
 
You have been speaking to high school English classes about reading, specifically fantasy books that you drew inspiration from. What are some of those books?
I love “The Ivanhoe Gambit,” from Simon Hawke’s TimeWars series. Hawke created rules for time travel that made sense to me, as opposed to Dr. Who, who breaks time travel rules but is still fun. Readers will believe a set of rules if it makes sense to them. I liberally borrowed my rules from that book. I also loved “On a Pale Horse,” the first in Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series. I loved the idea of these concepts time, death and fate as people. And my new favorite is the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (“The Name of the Wind,” “A Wise Man’s Fear”). I, along with thousands of readers, anxiously await book three. But check the “Books I Love” section on my website for updates.

Publishers say your target audience doesn’t want to read anything longer than 300 pages, yet your 17-year-old niece says the longer the better. You wrote this book for readers like her, but is length at all a concern?
“Not a concern. I am aware of my own need to cut myself down. It was a good thing when I got the feedback from the agents and publishers, it forced me to be rigorous, but if the story is there to tell, I have to tell it.”

Self publishing is a full-time job. Between courting the indie booksellers, steering internet traffic to your site and navigating the Amazon marketing business, have you found any time to write?
“I actually feel a very strong responsibility to the readers, I am getting such incredible feedback and great reviews. Without fail I am getting the comment ‘when is the next book coming out?’”

It’s an intriguing story line with many plot twists and surprises. Did the book’s plot evolve as you wrote or did you have it all mapped out from square one?
“I had it mapped out to a degree. I knew where I wanted to end up, but I wrote myself into corners, which proved to be game changers in the book. They made it much better. I found things I wasn’t expecting.”

What is next for your heroine, Saira?
“Let’s just say book two opens with a scene that involves Nostradamus and torture.”

You can meet April White on Sunday, Feb. 17, at Naggiar Vineyards and Winery in Grass Valley, where she will be signing copies of her book.