Bee Ridgway grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is a professor of 19th-century American literature at Bryn Mawr College. THE RIVER OF NO RETURN is her first novel, a time travel adventure that draws from several genres including science fiction, historical fiction, romance, and mystery. She was recently interviewed by Cheryl Malandrinos.
Why did you become a writer?
One answer: I became a writer on July 23, 2011. Having never really even dreamed of doing so, I sat down and began writing a novel. The first draft came out in a mad rush, as if I’d been bottling up my creative writing energies for years and the pressure had built like water behind a dam. Another answer: I’ve always been a writer. I am the daughter of a minister and a poet, and the sister of three writers. I grew up surrounded by stories, songs, philosophical and theological debates, family arguments and jokes . . . every single thing in my life was structured around narrative, and the highest achievement in my big family was being able to capture everyone’s attention and keep them enthralled with a story or a joke or an argument.
What is the most rewarding part of being a writer? The most frustrating?
The most rewarding part of being a writer is writing. The must frustrating is not writing. It’s that simple.
Can you tell us about your latest release?
THE RIVER OF NO RETURN came out this year. It is a time travel adventure novel with a love story at its heart. Vanity Fair called it “a thrill ride” and the Washington Post said it had “the feel of an instant classic.” It’s the story of a man who jumps forward in time two hundred years to discover that time travel is controlled by a nefarious corporation called the Guild. He must learn enough about his talent to find his way home again to join the league of time travelers fighting against the Guild and their plan to control the future itself.
What inspired it?
So many things. Perhaps most of all, I was inspired by my students. I teach 19th century American Literature at Bryn Mawr College, and I find that encouraging students to love literature written a couple of hundred years before their birth is much like teaching them to travel in time. In my novel, time travel works by hooking on to the rivers of human feeling that drive history forward. Teaching the literature of the 19th century involves training students to be tuned to and to feel currents of feeling that might, at first, seem entirely foreign to them. When they catch on, when the fall through time into the lap of an amazing novel, it is a truly beautiful thing.
You’re sitting on the Raising the Dead: Transforming History into Fiction at this year’s WriteAngles Conference. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning?
My novel is a genre mash-up extravanza, and it owed much to the genre of historical fiction. I plan to talk about how the fantasy of time travel dovetails with my dedication to historical accuracy, to precise detail. Needless to say the two don’t necessarily go together!
What are you working on now?
I’m writing a novella, a prequel to THE RIVER OF NO RETURN, entitled THE TIME TUTOR. It will be released as an ebook a month before the paperback release of the novel, in March.
Where can we find you online?
Is there anything you would like to add?
I grew up in Amherst Massachusetts – I’m very much looking forward to coming home again!