Interview with Amy Jarecki, Author of Time Warriors

04 May 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, Time Warriors?

I started writing Time Warriors after I earned my black belt in karate. It’s about Genesis Mans, a sixteen-year-old champion who is recruited into a secretive and exclusive academy for martial artists. But after she arrives, she discovers there are secrets lurking around every corner. But secrets only serve to make her curious, even after Noah, the best fighter in school, warns her off. But Genesis can’t ignore her mounting curiosity or what seems to be a developing second sight, and her inquisitiveness ends up getting the better of her when she takes a hike up to the off-limits cliffs complete with a natural red-rock archway shaped like a dragon. What she doesn’t know is she has discovered a gateway into the past, and in the next few minutes she’ll be traveling through time with Noah and mastermind Amir in her wake. Their mission? Find the Qiang and stop them from altering the past…except they have no idea where they’re going or what the Qiang are planning. Worse, if they fail, they just might return to an unrecognizable present.

Time Warriors is a YA action/adventure with a budding hint of romance. I love writing time travel stories and won a RONE Award for Best Time Travel for Rise of a Legend, book one in the Guardian of Scotland series.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Only five? That’s going to kill me! Anyway, some of the best time traveling books I’ve read are: Timebound by Resa Walker, Just one Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor, and Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor. I also loved Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, and Before we Were Yours by Lisa Wingate.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

If I were going to host a literary talk show, I’d invite Jamie Fraiser (okay, Sam Haughen) from Outlander, and the author of the series, Diana Gabaldon. I’d like to know from Jamie how he feels about his time-traveling wife and the fact that he can’t travel with her. I think it would be interesting to get both the author and the actor’s perspective on the matter!

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

To be honest, the best part of writing a book is revising after I’ve written the first draft. The hardest part is getting the story down and no matter how much plotting I do, there are always unexpected twists and turns that I have to work around and wrestle with…and my characters keep changing things on me (jeez!). Once I start revising, I can really build upon characterizations, settings, and amp up the excitement. Time Warriors is my 38th book, and no two stories have had the same process, except I always kick myself, thinking they’re horrible until I get that first draft done!

What is a typical day like for you?

I get up pretty early and in the mornings, I work on the business of being an author (you wouldn’t believe how time consuming social media and marketing is). I also try to get in a half-hour workout. About 11 a.m. I make my best attempt to block out all the business stuff and focus on writing until I have to start cooking dinner around 6 p.m. I usually read before bed, then watch some sort of documentary to turn my brain off. I hope to start traveling again soon. I visit the places I write about because it is important to me to stand on that very ground, breathe that very air, and understand what it feels like to be immersed there.

What scene from Time Warriors was your favorite to write?

As a black belt, I loved writing the fight scenes. One of my favorites is when Genesis is in the gym practicing with a Templar sword. Noah comes in and tries to convince her to quit by challenging her to a sparring match with wasters (wooden practice swords). But the scene doesn’t exactly play out as either one of them had planned:

I enter and the halogens automatically illuminate while I stride straight for the swords. We’ve been practicing with wooden wasters, but there’s a Templar replica I’ve been dying to swing. I rub my fingertips together before I wrap my hand around the leather hilt, draw the weapon from its scabbard, and hold it up.

It’s not as heavy as I would have thought—maybe three pounds. I slice the blade through the air a few times relishing the hiss, then I pick up the shield and slide my arm through the leather loops at the back. It’s made of wood and heavier than the sword. I imagine when wearing eighty pounds of chainmail, just moving an arm takes effort, let alone fighting nonstop for an hour or more, defending with the shield, striking with the sword.

I go through the positions Bashir has been teaching. Templar training is different than the Samurai sword training I had with Sensei Soto. The weapon isn’t balanced the same. Using a shield is awkward for me as well. I lunge and thrust against an imagined opponent. I raise the shield over my head in defense while I hack sideways, grunting with my clumsiness.

“You’d be better off using a two-handed great sword.”

I’m startled by the deep voice and even more stunned when I see who it is.

“Noah Jones?” I say, unsure why he’s here.

It’s the guy with the crystal blue-diamond eyes I saw at the helo pad a couple weeks ago. The one who told me to go home and made me feel like a total idiot. I know his name because he’s like the top martial artist in the school. Everyone knows him. But he’s not dressed like a medieval sage anymore. He’s wearing the standard uniform with a blue belt denoting he’s a third year—a college freshman—probably eighteen, I guess. I’ve seen him in the cafeteria and he’s glanced my way a couple of times, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know I exist. Well, maybe he does now.

“Two handed?” I ask. “Doesn’t the shield provide more protection?”

He saunters toward me, those intense eyes checking me out. “Not if you’re female and want to live.”

I set the shield on the mat and balance the sword in front of me with both hands. It feels a lot better and far more like the Samurai sword I use at home. I swing through the pattern of positions we’ve been working on with Bashir, incredibly aware of Noah’s scrutiny. He probably thinks I move like a sloth.

“So, Gen-e-sis,” he says, drawing out my name. I’m floored that he even knows it. “I thought I told you to go home.”

“Sorry.” I present the sword in en garde position as a bit of a challenge. I even level my gaze. Feeling no fear, my mind homes on my target. “I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. Besides, I didn’t realize you were the boss of me.”

I don’t like being bullied and I don’t appreciate any guy who’s rude to me regardless if he looks like Thor.

Even though I’m holding a weapon sharp enough to hack off his hand, he steps in and grabs my wrist. Applying only a hint of pressure to my ulnar nerve, he disarms me in a blink. He’s close enough for his scent to envelop me. The earthy fragrance is gone, replaced by worn-in leather reminding me of the Harleys parked outside the Muddy Hollow. But most of all, the scent alerts me of danger and makes electric tingles fire across my skin. I’m not sure if I’m attracted or turned off. It doesn’t matter. He’s made it clear he doesn’t give a rip about me and I’m not about to start acting like I’m thirsty for his attention.

Shifting my gaze to his face, I gulp. I’m five-foot nine, and he’s towering over me like I’m some sort of petite waif.

“Where are you from?” he asks, his tone kinda friendlyish.

I wonder why he cares. “Nevada. You?”

“Chicago.” He returns the sword to its place on the wall and retrieves two wooden wasters. “I guess it’s time to show you why you shouldn’t be here.”

I take one of the wasters and swing the practice sword in a circle. “Only me?”

“Women in general—unless you want to be support.” He backs away and assumes a medieval en garde position. “But something tells me you’re not here for I.T. like my little brother.”

I’m not, but I reckon he’s already figured that out. I mirror Noah’s stance. “You have a brother here?”

“Elias. He’s a white belt.”

Seriously? Noah and Elias are complete opposites, like Mutt and Jeff.

“He’s smart,” I say though I know Elias didn’t get more than a 60% on today’s Latin exam either.

“Yeah.”

My heartrate spikes when, with no notice, Noah bellows like a savage, heaves his waster over his head and attacks. I barely escape having my head cleaved in two by a wooden practice weapon when I manage to deflect. Darting aside, I regain my composure and circle. “Cheap shot, asshole.”

He smirks. “What? Did you think I’d go easy on you?”

I leap back with an empty fade, faking him out and returning with a thrust. “We’re sparring, right?”

Pivoting, he easily defends and passes back to my rear. “Are we?”

I hate having an opponent at my six. On full alert, I counter. “So, you want to kill me even though you hardly know me?”

“I want to show you why you shouldn’t be a fighter.” He’s faster and levels the wooden blade at my neck. “You’re dead.”

A spike of anger inside me jolts through my blood. I hate being told I can’t do something. With the pounding in my temples, I shift back to an en garde position—not holding the waster to the side like Bashir taught in medieval class, but forward as I learned from Sensei Soto. I take in a breath and relish the sensation of oxygen rushing through my blood. I don’t know how it happened before, but I did it in the ring at the tournament and again in the parking lot. I turn myself over to chakra’s subtle energy systems in the body. With my next six-count inhale, my mind goes to a place of utter tranquility.

Bring on the Zen.

“Are you ready?” Noah asks.

“Not going to blitz me?” My words come out breathless as if I’m half-asleep.

“Not with your eyes closed.”

When did I close them? It doesn’t matter. As I raise my lids, I see his attack in my mind’s eye. I’m already moving to deflect when he lunges with a sideways slice. We spar back and forth almost evenly matched until he cranks up the tempo.

My heart pumps with exertion, though I’m fighting like this is a dance—if it weren’t for the burning in my biceps from the brute strength required for every defense.

I can’t allow myself to think. He’s coming so fast, all I can do is sense his action and react, deflecting the brutal strikes of his waster. Swinging the wooden sword over his head, he hacks downward as I lunge aside and fend him off with an arcing umbrella defense. As our weapons connect, they both crack with deafening booms. The top half of my waster flies across the room while Noah’s hangs by a splinter.

“Holy shit,” he says, gaping at his mangled blade.

I pick up the broken piece of my sword and match it to the broken lower half. “I’ll bet you weren’t expecting that.”

He glares at me, those crystal blues turning to ice. “No, but you’re still no match for a man.”

“All right,” I agree. After all, I’ve never faced a man in competition. “Why do I need to be?”

“You don’t want to know.”

The whole mystery thing around here is getting to me. There are too many secrets. Why is Noah acting like a dick? Is he always this way? He has a good sixty pounds on me and I managed to hold my own against him, not to mention he also has two years of rigorous training at the academy beyond my newbie status.

“Is it because of the injured cadet?” I ask.

“Stacy.” His forehead furrows as his tone softens. “Her name is Stacy and she was injured because I couldn’t protect her.”

“Protect her from what?” I shouldn’t ask but the question just spills out of my mouth.

A white line forms between his lips. “You know that’s classified and you damned-well better not ask again, white belt.”

Oh great, pull the lowerclassman card and make me feel like a jackass. I know Grand Master Li told me to keep what I saw under wraps, but I’m dying to know more. It’s eating at me like being in the midst of a crime and never knowing who, what, when, why, or how. I’m not going to rush out and blab about it. I need to ask why Noah was dressed like a medieval dude. I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out what happened to Stacy. How did she end up bloodied and where is she now?

“Is Amir as good a fighter as you?” I ask, skirting a little but still fishing for more. I’ve learned the second boy’s name as well—he’s a brown belt, a fifth year. He’s probably twenty but he’s not physically as impressive looking as Noah.

The big guy tosses his broken waster in the trash. “Amir can hold his own.”

I make a mental note to watch the upperclassmen spar—if I ever get the chance. Surely there must be a role for women martial artists here, otherwise why was I recruited or Ziana or any of the female cadets?

I throw my two halves away and head for the door.

“Genesis,” Noah says as I reach for the latch, the sound of my name making goosebumps skitter up my arms.

I stop, but don’t look at those icy eyes—eyes so intense I know they’ll make me doubt myself all the more.

“If you’re planning to stay, do me a favor and aim for a desk job,” he says, not sounding edgy, but his tone is filled with concern. Does he really think I’m some kind of delicate flower?

No way. I head out while fury shoots through me. Little does he know he’s just thrown down the gauntlet.

“I’ve never been one to resist a challenge,” I say before the door closes behind me.

Amy Jarecki is the author of the new book Time Warriors

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