To be honest, I’ve been procrastinating about writing this post. So far, I’ve told you about the inspiration behind my two main characters: Talie Tappler and Mr. Cognis. I’ve also told you how my favorite professor from college gave me the first half of a story idea.
But where did the second half come from? Unfortunately, that’s a more challenging thing to explain. There’s a part of the story—a crucial part—that’s not really my story to tell. So when we get there, I’ll skip over it.
My Day Job
I work at a small TV station doing video production stuff for the local news. A few years back, we had this reporter—nice, bubbly sort of girl—who felt like she kept covering the same stories over and over again.
Every row home fire, every drug deal gone wrong, every missing person case, every domestic dispute… 95% of the time, these stories ended the same way.
One day, this reporter dropped by the editing room, and we wound up chatting. She was having a rough day. Her assignment involved a local family. The details of what happened to this family, and what would ultimately happen to this family, are not mine to tell. Not in a blog post like this.
The important thing is that this reporter was almost in tears because she knew exactly how the situation was going to play out. She’d covered similar stories enough times. It was like she knew the future, and there was nothing she could do to change it.
Tomorrow’s News Today
My old English professor had suggested I write a book about journalists in space. Basically, my professor was telling me to write what I know. But the idea of reporters flying about on news shuttles, rather than driving around in news vans, didn’t excite me.
Journalists in space might be based on what I know from my professional life, but it didn’t encapsulate everything I’ve learned about the news business. There was something missing. Something critical that my reporter friend was hinting at.
What about journalists in time? What about a news agency that could, through the magic of time travel, bring you tomorrow’s news today? Could that work? It occurred to me that the rules of time travel (don’t interfere with history) have a surprising parallel with the rules of journalism (don’t interfere with your story). That felt to me like a concept worth exploring.
I’d have to let these thoughts percolate for a while. A long while. But between this conversation I had at work and the previous conversation I’d had with my professor, the seeds were now sown for the Tomorrow News Network series.