I had many readers for early manuscripts of CeeGee’s Gift, from elementary, middle grade and high school students to adults and older adults. After they finish the story we talk, and I like to ask them—What do you think is the time period of the book’s setting?
For the young readers, it is just an earlier time, but for most of the adult readers, it is when they were a child. They seem to see the time of their own youth through the lens of CeeGee’s eyes. I’ve had adult readers tell me the book is set in any decade from the 40’s to the 70’s.
This is a bit of a trick question because I tried hard to leave the time up to the reader. Unlike most contemporary novels, where the time is constructed in detail, whether past, present or some dystopian future, CeeGee’s Gift is set in a timeless town where everything seems to stay the same as it has always been. In addition, I was careful not to add clues that might suggest a particular era. For example, while there are cars, no make or model is identified. While there are a few phone calls, the phone is by the bed or on the kitchen counter, there is no description of dialing, push buttons or wireless. There are schools and playing fields, but no description of the lessons, games or rules that might signal then, or now.
It was fun as an author to try to obscure time. I was always asking myself, do drugstores still have soda fountains? Do people still sit and chat on front porches? How long have kids been riding skim boards on the edge of the tide? Thank goodness libraries still have actual books.
What do you think is the time period of CeeGee’s Gift? And how do you characterize the time of your own youth? Were there timeless elements? A curious author would love to know.