When we are inexplicably drawn to love and a particular place, is it coincidence, or something more?
Rich in history, mystery and foreshadow, “A Portal in Time” is an intertwined story of two lives set in different time periods in California’s hauntingly beautiful, Carmel-by-the-Sea on the Monterey Peninsula. The words and actions of the vibrant characters in this mysterious historical fiction story fit seamlessly together, bridging the time frames like pieces of a puzzle that keep the reader in suspense until the very last page.
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Reviews for A Portal in Time
“This is a very charming debut novel with engaging characters, sensory-rich detailed settings, and a well-crafted plot. The story moves effortlessly between two time periods one hundred years apart with two different casts of characters who share a mysterious bond. The author captured the essence of time periods and kept me both entertained and guessing till the very end.” – Amazon user
“I was captivated by a tale that is told so beautifully by an obviously intuitive woman. She’s able to put moments of unusual clarity into words that are easily understood and envisioned by the reader. Her descriptions are so complete that I can see every scene in my head – and they’re rich with color, sound and scents. The book makes me want to go straight to Carmel to see it all for myself. Not limited to a supernatural theme, ‘A Portal In Time’ is a story of love and respect between families, friends and lovers.” – Kelly Fisher, Amazon user
“A PORTAL IN TIME begins with a puzzle and ends with a shock. The story in between tells of two women, both artistic and strong-willed, who share a mysterious bond in time as well as a peculiar affinity for a lovely and haunting strip of California coast called Carmel-by-the-Sea. The author weaves a tale finely drawn, meticulously researched, and beautifully descriptive that draws the reader in from page one and does not let go until the final dramatic revelation.” – Judith Ingram, Amazon user
March 18, 1999
West Hollywood, California
“What’s this all about?” Lucia pulled out a chair across from her sister. They sat outside on the sidewalk in front of the King’s Head Café in West Hollywood amidst the hum of traffic and the flow of patrons looking for available seating on Beverly Boulevard. “You sounded funny on the phone.”
“I sounded funny?”
“You sounded mysterious,” Lucia clarified.
“I didn’t want to get into it on the phone. I thought I’d wait to talk to you in person.”
“All right, I’m listening.” Lucia settled back into her chair and looked at Anna expectantly.
“You’re not going to believe this, but Kevin brought up the subject of marriage the other day.”
“Why wouldn’t I believe that? It’s perfectly understandable to me. Isn’t it to you?” Lucia laughed. “What did you say when he brought up the subject?”
“I skirted the issue, of course.” Anna’s tone suggested Lucia should know that.
“Wait a minute, did he just bring up the subject or did he ask you to marry him?”
“Well, it seemed to me he was testing the waters, but what he said was ‘God help me, I’m married to a witch.’ I’m not sure I was supposed to hear it, but that’s exactly what he said,” Anna told her.
“Wait a minute, back up, I’m getting lost. Were you doing something that made him call you a witch, or was he just making a general observation because he’s had enough time to realize that you are a little touched in that way?”
“In what way?” Anna sounded defensive.
“Come on, Anna, anyone who knows you knows you’re bent towards the uncanny, and I mean that with nothing but love.” Lucia tried to suppress a smile. “You’re the same way that Mom was—obviously these things run in families.”
Anna felt the immediate tug of her heartstrings at the mention of their mother, who had died of leukemia two and a half years earlier. Her illness had been a harrowing experience to both her and Lucia, absolutely draining them emotionally for the two years prior to her death. Her slow decline compounded the loss of their father when they were only teenagers, and now that both parents were gone, Anna and Lucia only had each other. Anna conjured the memory of their mother’s face, her tall elegance, and demure ways, and recalled that she, too, had an intuitive ability that everyone who knew her remarked upon.
“I don’t know that I’m anywhere near the way Mom was.” Anna leaned back. “Do you remember how she always knew what we were up to when we were little? There was no point in ever trying to fool her about anything because she always knew the truth.”
“Of course, because you’ve always been a terrible liar. Everything you’re thinking is always written on your face. You were the one who always gave us away to Mom, not me,” Lucia reminded.
“That’s not entirely true,” Anna volleyed. “I remember the time you tried to sneak out the upstairs window at night and found Mom sitting on the garden bench under the tree you used because she’d picked up on what you were thinking practically before you even decided to do it. She could tell just by looking at you!”
“You’re right about that.” Lucia nodded. “Mom was something else altogether, wasn’t she? I’m convinced she was clairvoyant. I think she knew how to read us both. I really do miss her every day. I think of her every time I see a sunset, every time I feel the change of seasons in the air, every time I see the full moon. She made such an event out of the little things in life, didn’t she?”
“She definitely did. She placed great importance on ceremonies and symbolism and things like that,” Anna said. “I see so many things the same way she did because she taught us how.”
“I do, too. What she did to the exact spot where Dad had his car wreck is a perfect example.”
“Well, a lot of people do a similar thing. I see markers on the side of the road all the time. Standing crosses with bouquets of flowers under them at the scene of a fatal accident. It’s a commemoration of a particular place where something significant happened.”
“Yes, but it was so much more to Mom than that,” Lucia reminded Anna. “That’s why she buried the key where Dad got in the accident. Do you recall that night? It was only two days after Dad died, but somehow Mom managed to set aside her grief in order to take care of business. She woke us up after midnight and told us to get in the car because we were going to conduct a ceremony.”
“I remember.” Anna cast her eyes down, then looked back up at Lucia. “She was always teaching us, no matter the circumstances.”
“She was. Mom taught us everything she believed. She was unselfish in that way.”
“I remember the cross she hammered into the ground and how she knelt and buried the key beside it, then camouflaged it with a rock. It was so important to Mom that we understand. I remember kneeling beside her to pray, and how she looked at me and asked if I understood the meaning of the word portal.”
Lucia’s eyes twinkled. “I remember you didn’t have a clue.”
“How was I supposed to know Mom wanted to leave Dad the key to a door so he could come back whenever he wanted?”
“Well, I can’t say I had a better understanding at the time. I knew a portal was an entrance, or a door of some kind, but I didn’t know until that night that a portal was spontaneously created at the scene of an accident.”
“Mom made it sound as if Dad chose that specific spot to walk through to the other side. She told me time was trapped, or rather stopped permanently, so that Dad could come and go through the door between worlds. She meant it and had absolutely no doubt.” Anna folded her arms across her chest as if a chill had reached her.
“Not to change the subject,” Anna continued, “but you do know some people can look through these doors if they’re sensitive to such things, right?”
Lucia narrowed her eyes. “I do know, and I think that’s the entire point. It’s about sensitivity, isn’t it? Maybe places where tragic events take place are more energetically charged, so to speak.”
About the author
Claire Fullerton is the author of historical fiction with a mysterious tone, “A Portal in Time,” (Vinspire Publishing). She is a two time award winning essayist, a newspaper columnist, a contributor to numerous magazines, and a multiple contributor to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. Claire was the runner-up in the 2013 San Francisco Writers Conference’s contest and a finalist in the same conferences’ contest of 2014. Her second novel, “Dancing to an Irish Reel,” which is set in Connemara Ireland, will be published by Vinspire in early 2015, and currently, she is at work on her third novel.
Claire Fullerton’s website is www.clairefullerton.com. She also has a blog on “The Writer’s Life” at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton/blog
Interview with Holly Hewson
HH: Claire, thank you so much for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is A Portal in Time. Where did you get the idea for this magnificent tale?
CF: I love this question because this is a true story: the idea for “A Portal in Time” came to me during a trip my husband and I took up the California coast to Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is like a little Cotswold village on the hauntingly beautiful Monterey Peninsula. The place is like something from another era with its craftsman cottages everywhere set amongst pine trees and cypress groves overlooking the misty sea. We’d made reservations for the weekend at Carmel’s historic La Playa Hotel, and everything about the lobby captured my interest. The lobby looked as if it had once been somebody’s drawing room with its travertine floors, sand-stone fireplace, and sweeping Mediterranean tiled staircase. As my husband checked us in, I circled around the lobby imagining what it would be like to live in a house like this. There were old, sepia tinted photographs of people in period clothing and maps on the wall depicting the era when the hotel had been built, which was somewhere around 1900. My eyes kept going to the lobby’s staircase, and I imagined myself climbing to the top, thinking surely there is a master bedroom up there with a bay window that looks out over a manicured garden with a view to the sea. I imagined myself in period clothing ( long ivory linen skirt, a lace blouse, perhaps a filigreed broach) standing looking out of the bay window, then I asked myself why I’d be doing that, what I’d be looking for. “A Portal in Time” is the mysterious story of two uncannily intertwined relationships from different time periods that brought me to that very window!
HH: What do you like best about Anna and what will readers like about her?
CF: Anna is gifted with what I call “dependable intuition,” in that she has second sight. It comes to her naturally and her mother was wired the same way. Because of this, Anna is also creative and a bit off-beat. In the story, she is actually in the process of taking a class to develop her intuition, and I decided to tell the reader a bit about how this is done ( once upon a time, I actually took a class on this!) If someone is interested in the subject of intuition, ESP and past lives, this is the book for them!
HH: What do you like best about Kevin and why will readers love him?
CF: Kevin Townsend is Anna’s opposite in that he is practical, grounded, goes by the facts. He is of Norwegian descent, has long blond hair and blue eyes and is fascinated by Anna. When the two met in the elevator of an apartment building in Los Angeles, Kevin is immediately captivated. He is attentive and reliable, yet there is also something about him that is cool. Kevin is the kind of guy who appreciates and revels in Anna’s peculiarities, which means he brings out the best in her.
HH: What sort of research went into this tale to bring it so vividly to life?
CF: I spent a lot of time in Carmel’s library researching everything about Carmel’s history. I wanted to know about the people who first came to the region, how they dressed in 1900; how they spoke; how they spent their time. I needed to find out specific things, such as when the train tracks from San Francisco to the Monterey Peninsula were laid, when the telegraph first came to America, that kind of thing. What fascinated me the most is how people spoke back then: it was actually the King’s English, so half “A Portal in Time” is written in that jargon.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
CF: I am thrilled to report that my novel, “Dancing to an Irish Reel” will be published by Vinspire Publishing in early 2015. It is women’s fiction and is set in rural Ireland. It tells the story of a single American female who moves from Los Angeles to Ireland, ( so she’s a fish-out-of-water) becomes employed at the Galway Music Center, and falls in love with a famous, Irish traditional musician who won’t come closer nor completely go away! It is an insightful story into the dynamic of new love, and is also a rollicking ride through picturesque rural Ireland with a young, energetic group of friends.
HH: What inspires you in your writing?
CF: I believe I’m like many writers: we’re all trying to decode this business of life as well as the living, breathing emotional world within us. I tell stories to entertain, yet also to make a point, share a particular view, suggest a personal insight so readers can look at it and compare their own view.
HH: What can do you enjoy when you’re not writing?
CF: Three things spring to mind: I have two female German shepherds and two black cats who occupy a lot of space in my days. I also love long walks– anywhere: the beach, through the woods, through neighborhoods; I don’t care where I walk, I just like walking because I do my best thinking when I walk. Lastly, I’ve been a ballet practitioner for as long as I can remember. At one time, I taught a combination ballet/Pilates mat class and although I no longer teach, I still practice both.
HH: What are you reading?
CF: I just finished Donna Tartts, “The Goldfinch” last night. It’s more than 700 pages so it’s still rattling around in my head! Now I’ll get back to Anya Seaton’s “Katherine,” which many say is the definitive standard in historical fiction.
HH: What goals have you set for yourself this year?
CF: I am well into the process of writing a novel set in the South. It is a family saga set in Memphis, where I grew up. Also, I am planning a trip to Ireland because my next novel, “Dancing to an Irish Reel” will be out in 2015. I need to get over there and touch base!
HH: Where can readers find you online?
CF: ww.clairefullerton.com as well as my blog on Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388895.Claire_Fullerton/blog where I ponder the writer’s life. I just like sharing insights about the writing process as they occur to me.