Time-jump novels—sometimes called split-time novels—are a fiction subgenre gathering interest and readers thanks to compelling history and excellent storytelling. Time-jumps combine at least two different storylines, each set in different time periods and linked in some way.
In Heidi Chiavaroli’s Freedom’s Ring, a ring links the tales. In Rachel Hauck’s best-seller The Wedding Shop, it’s a building. In Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept, a mother’s will sends her daughter back to Nazi Germany.
“This genre has been under the radar for some time,” says Jan Stob, director of fiction for Tyndale House. “There’s so much to learn from the past. The themes and challenges of living in a fallen world are still true today. Dealing with things such as perseverance, faith, sacrifice, and healing aren’t that different today than they were years ago.”
Karli Jackson, associate acquisitions editor with HarperCollins Christian Publishing, says that split-time novels “have a special appeal because they give readers two perspectives. While these perspectives are happening in different decades, the plots, challenges, and circumstances often play on timeless themes.”
The biggest challenge is what Stob calls “connective tissue,” the item or event that ties the storylines together. Another issue is how to market the books. Are they contemporary or historical novels? Stob’s team looks at the hook, at which time period drives the story, and which is more marketable. Retailers can look at the cover for placement, she advises. If it looks like a historical novel, shelve it in that section.
“From a marketing perspective, time-jump novels allow us to broaden our reach into historical or contemporary audiences,” says Stob.
Other time-jump novels include Melanie Dobson’s Catching the Wind and the upcoming “The Lost Castle” series by Kristy Cambron, the first of which releases in early 2018. Early time-jumps include Penelope Stokes’ The Blue Bottle Club and The Amethyst Heart.
“There’s a strong connection to previous generations in our own families that we get to explore in stories like these,” says Jackson. “We learn a lot about ourselves when we uncover the mysteries of our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ lives.”