If the New York bit is meant to be the modern portion, why 1999? Other than the fact that it’s an inherently cool year (as in “party like it’s….”).
There were three major reasons for the choice of 1999, and not just because everything works better in threes.
1. On a very practical level, I knew that the historical story was deeply rooted in a very particular time frame, World War I Britain and the fallout that followed, and I needed to make sure that my historical heroine, Addie, could still plausibly be alive at the time the modern events were taking place. Addie is just about fourteen when World War I breaks out, eighteen when the war ends, and ninety-nine in 1999. The modern story opens with her 99th birthday party.
2. No Google. We take so for granted the many technological tools at our disposal these days. It was very important that my modern heroine, Clemmie, not have access to any of them. Remember back in the old days when you actually needed to go to the archives to do genealogical work? When you needed a trained researcher to help you find documents? I needed to make it impossible for Clemmie to find out about her family history without really working for it– or asking for help from her step-cousin, Jon, a historian with experience with archives. Amazing, isn’t it, to think how much the world has changed since 1999? Clemmie has a blackberry– as a senior associate at a large law firm, she’s at the forefront of that– but no Google, no smartphone, and certainly no Facebook.
3. Symbolism. I couldn’t resist. Remember all the huge fuss over the millennium back in the winter of ’99? It seemed highly appropriate to put some of the pivotal points of Clemmie’s life on New Year’s Eve as she learns secrets about her family that challenge her very sense of who and what she is….
More about Ashford coming up soon!