Today I’m giving some space to fellow author Greg Mitchell, author of The Coming Evil Trilogy. Specifically, we’re talking about his new Young Adult time travel/multiverse skipping adventure novel Rift Jump from Splashdown Books. I’m fascinated by the notion of multiple realities, as is evidenced when you get deeper along into Merkabah Rider.
From the back of the book:
“A sinister threat is growing in the void between realities, and teenager Michael Morrison has been recruited to stop it. Ripped from his own violent life, he is sent rift jumping to other worlds seeking out the agents of the Dark and putting them to an end by any means necessary. The love of his life, Sara, joins him as he battles Civil War spaceships, sea serpents, superpowered humans, and even his own duplicate from a parallel timeline.
But the darkness he fights is growing within him too, calling him to the same destiny as every other Michael from every other world. If he is to change his fate, he must learn to love, to forgive, to trust, and to let the man in the Stetson guide him to become the warrior of the Light he was always meant to be.”
What influenced you into wanting to write about a hero traversing multiverses?
I was in high school when I first came up with the idea of Rift Jump. I’ve never been the kind of writer who just imagines thousands of different story ideas. I’ve always wanted to create a concept or a character that I could get behind and one that could fit endless adventures. Back then, I was desperate to come up with my Big Idea. Michael Morrison was very much the product of my adolescence. He’s everything that I wasn’t—strong, fearless, street smart, confident with the ladies, etc. I really clung to him as an avatar for my teenage self. But I needed something for him to fight, and I couldn’t decide on a single mythology. Was it a mythology populated by super villains or monsters or aliens or criminals? All these years later I realize that I could have made a single story-world with all those types of characters, but back then I thought those different ideas were irreconcilable. Which led me to the idea of a multiverse. That opened up endless possibilities for the kinds of stories I could tell or the kinds of foes Michael could encounter. I was convinced that, that way, I would never get bored by settling on a single concept. Michael could fight vampires in one story, stop an alien invasion in the next, and then fight some Earth-grown terrorists. Not very inspired, mind you, just a way to amuse myself, really.
Did you make a conscious effort to create a young adult hero or a story geared towards young adults?
Again, when I started thinking about Rift Jump, I WAS a young adult, so I didn’t see anything unique about it. As I got older and decided I wanted to dust off the concept and write it “for real”, I never considered making Michael an adult. Being a teenager is such a singular experience and completely integral to Michael as a character and to my mindset when I first created him. So, rather than dodging the fact he was a teenager, I wanted to explore the subject matter with as much honesty as I could. In the story, he starts rift jumping when he’s twelve. That was always in the original idea. Looking back, that was really stupid, but, hey, I was fifteen, what did I know? But instead of changing it, I decided to break it down. What WOULD it be like for a 12-year-old to be on his own in a multiverse, toppling evil empires for the next five years? How terrifying would that be? How lonely? Add to that a journey through adolescence and all the conflicting and wild emotions that come with that. I drew a lot from my own experiences as a teenager and the insecurities I felt. I didn’t write about those emotions back in high school because the wounds were still being inflicted and it was too personal, but as a (mostly) well-adjusted thirty-something adult with a beautiful and supportive wife and two great kids, I felt safe enough to go back and face all those teenage demons in full truth. At times it was very raw returning to those days, but cathartic. The writing is a lot more honest than I was capable of when I was a kid. Rift Jump is fairly unflinching in its portrayal of being a scared, confused, angry teenager. I didn’t really envision myself writing for a younger audience, but now that it’s out, I certainly hope that young adults can read this and relate to it and realize they’re not alone in what they’re feeling—but also see something to aspire to. When you’re a teenager, you can’t always see past that, but there’s a whole world and a whole life beyond high school. But we can so easily screw that life up by the impulsive decisions we make in our youth. We have the power to choose who we are going to be: that’s the entire thrust of Rift Jump.
Do you believe in the possibility of multiple, concurrently existing realities or timelines? Now I ask this solely because your other series The Coming Evil has a definite Judeo-Christian influence and you yourself are a Christian – do you think such a belief could be reconciled with faith in intelligent design in the universe?
Well, I don’t know if I’d stake my life on it, but I think it could be possible. And I certainly feel God would still be at the center of it all. I have a very big view of God. He’s infinite. Who knows what He has set up or what He’s maintaining right now. I do believe that God exists outside of space and time, which means He is in every moment at once—past, present, future. Does that mean He could also be existing in dimensions parallel to our own at the same time? I think He absolutely could. He’s God.
That’s one of the concepts I wanted to explore in the book. When I began writing Rift Jump, some of the questions I asked myself up front were, if there are multiple realities, are there multiple Gods? Multiple versions of heaven and hell? Ultimately I decided on God being a singular entity that exists outside of all realities. Likewise, there is only one heaven, one hell, one set of angels and demons, if you will. That’s where the concept came from for the “In-Between”, the space between the planes of reality where all the “supernatural” stuff exists, completely unaffected by the crude material world of the multiverse. Ultimately in my concept, the multiverse boils down to a construct of Choice. In the Bible, God gave us freewill to choose—so we have the option of following Him or rejecting Him, of being righteous or being wicked. So, just as you have one reality where you chose good things, there’s another reality where you chose bad things. That’s choice. In Rift Jump, God is present in all realities with full knowledge of all possibilities and outcomes—just as I feel would be the case if parallel realities actually exist. The question then becomes, does one reality have to exist for the other to, as well? Can you REALLY “choose good” if there’s only one reality—one choice? Does there need to be a reality where you chose wrongly, in order for there to be a reality where you chose right? That was my thinking going into Rift Jump. As to whether or not I believe all of that is a factor in our real world—I wouldn’t totally count it out, but that’s above my pay grade. I strive to make good choices that honor God and make the most out of my particular plane of reality—but I do often wonder about that other Greg who might exist somewhere in the multiverse, who chose to go down all the wrong paths in life. I’m curious as to what his life might be like now. I don’t think I would want to meet that Greg in a dark alley.
Is there a possibility that Rift Jump will continue as a series, or is it intended as a standalone effort?
I’m working on a follow-up to Rift Jump right now that serves as a companion piece to this book. Rift Jump is Michael’s story, but its follow-up will mostly be about his true love Sara and the changes she goes through as a result of the things that happen in this book. Young love is a powerful thing, but even the Bible warns against waking it before it so desires “for love is as strong as death, and its jealously as unyielding as the grave.” That’s what the follow-up is about. It ties up all the loose ends from the first book into a pretty epic, tear-jerking conclusion. They make a nice set. After that, I don’t have any more planned, but in a multiverse of infinite possibilities, anything can happen, I suppose.
Rift Jump is available on Amazon/Kindle and all other digital formats on Smashwords. Here’s a link to the publisher’s site, which includes links to all formats: