ORINDA -- While she's no superhero, Tamara Ireland Stone has the power to go back and forth in time -- at least through fiction.
The Orinda author of "Time Between Us," a recently released young adult novel, said she's stuck in the mid-1990s and she can time travel to that time period anytime she wants to in her writing.
Her debut novel, published in 16 languages and optioned for film, pairs an unlikely-to-meet-in-real-life teenage couple -- Anna, who lives in a 1995 Chicago suburb and Bennett, who lives in 2012 San Francisco -- in a time-travel love story that Stone said she had fun writing while fulfilling a lifelong dream of publishing a novel.
For Stone, revisiting the mid-1990s was a chance to reminisce about her own real-life romance.
"It was fun to travel back in time to relive all these 'firsts' in my life," said Stone, who lived in Evanston, a Chicago suburb, while her then-boyfriend, now husband, was attending graduate school there.
Even though Stone grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley and as a teen, helped her father out with technology projects, she remembers a time before the e-Reader era when her greatest refuge was curling up with Judy Blume novels.
"There was a joke that I grew up in every city that starts with San -- South San Francisco, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo and San Jose," said Stone, a mother of two children.
She had early aspirations to become a journalist, spending hours working with the high school newspaper and graduating from Chico State with a degree in journalism and communications. But she decided to venture into the world of public relations in Silicon Valley. It was a chance to combine her two passions -- technology and writing. For the past 12 years, Stone has been co-owner of a Silicon Valley marketing communications firm.
Years later, technology would play a huge role in her creative writing process.
"Once I got hooked on the story, I couldn't tell it fast enough," she said. "I wrote a lot of the novel on my iPhone."
Stone, a film junkie, studied narrative structures of films and visualized scenes from her own novel as though she could picture them on screen at a movie theater.
For a while, she stopped watching TV, preferring instead to connect with her own characters, and couldn't wait to get out of work meetings to jot down ideas and write scenes for her novel.
"I would build a scene then figure out later where it would go," Stone said. "I liked to think of scenes as Lego blocks -- I was excited to see what would happen next."
While the heart of "Time Between Us," is a love story, Stone emphasizes that young Anna is a strong character that young readers can look up to.
Stone has already been invited to speak to several local mother-daughter and teen book clubs as she's busy on a book tour.
"'Time Between Us' pulls the reader in. I picked up the book on a Friday and finished that Sunday," said Sophie Fuller, 16, a student at Miramonte High School. "There's Emma, whose British sass makes her such a fun and interesting character. Anna, who is so inspiring and relatable; and Bennett, whose mysterious edge makes you want to keep reading."
Shona McCarthy, 16, of Pleasanton, an exchange student in Marbella, Spain, said she has enjoyed Stone's novel which has kept her company while she's away from home.
"Anna's character evokes the part of every teenage girl that dreams of adventure," said Shona. "She is bold enough to chase those big dreams and is willing to sacrifice to achieve them. That inspires me to seize every opportunity.
"I write this while sitting in my Spanish home, overlooking the Mediterranean with a view of Africa, literally a world away from my real home in Pleasanton. As an exchange student this year, Tamara's book helped me realize that some parts of the journey are the picture on the front of the postcard, but the real adventures get written on the back."
Stone said she's committed to writing young adult fiction and is busy with the sequel to "Time Between Us," slated for release next year.
"I remember loving memorable characters when I was a teen reading fiction," she said. "I hope readers will be connecting with my characters and find them memorable as well."
WHO: Orinda author Tamara Ireland Stone
WHAT: Book signing for "Time Between Us"
WHEN: 7 p.m. Dec. 10
WHERE: Towne Center Books, Pleasanton