by M. Nathan Robinson
What happens when a couple on the brink of divorce meet themselves again as newlyweds?
In my debut novel, RIFT, I finally tell the story I’ve had in my head for nearly twenty years. It is the story of Daniel and Katherine Jacobs, a middle-aged couple on the brink of divorce when a rift in space-time puts them face-to-face with themselves as a young couple starting out.
The idea came to me in the middle of the night in the summer of 2007 when my wife and I were staying at a lake house. I woke up to go to the bathroom and from the window noticed a dense fog blanketing the property. When a car past on the nearby road, it’s headlights lit up the the atmosphere and flooded the bathroom with a blinding light. The scene seemed other-worldly and I imagined the car pulling down our driveway, arriving from some time in the distant past. That was the kernel, and once I committed to start writing it nearly a decade later, the characters, scenes, dialogue and themes came flooding out.
Where to Buy RIFT?
Since its launch on Amazon in the spring of 2021, I’m grateful for the glowing reviews from readers who’ve recognized and enjoyed the humor, fresh perspective, and fast-paced, suspenseful plot. Read the REVIEWS
Synopsis of RIFT
Noted Philadelphia psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Jacobs, has long felt trapped in a failed marriage. He’s procrastinated for years knowing a divorce would be a shock to most who consider Katherine the perfect wife–she’s joyful, loving and caters to her husband’s every need. But Daniel believes her demeanor to be a facade, overcompensating for a terrible trauma from which she’s never recovered, and he’s grown exhausted living with the pretense.
For the past six years Katherine has also served dutifully as her mother-in-law’s primary caretaker. Since the passing of Margaret Jacobs less than a month ago, Katherine has been looking forward to the weekend in Vermont she was promised, a well-deserved respite Daniel could hardly deny her.
The couple settle into their remote country retreat with opposing agendas. Daniel is eager to broach the subject of divorce and help his wife come to terms, while Katherine is determined to lure her husband into intimacy and rekindle his passion for her. But after an awkward first evening, no progress is made on either front.
Daniel lies awake, rehearsing his lines for the morning, when the sudden shock of high beams sprays across their bedroom wall. It is the wee hours and a car has weaved down their hidden driveway where it now sits idling. But this isn’t just any old car–this old car has arrived from the distant past, its occupants none other than the Jacobs’ themselves–a twenty-six year old Kate and a twenty-nine year old Dr. Dan.
As if meeting their doppelgngers wouldn’t be enough, Daniel and Katherine are in store for an even bigger surprise. The young couple have brought with them precious cargo. Andrew is their baby boy, their one and only child, and the son whom Daniel and Katherine haven’t seen since he succumbed to his cancer at the age of eleven.
They are all hemmed in by a ubiquitous fog, confined to the small cottage for this most bizarre and stirring of reunions. Daniel and Katherine take turns cradling their rediscovered baby Andrew, but are careful not to divulge his tragic fate to his parents. The couples get acquainted and comfortable, their similarities and differences on full display and Daniel soon finds himself particularly intrigued by young Kate–she is a stark reminder of the woman he once knew and adored.
They soon come to realize that time is not on their side–Kate and Dan begin showing the effects of being in a world where they already exist, and surmise that their long-term health is untenable. The two doctors believe their situation to be confirmation of quantum theory with its mathematical predictions of parallel universes and wormholes. But the women are students of mythology–intuitive and spiritual by nature–and suspect something more than a scientific anomaly.
Young Dan is committed to retracing their route and finding the wormhole. He’s counting on it to return his family to their rightful place in time. Meanwhile, Katherine becomes convinced that fate is at play, that there is a cure on the horizon that will save their son, but only if he is allowed to remain in this future. Is her intuition right, or just the result of wishful thinking? Even if the young parents could be convinced, would they ever consider giving up their son? Would kidnapping, or worse, be an option if the young parents don’t comply? Ultimately, it’s Daniel who must decide whether to follow his head or his heart and side with one over the other to change their destinies forever.
RIFT is an unforgettable story steeped in emotion and suspense. On an intellectual level it explores the conundrum of perspective and how choices are rarely right or wrong, black or white. It’s a story that pits science against faith, youth against maturity, certainty against hope, and reality against delusion. Emotionally, we bear witness to love in all its forms: young love, mature love, love of self, love for a child, selfish love and selfless love, and we wrestle with the contradictions and consternation common to life’s most heart-wrenching and heart-warming moments.
What I’d like people to take away from it is some reflection on themselves when they were younger and wonder how such an encounter might play out in their own lives. The novel also raises questions about love in its many forms and the conflict between science and religion.
About the Author
Hi! I’m Michael Robinson, but I go by M. Nathan Robinson for my fictional writing to distinguish myself from my day-job persona as mild-mannered marketing guy (not true – I can be quite volatile). I have been writing corporate copy for years, so I was as shocked as anyone to find a fictional story growing in my head. In fact, I’ve never been a strong reader and certainly not one for fiction. I blame my self-diagnosed ADD and dyslexia (convenient eh?), and although I know it’s frowned-upon, I do find writing and reading to be less related than most.
I’m from New Jersey, grew up in Montreal and now live in the Philadelphia burbs. I speak broken Quebecois french and break it out once in a while to confuse my friends and annoy my wife and children. I used to play a lot of basketball, but now I play a lot of tennis, and my goal is to marry my love of trash-talking with my affinity for dropshotting sixty-somethings who can’t move anymore.
I am fascinated by psychology and human relationship–especially the dysfunctional kind. I love picking apart and laying bare the passive aggressiveness, anxiety, self-doubt and mistrust that underpin life. I like to write about family, workplace and marital drama–the sort everyone can relate to. There is so much juicy tension in describing what people are thinking and how it differs from what they’re saying–people struggling to portray something they’re not, and perhaps even lying to themselves. Stories about hidden motives, maneuvering and manipulation, not in the service of some intriguing political plot or high-stakes heroic tale, but in simple, common, everyday interaction.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org