Interview with Winona Kent, author of Persistence of Memory

Publisher: Fable Press

Publication Date: September 17, 2013

Order Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: Charlie Lowe has two obsessions: saving the Stoneford Village Green from unscrupulous developers and researching her ancestor, Louis Augustus Duran, whose mysterious origins elude her. When a freak lightning strike and a rogue computer virus send her back to 1825, Charlie discovers she must persuade a reluctant Sarah Foster to marry Duran, or two centuries of descendants -including herself- will cease to exist. Unfortunately, Louis Duran turns out to be a despicable French count who spends his days attempting to invent the first flushing toilet in Hampshire. That is, of course, when he's not busy impregnating a succession of unfortunate housemaids. Combining the language, humour and manners of Jane Austen's era with charming characters and colorful storytelling, Persistence of Memory is a mystery, a love story and a speculative novel about accidental time travel. A hopeless romantic, our heroine does her best to encourage the happiness of those who surround her -- but will she be able to mend a matrimonial wrong, restore the Village Green to its rightful owner and, most particularly, conclude the tale in the company of the gentleman with whom she was always meant to be? You may acquaint yourself with the answers, gentle reader, here, within "Persistence of Memory."

Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.

I actually got the idea for Persistence of Memory while I was researching my family tree. I was never much interested in where I'd come from, until one day something just sort of hit me - flash, like a lightning bolt - and I started digging into my mum's family in England. I get these "struck by lightning" moments every few years, and when they happen, they usually lead to something great. I had a lot of success tracing my family tree, and found out about everyone except one of my great-grandfathers. I literally hit a brick wall with him. No birth certificate, no information about his parents, very little information about his life in general until a census record in 1911. And he died young, aged 42. No one in the family could provide any of the missing details either. So I sort-of took that frustration and intrigue and gave it to the main character, Charlie, in Persistence of Memory. And I sent her back in time to actually meet her great grandparents, six generations in the past.

Q. How did writing this book affect you?

I ended up learning a lot about early 19th century social history in England! I was never good at history in school, but I think it was because I could never “connect” any of it to myself. I’d never experienced it, so I found it difficult to relate to things which happened before I was born. But as soon as I sent Charlie, the novel’s heroine, back in time, I could imagine her initial disconnection from the era she’d landed in. And then because she had to experience everything in that era, I had to learn about it myself. So it was a great way to become an expert on 1825 England. And the research methods I developed will come in handy for the next novel, which is again set in a time before I was born - 1940 London, during the Blitz. So you could say that I’ve become much more historically aware as a result of “Persistence of Memory”. Writing this novel also gave me a fabulous idea for a series of novels about the same two characters - Charlie Lowe and Mr. Deeley, who becomes her love interest. “Persistence” didn’t start out as the first novel in a series - I wrote it as a standalone story - but I ended up seeing the potential in more stories about accidental time travel with these two characters, who are great together.

Q. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part is finding the time to write. A long time ago I decided that the only way I'd be able to work full-time and write would be to incorporate naps into my day. So I have a short nap, 20 minutes or so, at noon, and then I have a long nap, about 2-3 hours, after work. And then I write into the night. I'm lucky that my best creative time is late at night. I try to write every day, including weekends. I don't have a daily word count, though I do have a detailed outline. Sometimes I can only write one paragraph. Sometimes I can write 10 pages. If I feel I really need to concentrate and apply my creative mind without interruptions or distractions, I'll take some holiday leave from work and become a full-time writer for a few days. A long time ago, before the arrival of the internet, I found it really difficult to do research. Researching a novel in those days would involve long hours in a library, scrolling through microfilm to read newspaper and magazine stories, hunting down books and needing a budget for photocopying and microfilm printing. The internet has made everything about research so easy now. What used to take months can literally now be done in an hour or two. So really the only difficult part of writing for me these days is finding the actual time to write.

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?

Yes - as mentioned above, “Persistence of Memory” is the first in a series of accidental time travel stories with the same two characters, Charlie Lowe and Mr. Deeley. The next one will be set in 1940 London, during the Blitz, and I’m thinking about perhaps making the one after that about London in the “Swinging Sixties” - roundabout 1964 when Beatlemania was at its height and the Brits were taking over the world in fashion, music, film… just about everything. It was a very exciting time to be alive - and I have the added bonus of actually experiencing it all first hand myself. After that, who knows? I definitely want to try and write one new novel in the series a year.

Q. What are you currently reading?

The current book beside my computer is called “Sex in Georgian England”. It’s about social attitudes towards sex, women, etc., in the early to mid-1800s. It’s research for the character of Mr. Deeley for the next novel. He’s a guy who was born into that era, and without giving away too many spoilers, he’s going to be a constant character in all of the future books, so I want to get his attitudes right!

Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).

I just had my 59th birthday, so that’s a bit of interesting news, as I’m a lot older than most authors who are just starting out with a new book. I’ve had three novels published previously, but I consider “Persistence” to be a kind of new beginning for me, so I think of myself as a debut author, in spite of the fact that technically it isn’t true. I’m also really pleased to be accepted into the Fable Press family. My previous novel, “Cold Play”, was self-published so I know the amount of work that goes into editing, publishing and marketing a book. I’m really grateful to Matt at Fable for taking a chance with me, and giving me the opportunity to prove that I could write a really excellent story.

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I think people will find the story quite entertaining, especially if they're fans of Jane Austen. The novel actually takes place a few years after Austen's death, but a lot of Regency customs and manners are still in place, and England hasn't yet launched into the massive social changes brought by the Industrial Revolution. It's about a much simpler time in our history, when women were considered delicate and frail, and their only ambition in life was to marry well. Both Sarah (Charlie’s great-grandmother x 6) and Charlie make it a point to rebel against those ideas - with interesting results!

I’d also like to thank my readers for buying the book. I hope they enjoy my sense of humour and the quirkiness of some of the characters I've created, and the fun I had researching and writing the story. I hope that comes out in the story itself. I'd like my readers to be intrigued by a few of my plot devices, and surprised by what happens. And I really hope they like Charlie and Mr. Deeley, because they're two of my favourite all-time characters.

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