Sunday, September 6, 2020

Lost Time - An Interview

I'm pleased to welcome Winona Kent to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Winona writes the Jason Davey Mystery series. Lost Time is the second book in the series and was released August 31, 2020.

Kathy: In Lost Time band members reunite for a reunion tour, replacing one of the members who has since died with his son, also a musician. If you could reunite any band, replacing members if necessary, who would you choose?

WK: I would have loved to have seen a Beatles reunion with all four of the Beatles - John, Paul, George and Ringo. I grew up with their music but sadly, we've since lost two of them. I waited decades and I was finally able to see Paul McCartney live in concert when he came to Vancouver a few years ago and it was the most amazing experience. I was on my feet for most of the show and singing along with the whole audience. And that was just Paul with his supporting band! I saw Ringo in concert with his band many many years ago and that was fantastic too. I can only imagine what a performance with everyone together again would have been like - using high-tech sound and lighting that wasn't available to them back in the 1960s, and showcasing all four Beatles' solo work as well as their work as a group. What an astounding experience that would have been. 


Kathy: In 1974 Pippa Gladstone was a huge fan of the band Figgis Green. Have you ever been similarly devoted to a band? Is there a band or musician who would make you come close to being a groupie? 

WK: I've never been so totally devoted to a band or musician that I would come close to being a groupie - but I have been extremely passionate about a few bands. I discovered the Beatles when everyone else did - roundabout 1963 or 1964 when they completely conquered the world. My dad bought me a little transistor radio and I used to fall asleep listening to it. I still love their music.

And then, of course, when I was 12, the Monkees had that tv show and I immediately formed a fan club for them. I ran that for a couple of years in the small city where I grew up (Regina, Saskatchewan). We had quite a lot of members!

One of the great things about our local radio stations when I was growing up was that they'd play a lot of oldies and also a lot of other music from England (not just the "British Invasion" groups) - and that included tunes by Cliff Richard and his backing band, the Shadows, who were topping the charts for years before the Beatles got there. The Shadows were very successful as a band on their own and I loved their music. I forgot about them as the years and decades went by, but then, roundabout 2007 I rediscovered them! They'd reunited and gone on tour around England and Europe a couple of years earlier and I was totally blown away by how good they sounded - and looked! I was so impressed I actually wrote their music into one of my novels (Persistence of Memory). The Shads' tune "FBI" was employed by time travellers in 1825 in a very creative way.

Kathy: UK band Figgis Green's music was blend of traditional Celtic ballads mixed with catchy, folky pop. Are they based on a real band? 

WK: Figgis Green is based on three real bands!

I loved the Seekers when I was growing up. They were a group from Australia who had a number of top 10 hits in the 1960s before they broke up. Their lead singer was Judith Durham, and she was backed by two guitarists and a bass player. They sang very catchy folky-sounding songs and thanks to Judith's amazing voice, they had a very distinctive sound which proved to be very popular and allowed them to dominate the pop charts along with the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion..

Many many years ago a friend in England introduced me to a band she loved that I'd actually never heard of. Their name was Steeleye Span, and their music probably comes the closest to the kind of music Figgis Green plays. They specialize in early and traditional English folk music, with lots of jigs and reels, and they have an amazingly unusual sound. They've gone through lots of personnel changes over the years, but, just like Figgis Green and the Seekers, they have a wonderful female lead singer (Maddy Prior) and everyone plays an assortment of instruments.

And finally, of course, I incorporated a few elements from the Shadows into Figgis Green. Jason's Lake Placid Blue Fender Strat was inspired by the Fiesta Red Strats that the Shads are famous for. I sneaked a few twangy Shads-inspired tunes into Figgis Green's set lists. And Jason himself actually plays jazz guitar at a club in London's Soho when he's not touring with his mother's band. His jazz background was inspired by the Shads' lead guitarist, Hank Marvin, who has a huge interest in Gypsy Jazz and performs it often in his adopted home in Australia.


Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

WK: I've always loved reading them and watching them (on tv and in movies) and actually writing them. I just didn't realize it! My first two novels were actually tongue-in-cheek spy stories. My third novel (Cold Play) was set on a cruise ship in Alaska and is where I first introduced my character Jason Davey to the world. And what's he doing on this cruise ship? He's an entertainer - and he's solving a mystery! My next three novels were romantic time-travel stories...but each of them involves the same two characters...solving mysteries! A few years ago it was suggested to me that I try writing a book that could actually fit squarely into the Mystery I borrowed Jason from Cold Play and sent him on a journey to northern Canada to try and find a missing musician. The result was a novella, Disturbing the Peace. I discovered I loved the process of thinking out and plotting a true mystery. I love the challenge, I love playing with clues, and I love taking my readers on Jason's journey as he asks questions and looks for answers. 


Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?  

WK: Yes! As mentioned above - my first two novels were spy stories. I was a huge fan of the old Man from UNCLE tv series from the 1960s, and that was what inspired Skywatcher and The Cilla Rose Affair.

Cold Play was sort-of a standalone book which I always considered to be an adventure, but you can see the mystery/crime elements at work in the plot.

My last three novels before I switched to mysteries, Persistence of Memory, In Loving Memory and Marianne's Memory, were all romantic time-travel stories involving the same two characters - Charlie, from the present, and Mr. Deeley, her companion from 1825. Their adventures took them to 1825 England, to London at the height of the Blitz in World War 2, and then finally to Swinging London in 1965.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

WK: Jason Davey grew up in the spotlight as the son of the two founding members of top British band Figgis Green. Now, he's a successful professional musician himself -- but, after locating a former Figgis Green band member who went missing in northern Canada, he's also making a name for himself as an amateur sleuth.

In Cold Play, which is the unofficial start of the series, Jason Davey has literally run away to sea after the death of his makeup artist wife, finding work as a contract entertainer aboard a much-adored but soon-to-be-retired cruise ship, the Star Sapphire.
But when three people from his past come board as passengers, Jason's routine week-long trip to Alaska becomes anything but.

In Disturbing the Peace, the novella which introduces Jason as a true sleuth, Jason is asked to track down a missing musician. His search ultimately takes him to Peace River, Alberta - 300 miles from Edmonton in the Canadian north. And what he discovers there is both intriguing - and disturbing.

In Notes on a Missing G-String, Jason looks into the theft of £10,000 from a dancer’s locker at a Soho gentlemen’s club. His investigation takes him from Cha-Cha’s and Satin & Silk (two Soho lapdancing clubs) to Moonlight Desires (an agency featuring high class escorts) and finally to a charity firewalking event, where he comes face to face with an underworld crimelord and discovers not everything he's been told about the theft is the complete truth.

And in Lost Time, while Jason rehearses for a tour with folk-pop band Figgis Green, he’s asked to investigate the disappearance of 16-year-old Pippa Gladstone, who vanished on holiday with her parents in 1974. Pippa was declared legally dead but 40 years later, a new photo shows her very much alive. Nothing prepares Jason for the truth about Pippa, which he discovers just as his band is about to go onstage on opening night—with or without him.


Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?  

WK: I think my favourite really is Jason. I can see elements of him in Shaun Deeley, who was in all three of my time-travel novels. But ever since I introduced him in Cold Play, I've loved his sense of humour, his "take" on the world and the fact that I'm writing him using the first person narrative. I didn't do that with any of my other books. It's actually a lot of fun giving him a mystery to solve and then telling the story solely through his eyes. 


Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series? 

WK: I tend to be inspired more by what I see on tv than what I read, oddly enough. I seem to be quite a fan of British police procedurals - the old Morse series, Lewis, Endeavour, Vera and a wonderful series about retired coppers brought back to solve cold cases - New Tricks. That said, I will also admit to being a huge fan of the old Columbo series. We all know his cases would probably be thrown out of court if they ever went to trial, but the joy of Columbo is watching him solve the murder - not finding out who the murderer is, because we're shown at at the start of every show. I'm also very intrigued by the Cormoran Strike series from the UK - JK Rowling's venture into the private eye business (writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith). 


Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work? 

WK: I've always been a storyteller - even before I knew how to write I was creating stories in my head and illustrating them on my bedroom wall with crayons (much to my mother's consternation!) I was always an avid reader as well, and it gradually dawned on me, when I was about seven, that I could write my own stories - which was what I did. When I was in Grade 8 I wrote my first novel, and handed out chapters of it at recess to my fellow students. I kept on writing novels and by the time I got out of high school I was approaching publishers to see if they'd be interested in my work. That was back in the 1970s, when the publishing world was very different to what it is today. I never gave up and I kept trying, and by the time I graduated from university I was writing freelance stories for local newspapers and magazines. A few years later my first novel was a finalist in a fairly big first novel competition in Canada. It didn't win, but I got a big contract with a major publisher and, from there, I've never looked back. Authors now have so many options available to them that were never even thought of back when I started writing. I'm self-publishing now because it's actually much harder now to land a deal with a traditional publishing house than it has ever been in the past.  


Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

WK: That's easy. John Le Carre (who is very well-known!), John Galsworthy (long dead - he wrote The Forsyte Saga) and Monica Dickens, the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, who was a fabulous novelist and one of my most favourite writers. And my fourth choice would be Colin Dexter, the author of the Inspector Morse novels.

Kathy: What are you currently reading? 

 WK: Cobra Clutch by my friend and colleague AJ Devlin, and after that his next book, Rolling Thunder.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us? 

WK: I'm absolutely fascinated by family tree research. The same friend who introduced me to the music of Steeleye Span also got me interested in researching my family's history in England. I've since teamed up with a lovely woman who's married to one of my cousins and we've attempted to track down the origins of my mysterious great-grandfather - all to no avail. But I won't give up! And that research is what inspired my first time-travel novel, Persistence of Memory. My main character, Charlie, is trying to sort out the origins of her obscure ancestors when she's transported back to 1825 and actually ends up meeting them. So far, I've discovered that I'm distantly related to a whole lot of cousins who are descended from Daniel Boone, and that I'm a sixth cousin to one of the Popes!

My interest in family history has also figured quite prominently in Lost Time. Because Jason is in the middle of rehearsing for a tour, he can't take a lot of time off, so he does virtual footwork by digging into a family tree research site and finds answers to crucial questions that way.

My other hobby is knitting. I love knitting berets. When I was plotting out Lost Time, I think I must have knitted six or seven of them. When I'm knitting I can think out complex storylines and intricate plots. It's amazing! 


Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry. 

WK: Riesen chocolate caramels (my guilty pleasure)
V8 low-sodium vegetable juice (I live on it)
Pickled eggs (yum!)
Stash Double-Spice Chai teabags (my beverage of choice when plotting)

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series? 

WK: Yes! I'm in the preliminary planning stages of the next Jason Davey mystery. In Lost Time, Jason's rehearsing to go on tour with his mum's band, Figgis Green. In the next book - tentatively called Ticket to Ride - we're going on tour around the south of England with Jason and the band - and, of course, there will be an intriguing mystery he has to solve along the way.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author? 

WK: Up until September 2019 I was working full-time in a completely unrelated job. I've been working in jobs unrelated to writing for all of my adult life, and writing novels in my spare time - evenings, weekends and holidays. Then, last October, I retired - and I finally became a full-time writer! I'm finally living my dream. It's come a little bit later in life than for others, but my favourite thing about being an author is that I can now indulge in my greatest passion - the thing that keeps me sane, contented and challenged. I love every moment of it. And I love creating something wonderful for people to read and enjoy.


In 1974, top UK band Figgis Green was riding high in the charts with their blend of traditional Celtic ballads mixed with catchy, folky pop. One of their biggest fans was sixteen-year old Pippa Gladstone, who mysteriously vanished while she was on holiday with her parents in Spain in March that same year.

Now it's 2018, and founding member Mandy Green has reunited the Figs for their last-ever Lost Time Tour. Her partner, Tony Figgis, passed away in 1995, so his place has been taken by their son, professional jazz guitarist (and amateur sleuth) Jason Davey.

As the band meets in a small village on the south coast of England for pre-tour rehearsals, Jason's approached by Duncan Stopher, a diehard Figs fan, who brings him a photo of the band performing at the Wiltshire Folk Festival. Standing in the foreground is Pippa Gladstone. The only problem is the Wiltshire Folk Festival was held in August 1974, five months after Pippa disappeared. Duncan offers Jason a substantial sum of money to try and find out what really happened to the young woman, whose mother had her declared officially dead in 1981.

When Duncan is murdered, it becomes increasingly clear to Jason that his investigation into Pippa's disappearance is not welcome, especially after he follows a series of clues which lead him straight back to the girl's immediate family.

But nothing can prepare Jason for the truth about Pippa, which he discovers just as Figgis Green is about to take to the stage on opening night—with or without him.

Lost Time is the second novel in a new mystery series featuring jazz musican-turned-sleuth Jason Davey.


For more information please check out Winona Kent's website:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for featuring me on your blog, Kathy! So much appreciated!