Three Questions and a Cover — a short interview with one of my favorite authors, along with one of the author’s covers.
Winona Kent is the author of the Lost Time series. Believe, Winona, when I say that your time spent helping the readers here is not lost on any of us. Thanks so much for fitting this interview into your busy schedule.
Have you ever been surprised by a plot or character that doesn’t go where you expected?
Absolutely. And it’s especially true with Ticket to Ride. You probably won’t believe this, but until I got to the last few chapters of the novel, I really had no idea who one of the main baddies was going to be! The way the story is structured, you never really know which of the characters might be holding a serious and deadly grudge against Jason and his mother–until they reveal themselves at Oakden Manor, the estate where Figgis Green is booked for a private charity gig.
All I knew was that it had to be someone I’d already written about. Someone I’d introduced and described and given tasks and dialogue and a purpose. As I was reading through the chapters, looking for a character devious enough to fill the boots of the baddie, it suddenly became crystal clear. That person leaped off the page, completely surprising me, and at that moment, I knew I’d found my pivotal villain. I can’t tell you who it is because that will spoil a completely unexpected ending. But I hope you enjoy the Big Reveal as much as I did—and that it’ll encourage you to go back into the story and look for the clues that I very deliberately planted after I’d made the discovery myself.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was 12 years old and in Grade Eight. I’d taught myself to type on my mum’s portable Smith Corona and I’d come up with a fabulous story about a teenaged guy named Lawrence Jenkins-Hennessy, who was born in England but grew up in Canada and suddenly found himself kidnapped and cast into the hold of a freighter sailing from Montreal to Southampton. The actual plot of this exciting adventure is, alas, lost to the mists of time. I can’t remember anything except the kidnapping and the voyage, where poor Lawrence was terribly seasick (he had that in common with me). I typed up the first six chapters and distributed them at Recess to my classmates. I had people standing in line waiting for the person just ahead of them to hurry up and finish so they could have their turn at reading.
I don’t even remember if this wonderful novel had a title. I do remember that I never got past the first six chapters—probably because I didn’t know anything about plotting and structure, and the basic concept that you really do need to have a plan in place for what happens when your character gets out of Act One and starts to try and set his world to rights again in Act Two.
I also remember that the following year, when I was 13, my family and I spent the summer in England (where I was born), and I embarked on a new novel that still starred Lawrence Jenkins-Hennessey, but this time he was part of a roving group of flower children who got involved with spies in Swinging London. I was heavily influenced by The Man from UNCLE and Carnaby Street (it was, after all, 1968).
I didn’t finish that book, either.
I had to wait until I was 16, and in Grade 12 (in 1971) before I actually finished my first novel. It was called Underground and I wrote it to fulfil the requirements of a final paper in my English class. It was about three teens (two boys and a girl) who decide to trek from Morden, at the southern end of the Northern Line on the London Underground, to Golders Green, where the Tube surfaces 17 miles later. They sneak into the station and wait until the electricity’s switched off, then embark on their journey through the grimy tunnel, walking between the rails. Roundabout Tooting Broadway, one of the guys decides he’s jealous of the relationship between the other guy and the girl, and tries to kill them.
You guessed it…Lawrence Jenkins-Hennessy was back for his third appearance. I changed his name to Jordan—and he wasn’t the baddie.
Underground was never published, but it did greatly inform parts of a novel I wrote many years later, The Cilla Rose Affair, which has a storyline very much embedded in the railways beneath London. Did Lawrence Jenkins-Hennessy make a fourth appearance…? I’m not sure. But I did have a rather appealing character named Christopher Robin Harris, who was the son of a guy who used to play a spy on a tv series not unlike The Man from UNCLE….
What’s your elevator advice (1 line, no more than 30 seconds) for new and/or aspiring authors?
Don’t expect instant success—be a lifelong learner and take something new away from every story and book you write, polish your craft and accept whatever advice you’re given—critical or otherwise—in order to turn yourself into the best writer you can ever aspire to be.
In Lost Time, the third book in Winona’s Jason Davey Mystery series, professional musician / amateur sleuth Jason Davey was rehearsing for Figgis Green’s 50th Anniversary Tour of England. Now they’re on the road in Ms. Kent’s fourth book in the series, Ticket To Ride.
But when a fortune-teller in Sheffield warns them of impending danger, the band is suddenly plagued by a series of seemingly-unrelated mishaps.
After Jason is attacked and nearly killed in Cambridge, and a fire alarm results in a very personal theft from Mandy’s hotel room, it becomes clear they’re being targeted by someone with a serious grudge.
And when Figgis Green plays a gig at a private estate in Tunbridge Wells, that person finally makes their deadly intentions known.
Jason must rely on his instincts, his Instagram “guardian angel,” and a wartime ghost who might possibly share his DNA, in order to survive.
About the Author
Winona Kent is an award-winning author who was born in London, England and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, where she completed her BA in English at the University of Regina. After moving to Vancouver, she graduated from UBC with an MFA in Creative Writing. More recently, she received her diploma in Writing for Screen and TV from Vancouver Film School.
Winona’s writing breakthrough came many years ago when she won First Prize in the Flare Magazine Fiction Contest with her short story about an all-night radio newsman, Tower of Power.
Her spy novel Skywatcher was a finalist in the Seal Books First Novel Competition and was published in 1989. This was followed by a sequel, The Cilla Rose Affair, and her first mystery, Cold Play, set aboard a cruise ship in Alaska.
After three time-travel romances (Persistence of Memory, In Loving Memory and Marianne’s Memory), Winona returned to mysteries with Disturbing the Peace, a novella, in 2017 and the novel Notes on a Missing G-String in 2019, both featuring the character she first introduced in Cold Play, professional jazz musician / amateur sleuth Jason Davey.
The third book in Winona’s Jason Davey Mystery series, Lost Time, was published in 2020.
Ticket to Ride is the fourth book in Winona’s Jason Davey Mysteries.
Winona has been a temporary secretary, a travel agent, a screenwriter and the Managing Editor of a literary magazine. She’s currently the BC/YK/NWT rep for the Crime Writers of Canada and is also an active member of Sisters n Crime – Canada West. She recently retired from her full-time admin job at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, and is now happily embracing life as a full-time author.
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