Author Q&A with @winonakent | The Jason Davey Mysteries Book Tour and $10 Amazon GC / eBook #Giveaway | #Mystery #Amateur #Detective 12
The Jason Davey Mysteries by Winona Kent is on virtual book tour.
The mystery, amateur detective stops at Readeropolis with an author interview.
Be sure to enter for a chance to win the giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card or an ebook set of the series (1 winner each) and follow the Silver Dagger book tour (for other dates see the link at the bottom of the post).
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book? My main character is Jason Davey, who has quite a back story. I first wrote about him in 2012, when he was the hero of my adventure novel Cold Play. The story's set on a cruise ship in Alaska and was based on my experiences travelling with my sister, who was a captain's secretary aboard assorted Princess Cruises ships. I wanted to tell a story from a crew perspective, so I invented Jason, who was an entertainer aboard the Star Sapphire. After Cold Play I wrote three romantic time-travel novels with completely different characters. And then it was suggested to me that I try my hand at mysteries – and that I resurrect Jason from Cold Play and make him into an amateur sleuth who is now employed as a jazz guitarist at a London night club. The result was a novella, Disturbing the Peace (which takes Jason to Peace River, Alberta, in northern Canada), and then a full novel, Notes on a Missing G-String (where Jason has to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a large sum of money from a stripper's locker).
There are two inspirations behind Jason's current adventure, Lost Time. The first was my curiosity and fascination with bands from the 1960s and 1970s who have either reformed after a long absence, or who have never stopped touring and are still packing in audiences who want to see them play. My mum is very elderly, so I have an appreciation and understanding of aging characters who still want to get out there and perform.
The second inspiration was my interest in people who have gone missing and have never been found. I first explored that theme in Disturbing the Peace. I wondered what if an amateur PI was asked to try and track one of these cases down.
In Lost Time, I wanted to know who would have a vested interest in locating a young woman who disappeared in 1974 and who was later declared dead? And who might not want Jason to succeed in finding her? And, more importantly, why?
Where did you come up with the names in the story? I'm always a bit paranoid about naming characters and then discovering there are real people out there who also share those names. I know it's impossible to avoid, so I always do a Google search to make sure I'm not giving my characters names that coincide with people who may be well-known or have very visible online profiles. Sometimes if I really like the name and I discover someone online who has the same name, I'll change the spelling slightly so it looks different.
I love unusual last names, but I usually end up naming characters after people in my family, or who I've worked with, or who I went to school with. My latest novel, Lost Time, is filled with surnames of people I'm related to. And one person who I worked with a long time ago when I was a travel agent – Scattergood! One of Jason Davey's previous adventures, Disturbing the Peace, involved a character named Ben Quigley – who I named after my best friend at school when I was seven years old. And a long time ago, in The Cilla Rose Affair, I called one of the baddies Victor Barnfather. I loved that surname – and I didn't make it up. When I was 19 I spent a summer working in England as a temporary secretary, and I had an assignment at an American oil company in London. One of the auditors there was named Barnfather.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Since my main character, Jason, is a musician who's rehearsing for an upcoming tour with his mother's band (which is reuniting decades after they split up) I loved the whole idea of becoming part of that process. Sometimes musicians create “tour diaries” while they're on the road and post those on blogs and YouTube and other social networking platforms. They don't often include the rehearsal part of the tour or, if they do, it's often just a few lines or a few glimpses. I really wanted to spend two weeks with Jason and the band and explore the music as it all came together, the comradery, and the arguments and disagreements! I also really really enjoyed inventing songs for the band. I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching different arrangements of tunes I was familiar with, then “retooling” those tunes into similarly-themed songs for Jason's band. In a few cases I also had the band covering existing songs. I have some musical background – I had formal piano and music theory lessons for four years when I was a child. I can read music and I understand the rudiments of composition. So I had a great time coming up with all the songs on the Figgis Green set lists – as well as describing them while the band worked through them during their rehearsals.
The other thing I really enjoyed about this book was its setting. The story all takes place in a fictitious English seaside village called Stoneford and a slightly larger town to its north, also fictitious, called Middlehurst. Both are in Hampshire, near Southampton. I originally created Stoneford and Middlehurst when I was writing my time-travel novels, as Stoneford is where Charlie and Shaun Deeley (the main characters) were based. I really adored the place and felt that I wasn't quite finished with it, so it became the band's home for two weeks in Lost Time. I love playing with the idea of having control over the entire “world” that my characters are inhabiting, rather than setting a novel in a real city or town.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? My very first published novel was called Skywatcher. It was a tongue-in-cheek spy caper inspired by the old Man from UNCLE tv series from the 1960s. Its original title was The Christopher Robin Caper – named after one of the main characters, Christopher Robin Harris. But when my editors at Seal Books were going through the manuscript they felt that the story needed a more “adult” sounding title, otherwise they feared it would be mistaken for a YA. I suggested Skywatcher, which sounded a lot like another book about espionage that was getting a lot of attention around that time – Spycatcher. The editors liked the name but couldn't figure out where it appeared in the book. I said it wasn't in the book at all anywhere, but I could add it as the name of the top secret plot to overthrow the world that the heroes had to deal with. The editors agreed, I named the plot Skywatcher, and my first book had a title.
What is your favorite part of this book and why? I think it's the end – the last couple of chapters – when Jason finally discovers what happened to Pippa Gladstone. I won't give away any spoilers, but I am myself completely OCD about being late for things. So when it becomes very clear to Jason that he's missed the sound check for the band's opening night and he's also in very real danger of missing the actual concert, there's a good deal of stress and anxiety which, oddly enough, I enjoyed playing with. Toss in a thunderstorm with some terrifying lightning strikes (I'm absolutely scared to death of lightning, a trait I share with Jason) and it turns into quite a frantic time. Oh, and Jason's mother says the best line in the entire book. You'll have to read it to find out what it is.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? It would be Jason, of course. We'd meet up in London, and he'd take me on a personal sightseeing tour of the city, which has changed so much since the last time I was there in 2002 that I probably wouldn't recognize it. We'd have lunch in one of the restaurants in the Shard (amazing views), then a river cruise to Greenwich, during which we'd chat about his music and his experiences touring England and Ireland with Figgis Green, as well as his most interesting sleuthing assignments. We'd have dinner in Covent Garden at Rules, London's oldest restaurant, established in 1798 and a place where Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Galsworthy and H G Wells were frequent patrons. After dinner we'd explore some more of London, and we'd end up in Soho, visiting the Blue Devil, the jazz club where Jason has a residency.
I wouldn't confine my visit to just one day, though! I think I'd like to spend about two weeks with Jason. We'd visit historical estates out in the country, take a trip to the south coast to see the town that I based the fictitious village of Stoneford on, have a paddle in the sea, perhaps put our heads together to come up with some more intriguing mysteries for him to solve...and I also wouldn't mind a few guitar lessons! He's an expert, and I'm a mere amateur. I did take guitar lessons when I was in high school, but I really only know how to play basic chords and a very simple version of “Four Strong Winds”.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? I usually create characters who are completely original, but who have things in common with people I know or know of. So I might think of a person I used to work with, or someone I've seen on tv or in films, and I'll use their physical description. There's a female Detective Sergeant in Lost Time who looks just like Sharon Maugham who used to appear in the old Taster's Choice coffee commercials with Anthony Head.
Or I might borrow some personality quirks from people I know. Jason's mum, Mandy Green, and Pippa's mum, Susan Gladstone, are both elderly and both share a few interesting traits with my own mum, who is now 95.
Jason himself went through a long evolution before becoming the character he is now. He started out in 2002 as a purser aboard a cruise ship, and he looked rather a lot like the actor Sean Bean, and his character was a bit like Sean's character in his old Sharpe tv series. Then, as the novel was rewritten, first as a screenplay and then as a story set in Alaska instead of the Caribbean, Jason ceased to be a purser, and became one of the ship's entertainers instead. And he no longer resembled Sean Bean.
I'm not sure who I had in mind when I described his appearance in the final version of Cold Play – the version that was ultimately published in 2012 – but I think I wanted him to have dark hair, and a quirky, uniquely funny way of looking at life. I borrowed his personality from a couple of characters I knew on Twitter from around that time. They had “constructed personalities”, which were the public faces that they presented online – but I also knew they had private lives which were actually quite different. So when I created Jason's storyline in Cold Play, I played with his online personality and how he interacted with his Twitterfriends, but I also showed his offline life aboard the ship – which came entirely from my imagination, though it was all based on my experiences travelling with my sister, who was a captain's secretary with Princess Cruises.
It would be another five years before Jason emerged yet again, this time in my novella Disturbing the Peace (2017). He was essentially the same character he'd been in Cold Play, but he'd calmed down a lot. He wasn't on Twitter anymore, and in fact had hardly any online presence at all. He'd matured, settled down, and was inclined to be far more thoughtful and kind. And that's essentially the Jason you see now, in Notes on a Missing G-String and Lost Time – except now he's decided to embrace Instagram with pictures of all his meals.
Have you written any other books that are not published? I have! I wrote six or seven books before my first novel was published in 1989. I consider them “practice novels” – I used them to hone my craft and to learn how to deal with dialogue and plotting, description and characterizations. They're all incomplete in one way or another and I would never consider them good enough to be published. The last of these novels was actually my thesis at the University of British Columbia, where I got my MFA in Creative Writing. I re-read it last year and parts of it make me cringe – though I showed it to a colleague at work, who read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it could be brought up to publishing standards with some serious editing. Perhaps this is something for the future. It's called The Sloughwater Chronicles and it takes place in 1882 Saskatchewan. The story's about two women who meet on a train on their way to Regina, which was called Pile of Bones in 1882, and how their lives play out over the subsequent year. Mind you, the novel was good enough to grant me my Master's Degree, so it can't have been that bad!
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.
The first time we met Jason Davey, he was entertaining passengers aboard the Alaska cruise ship Star Sapphire, Eight ‘til Late in the TopDeck Lounge.
Then he came ashore, got a gig playing lead guitar at London’s Blue Devil jazz club, and gained a certain amount of notoriety tracking down missing musician Ben Quigley in the Canadian north.
Now Jason’s back again, this time investigating the theft of £10,000 from a dancer’s locker at a Soho gentlemen’s club.
Jason initially considers the case unsolvable. But the victim, Holly Medford, owes a lot of money to London crime boss Arthur Braskey and, fearing for her life, has gone into hiding at a posh London hotel.
Jason’s 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 Braskey and discovers not everything Holly’s been telling him is the complete truth.
As he becomes increasingly drawn into the seamy underside of Soho, Jason tries to save Gracie, his band-mate’s 14-year-old runaway daughter, from Holly’s brother Radu, a ruthless pimp, while at the same time protecting Holly herself from a vengeful Braskey—nearly losing his life, and Gracie’s—in the process.
Notes on a Missing G-String is the first novel in a new mystery series featuring jazz musican-turned-sleuth Jason Davey.
Now Jason's back on shore, and he has a regular gig at a jazz club in London.
Jason's son, Dominic, is studying film at university. When Dom asks his dad to help track down a missing musician for a documentary he's making, Jason leaps at the chance.
Ben Quigley played rhythm guitar in Jason's parents' folk group Figgis Green in the late 1960s. And he dropped off the face of the earth four years ago.
Jason's 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.
Disturbing the Peace is a novella which introduces readers to professional musician and amateur sleuth Jason Davey. Jason will soon feature in a new series of full-length mystery novels, beginning with Notes on a Missing G-String.
Winona Kent is an award-winning author who was born in London, England and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan, 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.
After a career that's included freelancing for magazines and newspapers, long and short fiction, screenplays and tv scripts, Winona has now returned to her first love, novels. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.
Writing is Winona's passion.
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