I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Winona Kent. Today, Winona shares her creative journey and new release, Ticket to Ride.
Q. What was your inspiration for this novel?
A. The idea actually came from Lost Time, the novel I wrote just before Ticket to Ride. Normally, my main character, Jason Davey, can be found at the Blue Devil Club in London’s Soho, where he has a permanent gig with his jazz combo. But in Lost Time, Jason has taken a leave of absence from his Blue Devil residency, and is rehearsing for a tour of England with his mum’s old folky-pop band, Figgis Green, while he solves the mystery of a young woman who went missing in the 1970s.
I had so many notes left over, and so much wonderful research that I hadn’t used, that I thought it would be a great idea to write a book about the actual tour. So in Ticket to Ride, Jason and the Figs are on the road. While they travel around England, Jason tries to get to the bottom of who his maternal grandfather really is—and at the same time deals with a series of seemingly-unrelated mishaps that eventually lead to a deadly encounter at a concert in Tunbridge Wells.
Q.Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
A. I actually originally created the character of Jason Davey about ten years ago in a standalone novel called Cold Play. Jason was working an entertainer on board a cruise ship in Alaska. My husband and I had taken a Holland America cruise that followed the same itinerary as the one in the novel, and we spent a lot of time in the lounge at the top of the ship. There was a guy performing there every night with his guitar—his name was David Alan Oates. My husband got into some great conversations with him. I decided to use David as the basic inspiration for Jason. A couple of years ago, my sister and I went on a short Princess Cruises repositioning cruise from Seattle to Vancouver. While we were sitting in the atrium on the ship, we were entertained by a very good guitar player. I did a double-take – it was David! I ran up to him and introduced myself and told him about how he’d been the inspiration for Jason—and, amazingly, he remembered my husband—without me even mentioning him.
I can also tell you that Figgis Green, Jason’s mother’s band in both Lost Time and Ticket to Ride, was inspired by a couple of real-life bands, the Seekers (from Australia), and Steeleye Span (from England).
Q. What’s the best part of being an author? The worst?
A. Honestly, being a writer has given me the opportunity to play at being someone who has far more courage and confidence than I do. I do have some things in common with Jason, but I could never do what he does to investigate the mysteries he’s presented with. I’m actually quite a timid person, and while I’m ok pursuing stuff by email or text, if I have to ask questions in person or on the phone, I tend to run away and hide. In fact, I almost have a phobia about talking on the phone. I’m not sure how it happened, but I suspect it has to do with my years working as a travel agent. Jason has no qualms about using whatever means he has at hand to contact people to get to the bottom of things—phone, public postings on social media, private messages, texting, and of course, straight face to face conversations. And I love exploring all those platforms. In Ticket to Ride, I brought back a character who I’d first created in Cold Play—Jilly, who is Jason’s self-appointed “guardian angel”. In Cold Play, she communicated with him via private messages on Twitter. In Ticket to Ride, she reappears on Instagram—much to Jason’s complete surprise.
The worst thing about being an author…to be honest, I don’t feel anything negative. I guess it’s because for most of my career, I’ve had to write in my spare time, in order to accommodate my full-time job. I retired in 2019 and finally became a full-time author, and I’m enjoying it so much, I wish I’d been able to do it earlier. But my financial situation would never allow it. If there’s anything negative about being an author, it’s probably the effect it has on my family. I tend to spend long hours immersed in research and correspondence and actual writing, and while it suits me perfectly, my husband and my sister sometimes find it annoying and frustrating that I’m so distracted.
Q. Describe your writing space.
A. It’s a little IKEA desk, just large enough for a laptop and a coffee cup. It sits next to my balcony window, which opens onto a wonderful little potted garden, complete with lavender, solar tiki lights, a hummingbird feeder (and hummingbirds), miniature gnomes, fairy lights, and little lighthouses which have lights which, at night, rotate just like real lighthouses. The balcony is seven storeys up in the air, and has an unimpeded vista view of the Fraser River, which is busy with marine traffic 24 hours a day. I should also add that I have a little glazed clay pot out there which contains some of my mother’s ashes. She died last May—and very soon afterwards, I started to be visited by those hummingbirds. It’s the most perfect writing space—and so inspiring.
Q. Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?
A. I have a few interesting hobbies. One of them is family tree research. I have a very mysterious great-grandfather whose birth record I can’t find and whose parentage is quite murky. I’ve done the DNA test and plunged into genealogy head-first. My Ticket to Ride hero, Jason Davey, shares that interest with me—and it actually figures quite importantly in the storyline. My other passionate interest is the London Underground–and more specifically, abandoned Underground stations. A few of my novels and short stories have included current and abandoned stations in their plots. And, finally, I knit. I’m almost ashamed to admit it. When I’m trying to work up my next storyline, or I’m stuck on a particularly tricky plot development, I resort to knitting tams and berets. I have quite a collection now, as you can imagine!
Q. What are you working on next?
A. I’m just starting to research and outline my next Jason Davey mystery, Bad Boy. It has a rather startling opening, involving The Shard in London. In fact, I’ve just got back from England. The original purpose of the trip was to scatter my mum’s ashes in her birthplace (she died in May 2021) but while I was there, I took the opportunity to conduct a lot of first-hand research—which included going up The Shard and taking part in a 4 ½ hour walking tour of Soho’s Musical Venues—Soho being where Jason works, in the Blue Devil jazz club. I also plan on taking Jason to Derbyshire, which is where some of my cousins live, in a lovely little village called Winster. I got some amazing ideas for the book on this trip, which will feature the return of one of my favourite all-time baddies, Arthur Braskey (from Notes on a Missing G-String).
In Lost Time, professional musician / amateur sleuth Jason Davey was rehearsing for Figgis Green’s 50th Anniversary Tour of England. Now they’re on the road.
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.
Ticket to Ride is the fourth book in Winona Kent’s mystery series featuring jazz musician-turned-amateur sleuth Jason Davey.
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