Ask the Author: Gwendolyn Womack
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m originally from Houston, Texas and live in Los Angeles with my husband, son, and our dog, Jolly. I’m a hermit writer, bookworm, and avid researcher. I also paint as a hobby and do kaleidoscope photography. I’ve written three novels, The Memory Painter, The Fortune Teller, and The Time Collector, and am a USA Today bestselling author. All three of my books are very cross-genre—a mix of magical realism, mystery, historical fiction, and romance. The stories travel through time, though each one in a different way, and have been called esoteric thrillers, which I think is a pretty cool description.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
My latest book, The Time Collector, is about a master psychometrist, Roan West, who can touch objects and read the memories stored within them. Roan’s close friend belongs to a group of psychometrists who are researching out-of-place artifacts around the world and they stumble upon something they shouldn’t have. Roan’s friend goes missing and Roan sets out to find out what’s happened. In the midst he must protect a young budding psychometrist, Melicent Tilpin, who has just gotten famous by finding a rare pocket watch with her gift. The story takes off from there.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
My inspiration for The Time Collector came when I was finishing up edits on The Memory Painter. There’s a scene in The Memory Painter where the main character, Bryan, is holding an antique clock that once belonged to him in a different life. He’s filled with so much longing over the memories of this clock—memories that belonged to him in another life and yet they don’t belong to him now. The poignancy of that moment, with his cradling the clock and the emotions he felt, really struck me. And I thought, what if there’s a character who could touch this clock and see everything? It has nothing to do with the clock belonging to him or reincarnation—it’s about the psychic ability to see the past through the object. Suddenly I saw Roan West in an old antique store, taking off his gloves, because he was preparing to touch something and peer into the past. I was so excited with this new character that I knew I had a story to tell.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I am quite attached to the character Sun and her story in Korea with her grandmother’s fan. It was the hardest scene to write, so perhaps my favorite if I had to choose. On a lighter note, I did enjoy writing the “date” scene where Roan is showing Melicent his clock collection spanning the ancient past to the present.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve been a writer all my life, writing poetry, then theater plays and feature screenplays. Writing a novel was something I knew I wanted to do at some point when I felt ready. I remember reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in 2005 and being so electrified by the book and her writing. The strongest urge to write a novel struck me then. At the time I was a struggling screenwriter in LA, working a day job to pay the bills while developing material with producers. But everything was stalled in development and the thought of writing a novel—of being the writer and director on paper—started to call to me. At the same time, I was reading Diana Gabaldon’s novels and she was a huge inspiration as well.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Writing a book is incredibly hard, so be in love with your story because you’re going to be spending a lot of time together. Think about who you are as a writer and what is the essence of the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t query agents until your manuscript is 100% ready. The publishing industry is tough, but it is also an open-door industry. Agents and editors are always searching for the next debut novel and new writer to celebrate. When you’re finally on the road to publication, embrace the revision process and editing—to me both are the most exciting process of writing a novel, and I’m always amazed by the transformation a manuscript goes through from first draft to finished book. Most importantly, always trust your gut and intuition. My favorite writing quote is from Ray Bradbury: “Your subconscious already knows what it wants to write. So get out of your own way.”
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