Five Fast Questions . . . with Helen Simonson
The Edwardian period was such a glamorous time, filled with elegance and the stirrings of social progress - and amazing technological advances including the telephone, the motor car, electric light, the flying machine. It also ended in the crushing horror of World War One. For a writer this sense of a brief idyll doomed to destruction would be an irresistible draw, but I always start with character and it was Agatha Kent and her nephews, walking into my head, that inspired this story
2. Setting plays an important part in this new novel. Do you have a particular connection to this part of England?
I spent my formative teen years living in the Rye area. I was inspired by the history and atmosphere of this ancient town and spent my Saturday job money on books by local writers - Henry James, E. F. Benson, Rudyard Kipling, who all lived and worked nearby. Living in the USA , Sussex remains an emotional home for me.
3. What are you currently reading?
4. Do you have a favorite book of all time? If so, what is it and why?
I have a favorite author, Edith Wharton. She was a friend of Henry James and visited Rye, and I've been reading her books since I was a teenager. She's a master at analyzing social mores and manners and I think The Custom of the Country is the world's most searing indictment of social climbing.
5. Are you working on a writing project now? Can you tell us about it?
I'm making a new pledge not to talk about my next novel. The more I talk about it the less actual writing I seem to do. And the more I describe it, the more I doubt myself. But I'm stubborn in pursuing the characters that come to me and so I am going to shut up and work!