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Friday, May 28, 2021

Blogtour: Interview with Ivan Wainewright, the author of The Other Times of Caroline Tangent

ABOUT IVAN: Ivan lives in Kent (England) with his partner, Sarah and their neurotic rescue Staffie. Before moving to Kent, Ivan lived in North London, Leeds and Singapore. When not writing, he can be found watching (and occasionally) playing football, running, attending gigs (when that’s possible), arguing over politics and trying to cook. He has been an independent IT consultant for many years, working solely with charities and non-profit organisations.

Find Ivan onlineWebsite, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

Book Information: The Other Times of Caroline Tangent by Ivan D Wainewright; Published: May17, 2021; Genre: Time Travel; Pages: 366, CW: Miscarriage, Abortion, Death/Dying, Racism, Sexism, Violence, Disease


Thank you for joining us, Ivan, and welcome to Fantasy Book Critic! Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

Thanks for inviting me! I am Ivan Wainewright. I live just outside London in the UK, with my partner, Sarah and our slightly neurotic rescue dog, Remi. Before moving here, I lived in North London, Leeds, and Singapore.

When not writing, I can be found watching (and occasionally) playing football (soccer!), running, listening to music from Chumbawamba to Led Zeppelin, arguing over politics and trying to cook.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

I have been an independent IT consultant for many years, working solely with nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. I’m fortunate that much of my work is project-based which gives me time for writing.

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influencers?

I love all Matt Haig’s books – his most recent, The Midnight Library was so thought-provoking – and David Mitchell, who has written many excellent speculative fiction novels. But the book I read recently which stayed with me for weeks afterwards was The Truants, by Kate Weinberg. No SFF at all! But I loved her writing. Interestingly, one of my greatest influences in terms of writing style is David Nicholls (One Day, Us) but again, he writes contemporary fiction rather than sci-fi. But he writes relationships so well.

Serious writing takes not only a story to tell, but the craft of writing to tell it well—can you comment on your journey as a writer?

I wrote short-stories in my twenties, which was – ahem – some years ago now. When I gave those to friends, their comments opened my eyes to how much more I had to learn. Fast forward twenty years and I decided to try again, but writing novels. I can’t tell you how many Chapter Ones I’ve written! My advice to anyone in the same boat is choose one and finish it! Even if it needs loads of work afterwards.

But it was only after I had my first novel accepted by a publisher, when an editor got hold of it, that I realized there was so much more for me to learn about the craft of writing. I’ve hopefully taken a lot of that on board for Caroline Tangent, my second novel, but I’m constantly noticing things I should be improving.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

Hopefully, a story where the reader wants to find out what happens next. Simple as that. And although I write speculative fiction, that is often set in ‘real world’ with a slight ‘shift’ which means all is not normal.

How would you describe the plot of The Other Times of Caroline Tangent if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

Caroline’s husband invents a time machine so they can go back in time to see iconic gigs, but as they do so, they come to realize his invention could change a devastating moment from their own past. Until, on one trip, one of them does something unthinkable which will change both their lives forever.

What was your initial inspiration for The Other Times of Caroline Tangent? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

I love live music. A long time ago (i.e. pre-Covid...) I was surfing the web and I came across a forum discussing people’s favourite ever gigs, and gigs they wished they’d been to. And it just popped into my head: what if someone invented a time machine so you could go to see any concert in history? Then I almost immediately thought of the ‘major twist’ in the book. I started writing it early 2020 and finished my first draft in about six months. The core of the plot has remained the same, but one of the biggest changes happened when I sent it to a Developmental Editor and she suggested one set of specific tweaks which changed the structure of the first half so that it had a different focus on some of the events, so that it was more like, well, Gone Girl! I don’t know if I achieved that, I hope so, but I do think it really improved the story arc.

You've written the story in 1st person present tense. Why? What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing in the present tense and why does it fit this story? And how quickly have you nailed your narrator's voice?

I always write in the first person; I find it easier and my narrative flows better. I’ve only recently written in the present tense – I find it adds immediacy, urgency, and I hope it really immerses the reader inside the narrator’s mind. What is she (the narrator) thinking now, as something happens? Not, what is she saying now about something which happened in the past? The downside is that, as a writer, it is all too easy to mix up your tenses and make your writing muddled; and some readers may not like the approach, whereas past tense is very much the norm. I think it fits this novel well because of Caroline’s narration, the development of the story and the aspect of time travel; the story always happens in the now (except for a few ‘flashbacks’), regardless of the era in which something is happening.

In terms of Caroline’s voice, I didn’t overthink that when I wrote the first draft, I just wrote how I felt the narrator wanted to tell it. That sounds a bit pretentious, but sometimes the characters’ voices just drive the book! I did plan (and therefore know) a lot about Caroline before I wrote much of the novel, so I hope that comes out in the writing. Of course, I am male, but I am writing in a woman’s voice, which had some challenges. I was fortunate that I had some early (beta) readers who were women who gave me useful feedback, and both my editors were also women, and they made some excellent suggestions.

If you had to describe the book in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Evocative. Relatable. Unorthodox.

How did you come up with the title?

I couldn’t think of a title for 95% of the time I was writing the book! Then I began delving into famous rock lyrics for inspiration, including Jimi Hendrix’s The Wind Cries Mary. One of the lines in that song is “the broken pieces of yesterday's life”, and that resonated with my novel but wasn’t quite right. After several shifts, such as replacing “pieces” with “times”, “yesterday” with “Caroline Tangent” and so on, I finally reached what I wanted.

How does it tie with the plot of the book?

It’s a time travel book, so there are implications of other times for the protagonist. That could be literal or metaphorical.

How many books have you planned for the series?

I wrote it as a standalone novel. But now I’ve finished, I have got one or two other ideas at the back of my mind for sequels/prequels...

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to The Other Times of Caroline Tangent's protagonists and antagonists?

Caroline is a forty-something year-old, mixed-race artist. She has good friends and a career which is beginning to take off. Her husband, Jon is a university lecturer who loves inventing things. They’ve been married for over twenty years and live in North London in England. Like many relationships, all seems well on the outside, but dig a bit deeper...

There are two other, significant characters in the book but to discuss them would introduce a spoiler or two – sorry!

How did you select the names of your characters?

Jon and Caroline were originally called “Turner”, but once I incorporated her name into the title of the book, I felt they needed something a bit more unusual. There are a couple of characters (including a feline one!) where the names are references to famous rock stars, but I think I’ll let the readers spot those!

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

No, I’m afraid not!

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of The Other Times of Caroline Tangent?

This was quite tough. I have written a book which has time travel at its core, but that’s only part of the story: the vehicle to take the characters on their journey. Then, of course, music is a big part of the book. And finally, the relationship between Caroline and Jon. That meant, unfortunately, that ‘more classic’ time travel/SFF covers just didn’t seem quite right.

So, I engaged the services of Sophie Burdess, who designed the cover of Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August. Partly because I love that book and the cover, but also because I felt that was close to the sort of novel I had written, with similar challenges for a cover artist. Sophie discussed all this with me and then gave me a number of options. I/we selected this one and then worked on refining it.

Have you written it with a particular audience in mind? Who'll enjoy it?

I hope that anyone who likes time travel, music or stories along the lines of Stephen King’s 11/22/63. But it isn’t necessarily “classic” sci-fi; it starts in our real world in 2021 and most of the story is not about the sci-fi per se, but instead it’s about the characters, their interactions, development and changes. But without time travel, you couldn’t have the core of the novel, nor the ‘big twist’, so it stays true to its roots in that way.

What are you most excited for readers to discover in this book?

The changes which the characters go through, what that means to Caroline in particular and the decisions she has to make. I’m interested to hear if readers see the ‘key twist’ coming. Of course, I hope that all the history of the gigs, the bands, the music and the descriptions of past times in London and New York in particular evoke some thoughts for readers about those times and places.

Can you, please, offer us a taste of your book, via one completely out-of-context sentence.

“What about the Hendrix poster that you nicked from the gig in New York – did he see that?”

(Great question, BTW!)

What's your publishing Schedule for 2021/2022?

Nothing else planned for 2021, but if anyone signs up for my newsletter via my website, they can download a free bonus chapter of Caroline and Jon going to an iconic but poignant gig in Boston in April 1968... 2022 will hopefully see a new novel.

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

Thank you to everyone who buys or reads a copy of the book; I can’t tell you how much that means to me. And I love hearing from readers, whether their feedback is the good, the bad or the ugly!

NOTE: Many thanks to Justine, Timy & the Storytellers On Tours for giving us an opportunity to take part in this tour. Here's the tour's full schedule.



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