Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Gwendolyn Womack, author of The Memory Painter. Ever since I read and enjoyed the novel, I have been wanting to interview her for a long time. Now, a year later, I am pleased that I finally had the chance to interview her. I hope this interview gives you some insight into her writing and her novel. Thank you, Mrs. Womack!
This is your first novel. How long did it take you to write it?
The Memory Painter took me about two years to write and one year to polish.
Did you ever encounter writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I really don't encounter writer's block. I just push through the inertia of not knowing what's next by trying to dig a little deeper.
What inspire you to write The Memory Painter?
The original spark of the idea was what if neuroscientists created a wonder drug that enabled us to remember our past lives. With those memories we would be able to speak all the languages of those lifetimes and have lost abilities. Then the image of Bryan painting in the dark, in the middle of night, while speaking ancient Greek came to me and the story grew from there.
There are some interesting theories about reincarnation that you've used in your book. Did you read any interesting books about the subject or is it all from your imagination?
I purposefully did not read any books on reincarnation while writing the novel. I didn't want to be influenced by those ideas. The story comes from a neuroscientific stance of memory retrieval. And that really came from my imagination. After the book came out I did read Dr. Brian Weiss' Many Lives, Many Masters because so many of my readers were asking if I had read it. I found the book completely fascinating and highly recommend it.
Your characters travel through many continents and time periods. Which one was your favorite? Also, which one did you find the most challenging?
I really love the Viking lifetime with Bjarni Herjolfsson and also Bodhidharma was a favorite to write. The most challenging was perhaps ancient Egypt because it was not based on any historical figures and I was creating an entire world without the references I had for the other lifetimes.
I heard you are you are writing a sequel. Which book do you find most challenging, the first book or the anticipated sequel? Did you initially plan for a sequel or did the idea come while writing the first novel?
I do have a sequel in mind but nothing has been planned for it yet. My next novel coming out next year, which I'll announce soon, is a standalone. That novel is also another thriller and love story that travels a lot of history.
For The Memory Painter I originally wrote it as a standalone, but then the story's continuation began to form in my mind over time. And so I went back and planted some seeds to connect the two. If and when I do a sequel for The Memory Painter, I'm imagining it more as a companion book that pairs with The Memory Painter, but will tie up any and all questions the first book posed. I hear a sequel is easier because the characters are already created, but in my mind it will be harder to write.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Follow the 3 P's: Persistence, Passion & Perseverance. Write from the heart and don't hold back. Go for drama. Deepen the characters. A lot of the magic is found while editing. So revise, revise, revise. Take time away from the computer to fill your imagination and recharge and then come back and revise some more. Be open to the ideas and feedback of others. Sometimes what is in your mind is not yet on the page. Be your hardest critic. And my favorite writing quote is from Ray Bradbury: "Your subconscious knows what it wants to write so get out of the way."
Thanks for having me on your blog!
Also check out my review of Gwendolyn Womack's novel, The Memory Painter.
The Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation by Gwendolyn WomackPublication Date: July 5, 2016 Picador USA Paperback; 336 Pages ISBN: 978-1250095770 Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Mystery/Romance Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.
Synopsis: Two lovers who have travelled across time. A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research. A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery. At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack's luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler's Wife, Life After Life and Winter's Tale.
Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there's a secret to Bryan's success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan's paintings, he is convinced she holds the key. Their meeting triggers Bryan's most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer's, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried. The Memory Painter is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.
“Gwendolyn Womack's tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)
“…hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ~ Library Journal, starred review
“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. . . . ” ~ M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative, poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning... ” ~ Charlie Lovett, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions
About the Author:
Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel. For more information visit Gwendolyn's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
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Also check out my review of Gwendolyn Womack's novel:
The Memory Painter