Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, The Forgotten Letters of Esthe Durrant, is Kayte Nunn.
Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of two contemporary novels, Rose’s Vintage and Angel’s Share. The Botanist’s Daughter was Kayte’s first novel of transporting historical fiction, followed by The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, set largely in the atmospheric Isles of Scilly.
Hello Kayte. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
Rooibos tea and definitely cake – any kind, I’m not fussy at all!
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
I have written four novels, the first two of which are contemporary fiction with a vineyard setting, and the second two are dual-timeline historical novels.
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is your latest release, can you describe it in just a sentence?
A young woman finds a cache of unsent love letters written more than sixty years ago.
What came first in the creation of the novel – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant?
The plot and the setting came first, closely followed by the characters. The title came after I was a long way into the writing process.
How long did it take you to write The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant?
Approximately 12 months, but I was editing my earlier book at that time as well, and I moved house twice.
Can you tell us about the research process to bring The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant to life? How did you incorporate this research into the narrative?
I did a lot of general research on life in Britain in the 1950s, and particularly in the Scilly Isles, where the book is set. I also researched psychiatric treatment at that time, particularly in regard to returned servicemen from the Second World War. I visited the Scilly Isles last year – a glorious part of the world and still so remote from the mainland.
What character did you most identify with in The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant?
I think mostly with Esther, with her stoicism. I gave Rachel characteristics that I admire in other people – self-reliance and self-containment.
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant is a dual time period novel, did you find one time period easier than the other to write? How hard was it to link the two time frames together?
I honestly loved writing both equally. I wrote each one separately, but they slotted together without too much hair-pulling on my part.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant?
I hope that they become immersed in the world of the story and are able to connect emotionally with the characters.
How will you celebrate the official release day of The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant?
I’m having a book launch in my home town two days after release, which I am really looking forward to, but the actual release day will probably be spent wrestling with a structural edit of my next manuscript.
How has your writing evolved since your first published novel?
I hope it has become more fluent, and with greater emotional depth.
How do you balance life with writing?
I write during school hours (and sometimes at the weekend), I make sure I go to the gym to combat all the sitting, and I love to cook to relax. I also spend a fair amount of time driving my two young daughters to their various activities.
Is there a genre you haven’t tried writing yet, but want to in the future?
I’d love to write a murder-mystery.
Aside from writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
This year I took up dragonboat paddling. It’s been years since I was part of a team and it is a social as well as competitive sport. I love getting out on the water early in the morning, or as the sun sets in the evening. Paddling in the dark this winter, I saw phosphorescence in the water, which was quite magical.
If you could slip back in time, what era would you travel to and why?
The sixties were a time of such wonderful design, fashion and music – I think to live in London then as a woman would have been fun.
What is next on the horizon for Kayte Nunn? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I am in the middle of edits for my next book, which involves the weaving industry of the late seventeenth century, herbalism, witchcraft and ghosts.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls is high on my list.
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
I wish my mum were still around to spend an afternoon with – we often joked that her blood was 90 per cent tea – and I would love to tell her how much my life has changed in the past fifteen years.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Kayte. Congratulations on the publication of The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant!
A cache of unsent love letters from the 1950s is found in a suitcase on a remote island in this mysterious love story by top ten bestselling author, Kayte Nunn
1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison but soon becomes her refuge.
2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient.
Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn is published by Hachette Australia. Out now. $29.99
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