Kate Mascarenhas’ debut novel, The Psycology of Time Travel, was published by Head of Zeus on
Kate kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Psychology of Time Travel
It’s a time travel murder mystery with three main strands. Barbara’s a scientist who helped invent time travel in 1967 but lost her job when she had a breakdown. Her granddaughter Ruby is a psychologist who tries, years later, to piece together what happened. And Odette’s an aspiring detective, investigating the murder of an unknown woman—possibly Barbara—in 2018.
2. What inspired the book?
I love time travel stories, and had wanted to write one for a long time. In 2015, I was reading a book about the use of psychological screening in the selection of astronauts. That started me thinking – what sort of psychological profile would a time traveller need? Who would be seen as a liability, and would someone who had adapted well to the stresses of time travel be maladjusted in other areas of their life?
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
For the first draft, I don’t plan at all. I normally have a clear idea of the opening scene, a couple of characters and an initial predicament that they’re in. That’s enough for me to start writing and I work the rest out as I go along. As I progress through the story I note down a running list of questions that I need to address on the next draft, and that develops into a kind of plan for my revisions.
4. Having been through the publishing process was there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
No, but there was an ongoing sense of not knowing which parts of the process were normal for a typical publishing journey, and which were better or worse. I think that’s the experience of most debut authors.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I make dolls’ houses, and I bind books. Working with my hands is a really enjoyable antidote to sitting at my desk grappling with plot and character.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. I love all of Spark’s writing but this is my favourite. And Miss Brodie is in some ways very like Margaret, the villain in The Psychology of Time Travel – they’re both elitist, obsessed with hierarchy and betrayal.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I think, so far, people have commented on the large number of characters in the book but haven’t asked why I chose to include so many different people. And the answer is, I wanted to show how the groups we belong to can play as great a role as personality in shaping our decisions, and indeed can determine the decisions that are available to us. It is much easier to explore those issues with a big cast. I also wanted to push back a little against the idea of the lone genius; most scientific achievements are the work of teams.
About the book
A time-travel murder mystery from a brilliantly original new voice.
About the author
Kate Mascarenhas is a half-Irish, half-Seychellois midlander. She is a qualified child psychologist, dabbling in doll-making and bookbinding in her free time. She lives with her husband in a small terraced house, which she is slowly filling with Sindy dolls.This is her first novel.