Andrew Ewart is the author of Forget Me which was published by Orion on 20 February 2020.
Andrew kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Forget Me.
It’s a speculative thriller about memory. The first scene shows a young couple, Euan and Hannah, involved in a car crash that leaves him with amnesia. To bring back the man she loves, Hannah embarks upon an experimental procedure led by a charismatic neuropsychiatrist named Dr Cal. But as she delves into Euan’s memories, everything becomes more troubling and twisted. If you could look into the mind of the person you loved most in the world, would you like everything you saw?
2. What inspired the book?
Despite the novel venturing into some very dark corners of the psyche, the concept started out as a jokey conversation with my wife Laura. We were talking about how we first met – a tied-together pub crawl in Freshers’ Week at university – and realised we had quite different recollections of various stages of our relationship! There was also a large personal element in the theme of memory loss because my father George suffers from vascular dementia. He’s doing fine at the moment thanks to my mother’s care but the threat of losing your treasured memories is an awful one. One of Hannah’s torments in Forget Me is trying to reconcile herself with a version of Euan who looks like her husband – but is a complete stranger to her.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
The structure of Forget Me took a long while to come together. The split between a love story and a thriller, with the light and shade, was a real balancing act. After a couple of early drafts I cut 20,000 words of Hannah and Euan’s romance simply because they had no narrative thrust. I have a rough plot idea with whatever I’m working on, but halfway through a few wild concepts jump into my brain – the latest idea always seems the most exciting path to take. Sometimes it leads to a dead end and you have to retrace your steps. But there has to be an element of spontaneity in writing otherwise the process feels too mechanical.
4. Having been through the publishing process, is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
There is a temptation to think that once you have a publishing deal, you’ve made it. Finishing a first draft, redrafting, redrafting, querying agents, more redrafting, submitting to publishers. The contract comes through! You’ve done it! Now you can relax. Oh no, wait – more and more redrafting. My former boss once said I was ‘living the dream’. When you’re struggling with edits alongside a fulltime job and childcare, and trying to write the follow-up too, that can sound tragically misguided. But the best moment was hearing the voice actor David Monteath read the audiobook. He has a voice like honey-covered heather and I just enjoyed a magical evening with my headphones on and a few drams, listening to him bring everything to life.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Right now, thanks to this horrible virus, I’m co-headmaster of a home nursery along with my wife. We run a tight ship although we only have one pupil – our daughter Arianne, who’s coming up for four. Even before the pandemic, life was incredibly full-on with work and childcare! I’m not sure what the future holds but I’m incredibly lucky to have my girls.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
When I was a teenager I used to read IT by Stephen King every Christmas; starting as school broke up for the holidays and finishing on Christmas Eve. I’d loved books before that, but I’ve never yearned so badly to be in a gang of pals fighting a killer clown in the late-Fifties. Even though it means right now I’d be in my seventies and struggling with residual greasepaint trauma. Either that or Hitch-Hiker’s Guide, because there are five books in the ‘trilogy’ and the jokes-to-page ratio is sensational. Maybe I should get cracking on War And Peace. It’s been sitting on my coffee table for so long it’s just embarrassing.
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?
What music inspired your book? When I’m writing I always think of what the characters would listen to; you can tell so much about a person from their musical tastes. I always saw Euan – being romantically reckless but with a tendency towards gloom – listening to old-school punk such as The Damned or The Ramones to let off steam. Hannah likes more thoughtful songs, a bit of edgy folk like Frightened Rabbit or Neutral Milk Hotel, but has a sneaking love for the boybands of her youth which she’d never dare admit to Euan. And Dr Cal listens to ambient chillout music – because when he’s not thinking about his project, his mind is blank.
About the book
Your partner doesn’t remember anything: how you met, your first kiss, not even your wedding day. An experimental treatment promises to recover the memories they lost. But some memories are better off hidden.
How far would you go to bring back the one you love? And what if the truth hurts more than the secrets.