With one week until the launch of The Memories Between Us, we thought we would celebrate and ask K.V. Peck a few questions. In this Q&A, Karen talks about her inspiration behind the book, her writing process, and the themes she explores in the story. From time travel to grief and loss, K.V. Peck takes us on a journey through memory and the possibilities it presents. Join us as we delve deeper into the mind of the author behind this intriguing new novel coming May 2, 2023.
It’s never too late to be transformed by love.
Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your book, The Memories Between Us?
My inspiration comes from science and from what I love to read. I adore science fiction, speculative stories, and the many tropes of time travel. I am fascinated with the research on Multiverse theory.
I enjoy romantic stories and happy endings. When storytelling can turn your perceptions upside down, the twists and surprises are so much fun. Exploring memory is to learn that our perceptions and realities don’t always jive. That makes for interesting fiction.
How did you come up with the concept of the portal, "Ouroboros," that allows for time travel?
Once I knew I wanted to write a speculative time travel story, I researched symbols for the idea of infinity and eternity. The symbol of the Ouroboros, a snake, or sometimes a dragon, swallowing its own tail, forms a circle. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung considers the cross-cultural ouroboros an archetype for human consciousness. Myths connected to the ouroboros include stories of the nature of the universe, time, and cycles of destruction and creation. Its circular shape symbolizes something without a beginning or end. For meaningful change to happen in our main characters, oftentimes something must be destroyed for something new to be born. I find the symbol of the ouroboros a metaphor for repetition, eternity, change, and for the nature of memories.
How do you see the themes of grief and loss playing out in the story?
Much of my work focuses on grief, loss, trauma, and relationships. After the loss of someone you love, have you thought, “If only I could go back to that moment and change everything? If only I had one more day or one more minute with that person.”
What happens if what you wish for can be tried on for size? Is the past “fate” or one of many possibilities?
A common bedeviling experience of people with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is that the past becomes ever-present, intrusive, and a loop, repeating. After Viv’s death, Joshua is stuck in a loop. He can’t stop obsessing. He’s dogged by his grief and driven to travel through time to return to the woman he loves. For Joshua, and most of us, memory is not a recording of events so much as a reflection of how we perceive events. This can lead to misconceptions and to obsession.
Isn’t memory a way to time travel? When we remember, we are traveling back to a time in the past. But as our perceptions change, the past—or our memories of the past—also change. And then, perhaps, we can heal from our grief and loss.
Can you talk a bit about the relationship between Joshua and Viv, and what motivated you to explore that dynamic?
Opposites often attract, and in The Memories Between Us, there are multiple opposites, twinned ideas, contrasts, be they two sides of a coin, motion and stillness, reality and perception, certainty and doubt. I wanted contrasts for Joshua and Vivica.
Some psychologists say that adult relationships are recreations of those we experienced in our families of origin. Aside from the strong physical attraction they hold for one another, their opposite personalities are also key to their attraction.
Joshua is a shy, sensitive artist. He values family and his close, but few friendships above all else. He calls on experiences from his childhood—his close relationship with his parents and his sister who is also his best friend. He’s a nerdy, science-loving kind of artist and introvert.
Viv is attracted to Joshua because of his deep connection to family, his sweetness, and his artistry. Viv’s family of origin is dysfunctional. Joshua offers her something she always wanted—a close family. And she’s an extroverted “talk nerdy to me” kind of gal. Viv offers Joshua an awakening to his feelings that he can sometimes block. Viv is also able to ease his anxiety with her practicality.
What Joshua and Viv share is a love of perfection. But they aren’t perfect. I wanted to explore the lengths passionate people might go to to create or sabotage their idea of a perfect relationship.
Can you talk about your writing process and how it contributed to the final product of The Memories Between Us?
I do a lot of reading and research before drafting a story. For The Memories Between Us, I devoured theories on time travel and the many tropes used in time travel books and films. Often something in the research gave me a launching point for an idea. I needed to decide, for example, if you could travel to the past, would you be able to meet yourself corporeally? (I decided no.) If not, then there had to be a “rule” or story consistency to make meeting yourself impossible. Dr. Art Bell (Joshua’s father) explains this to his mentee.
I talked with my science fiction-loving particle physicist son also. I’m the first to tell you I don’t understand quantum physics, but he helped me understand some concepts that in turn helped me put believable (but not actual) “science” in my speculative fiction. My daughter grew up performing on stage and became a professional child opera singer. Being a theater mom helped me develop the character of Jane, who is an actor. I am also an obsessive editor. I revise until I can get a story as close to perfect as possible. I don’t think revision ever ends for me and even now that The Memories Between Us is published, I still think, “Oh, I could have worded it this way instead.” Being obsessive as a writer is both a blessing and a curse.
How do you think the book's themes of time travel and love translate to real life?
In real life, so I’m told, time travel isn’t real. This means traveling through our memories is the way to “go back” in time and reframe our beliefs and our hurts. Grief never leaves us, but it can become less front and center in our daily lives. It is possible to find meaning in our painful experiences and change our futures as a result. That freedom from pain and search for meaning makes room for love.
K.V. Peck (Karen)
Can you discuss any personal connections you have to the themes or characters in the book?
I had a traumatic loss when I was twenty. My only sister died by suicide. She died on December 29th, but I was out of the country traveling as a poor student on winter break (in a time before mobile phones.) When I returned, it was January 11th. I chose January 11, 2010, for the day of Viv’s crash because of the personal significance to me and because of the mirrored aspect of the number (01/11/10). I used twinned effects as a motif throughout the book. Unknown to me, I later learned I suffered from PTSD for many years. Memory was both the source of pain and the source of healing or renewal for me. Sadly, during the revision process, my mother died. I wrote some new scenes that center on Joshua making peace with the fact that he didn’t get to say goodbye to his mother. My mom resides in the book through Joshua’s grief.
How do you think the book addresses the idea of holding onto memories?
I can hear Dr. Art Bell saying, “Memories are slippery things,” and they are. Our memories can be fleeting, or unrelentingly obsessive. Memories can change as we learn more, as time dilutes them, as we need them to reframe traumatic events. We can argue that we choose to hold onto memories, or that we have no control over our memories. Whatever your belief, your memories will form the meaning of your life. When Joshua’s father experiences Alzheimer’s disease, he moves from living with memories to living fully in the present. Jane wonders aloud if feeling like his dead wife is ever-present is a blessing. How we hold onto memories or let them go impacts our behavior each minute we are alive.
Sometimes others keep memories for us. Jane holds memories for Joshua. Joshua and Jane hold memories for their father, who has forgotten so much due to his illness. Places and things those who died leave behind can hold memories.
Can you discuss any challenges you faced while writing The Memories Between Us?
When I started to write The Memories Between Us, I thought I was writing a psychological thriller. I planned to use time travel as a metaphor to explore memory. But if Joshua could actually time travel, that would make a better story. It also made drafting the book more challenging because I needed a way to make time travel convincing.
Can you talk about how science fiction influenced the writing of this book?
The first book I recall “wowing” me as a child was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Later, I read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur Asimov, and Ray Bradbury. I grew up on Star Trek (the original and The Next Generation, and subsequent series.) I love the movies Inception, Interstellar, Tenet, and Memento (all by Christopher Nolan!), Back to the Future, and Terminator.
I love stories that explore states of consciousness and memory and enjoy non-linear storytelling. The Time Traveler’s Wife was a great read about a time traveler but was really a non-linear love story about free will vs. fate. About Time, a time travel romance movie, influenced my thinking on second (and more) chances and on being present. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North, and Meet Me in Another Life, by Catriona Silvey, were new takes on the complexities of memory and repeating lives. The varieties of approaches to understanding how we move through time, what we remember or misremember, and how love fits into all this, influenced my writing of The Memories Between Us.
How do you see the book fitting into the larger genre of speculative fiction?
I consider speculative fiction “plausible but not actually possible.” Speculative fiction speculates on the what-ifs and possibilities. Speculative fiction is contemporary and often combines multiple genres, which may include science fiction, paranormal, horror, and romance. The Memories Between Us is multi-genre, contemporary, with reality-based science fiction, a bit of suspense, and romance and mystery driving the action.
What do you hope readers take away from their experience reading The Memories Between Us?
My hope is that readers connect to the characters and see them as real and are rooting for love. I hope they find puzzling out the timelines and parallel universe overlaps entertaining. We can’t change the past. But this moment is an opportunity to change the direction of our lives going forward. Even in the face of trauma and loss, there is always the possibility for renewal and love. Readers end the story feeling a sense of possibility and hope.
Do you have anything else you'd like to share with your readers?
I think readers will relate to Joshua’s grief and his transformation, feeling the depth of love between characters in the book and how important community and love is for us to be happy. I also hope readers feel a sense of awe and possibility. It’s never too late to be transformed by love.
K.V. Peck's The Memories Between Us takes readers on a journey of grief, love, and time travel. Through the use of symbols and the exploration of memory, Peck creates a world where the past, present, and future converge, and nothing is quite what it seems. With an emphasis on family, relationships, and the lengths we will go to create a perfect life, this book is sure to capture the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Thank you for reading! If you've enjoyed K.V. Peck's interview, grab your copy of The Memories Between Us online or from your favorite bookseller, releasing May 2nd in all formats!
About the author:
K.V. Peck (she/her) is the author of The Memories Between Us, a speculative fiction novel set in contemporary New York City with a twist on time travel. A Bronx, New York native, K.V. Peck lives in Naperville, Illinois, with her husband. Peck loves traveling in their camper to see friends, family, and her adult children across the U.S. and Canada. Formerly a marketing executive, she holds a Masters of Writing, Editing, and Publishing. K.V. Peck is a lifelong lover of science fiction, and has a soft spot for romantic stories. She strives to live her values to uphold the worth and dignity of all people. Through the power of words, she aims to educate, advocate, support, and shift perspectives. She hopes readers find solace in knowing that even in the face of trauma, there is always the possibility for renewal and love. Follow K.V. Peck on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
About the publisher:
5310 Publishing is home to original and skilled authors who want to cause a positive impact. We publish stories that readers can relate to. We help writers who want to help, encourage, and heal others. Always looking for people who want to transform society and their community, 5310 believes that innovation starts with us, and only we have the capability to build a better future. Follow @5310publishing on Twitter and Instagram.