Jacqueline Winspear in conversation with Jennifer Barth
Sunday, May 10, 2020
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Jacqueline Winspear was born and raised in the county of Kent, England. Following higher education at the University of London’s Institute of Education, Jacqueline worked in academic publishing, in higher education and in marketing communications in the UK. She emigrated to the United States in 1990, and while working in business and as a personal/professional coach, Jacqueline embarked upon a life-long dream to be a writer—she subsequently became a regular contributor to journals covering international education and travel, and has published articles in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and other publications. Her short stories have appeared in magazines internationally, and Jacqueline has recorded her essays for KQED radio in San Francisco. She has contributed to several anthologies of essays and short stories.
Jacqueline’s grandfather was severely wounded and shell-shocked at The Battle of the Somme in 1916, and it was as she understood the extent of his suffering that, even in childhood, Jacqueline became deeply interested in the “war to end all wars” and its aftereffects. As an adult her interest deepened to the extent that, though she did not set out to write a “war” novel, it came as no surprise that this part of history formed the backdrop of Maisie Dobbs and other books in the series. The unique and engaging character of Maisie Dobbs is very much a woman of her generation. She has come of age at a time when women took on the toil of men and claimed independence that was difficult to relinquish. It was a time when many women remained unmarried, simply because a generation of men had gone to war and not come home.
“The war and its aftermath provide fertile ground for a mystery. Such great social upheaval allows for the strange and unusual to emerge and a time of intense emotions can, to the writer of fiction, provide ample fodder for a compelling story, especially one concerning criminal acts and issues of guilt and innocence. After all, a generation is said to have lost its innocence in The Great War. The mystery genre provides a wonderful vehicle for exploring such a time,” explains Ms. Winspear.
Jacqueline’s first novel, Maisie Dobbs, was a National Bestseller and received an array of accolades, including New York Times Notable Book 2003, a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Mystery 2003, and a BookSense Top Ten selection. In addition, the novel was nominated for 7 awards, including the Edgar® for Best Novel—only the second time a first novel was nominated in this category. She subsequently won the prestigious Agatha Award for Best First Novel, the Macavity Award for Best First Novel, and the Alex Award, which is presented annually by the American Library Association in conjunction with the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust. Subsequent novels in the series have continued to win awards. Together with The American Agent (2019), Jacqueline has now published 15 novels in the Maisie Dobbs series, including the New York Times bestsellers To Die But Once, In This Grave Hour, Journey to Munich, A Dangerous Place, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Elegy for Eddie, A Lesson in Secrets, The Mapping of Love and Death, Among The Mad and An Incomplete Revenge, as well as four other National Bestselling novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times and National Bestseller, and a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. In 2019, Jacqueline published What Would Maisie Do? a nonfiction book based upon the series, and in November 2020 her memoir, This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing will be published by Soho Press.
“Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.”
– Jacqueline Winspear
Jacqueline Winspear is the creator of the award-winning New York Times and National Bestselling series featuring psychologist and investigator, Maisie Dobbs.
The American Agent the 16th novel in the series was published in 2019, as was What Would Maisie Do? – a non-fiction book based on the series. Jacqueline’s “standalone” novel set in WW1, The Care and Management of Lies, was a finalist for the 2015 Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
Her memoir, This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing, will be published in November. Originally from the UK, Jacqueline now lives in northern California.
Visit the Book Passage website to have any of Jackie’s books delivered right to your door.
You’re sure to enjoy these Book Passage favorites:
The American Agent: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
To Die but Once: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
Pardonable Lies: A Maisie Dobbs Novel
Get ready to join Jacqueline in conversation, Sunday, May 10th.
In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.
Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.
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Any chance Maisie Dobbs is going to go back to France to connect with the family there (from Pardonable Lies) during World War 2?
I was inspired by your trajectory, classes with Adair Lara, which got you to writing a mystery and publishing. I wrote a mystery with Adair’s nudging, but have been unable to get an agent interested. I’m wondering if you might have a suggestion as to what to do next?
Was there ever an interest from the BBC or any network to produce a Maisie Dobbs series?
Describe a fork in the road for you personally…an intersection, where had you made a different choice your life would have unfolded in a completely different manner.
My cousin in Austria share books, read them at the same time. Have the maisie books been translated? I would love to start us with them
What is Maisie Dobbs greatest vulnerability? What do you think contributed to building her greatest strength?
Is travel a large part of your research? How is your writing practice affected by the pandemic?
Will there be a presequel to Maisie Dobbs because I am interested in learning more about Maisie’s apprenticeship with Maurice Blanche and her studies in Edinburgh. Thank you.
Will you be writing anymore books in the Maisie Dobbs series? How many…And will it take us up and thru the end of WW2?