It’s 1985 and Freya has just moved to Canada with her mother & brother after her father dies in a freak accident while on the job. While on a school field trip to the museum in Toronto, she notices a familiar-looking stranger and follows him for blocks back to his house. Not able to get him out of her mind, she becomes obsessed with figuring out their connection. Little does she know that the two of them have begun to unravel a carefully crafted plot that they were not to have discovered. Now on the run, they don’t know who or what they can trust.
I had no idea that this book was set in Toronto! And not only is in set in Toronto, but it features so many landmarks and streets of the city making it feel a lot more personal and authentic. I did wonder how that would translate to those who are not familiar with the city, and I got a chance to ask Ms Martin just that in the interview below.
Yesterday begins with Freya and her family in some distressing situation and the tone is set right off the bat. However, with their move to Canada, the pace significantly slows down quite a bit. True, Freya is unsure of the new surroundings and feeling out of sorts with her new home but the overall pacing felt a bit bizarre. This book is likened to those who are fans of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and I can get that same sense of it with how both books completely change tones in the last quarter. In Yesterday, the last chunk of the book feels like a completely different story and, while I do love the scenes that are set in the downtown area, it’s not until the chaos starts up that I really got fully hooked into the story. I knew there was an element of time in play but the twist it takes did take me a bit by surprise. What I thought was a mainly contemporary read became very sci-fi, very quickly.
1. I love seeing Toronto be the setting of more and more books lately. What made you decide on this city to set Yesterday in and what influenced your choices on the specific streets and landmarks?
I’m so glad! Toronto makes an appearance in most of my books because I’ve spent so many years living near enough to it (including 1985 so I’m aware of what’s changed and what’s remained the same) to take advantage of all it has to offer. But this time I really wanted Toronto to play a larger role and I had this image of Freya following Garren through the city streets. I also knew I wanted Freya to first spot him near the museum so doing research one day I wandered around various avenues and picked out his street. A lot of the choices were logistical ones – asking myself questions like if I wanted to set up a meeting with someone in a public place in 1985 where would I do it? The Eaton Centre, of course!
2. There are many references to very specific Toronto-area things from subway stations to different neighbourhoods. Were you concerned at all about readers who aren’t familiar with the city picking up the significance?
Not really because setting the book anywhere could give rise to those same problems. You’re always going to have a setting that is unfamiliar to some readers – like, I just read a book set in LA. And although I was there once in ’89 it’s far frome familiar to me. That didn’t make it problematic – it was sort of like taking a mental vacation. And I relished the idea of having the Toronto I knew in 1985 represented (stuff like the Simpsons department store at Yonge & Queen and the Bellair Café in Yorkville) in Yesterday. I’m a big fan of the city then and now.
3. Why 1985?
Years earlier I was going to write a very different book set in the 80s and never did so when I was looking to do something different from the contemporary novels I normally write (I’d penned a few in a row at that point) the desire to use 1985 as a setting was still there. The music was absolutely fantastic then and it was one of the first years where I was really able to wander around downtown independently and get to know the city. My best friend and I would hang out there and go to concerts by our favourite bands and artists. I guess you could say I wanted to revisit 1985 and this book was the closest I could come to a time machine!
4. Was it difficult to plot and write a story that involved different periods in time? What inspired the idea of time travel?
It was definitely a ton of research – more on the 2063 end, developing a realistic vision of the future, because I still remember the 80s pretty well. But I did look up a bunch of 80s material too and have a bunch of print-outs floating around my den – a timeline of important 80s historical events, chart songs for various months in 1985, movie release dates for that year etc.
I’ve always loved time travel plots – the idea that you could play God and manipulate time to change past mistakes…or maybe just make them again! The first books I wrote when I was seven (just for fun) were a series of time travel ones back to various time periods in history and into the future too. But the biggest single inspiration would probably be the original Terminator movie. I loved the idea of Kyle Reese wanting to go back in time so he could meet Sarah Connor. It’s primarily an action movie but that’s pretty damn romantic.
5. Did you know there would be a sequel when you started writing Yesterday? Have you planned out already how many more installments there will be?
When I began Yesterday I thought of it as a standalone book but by the time I got nearer to the end I definitely wanted to write more about Freya and Garren. I have detailed ideas for a second book and ideally would like to make the story a trilogy. But whether I can get a deal for more books or not depends on how well Yesterday sells. So fingers crossed!
Blog Tour Stops
(Awww among such great company on this blog tour!)