In her latest novel – The Last Kiss Goodbye – Tasmina offers us an intriguing and heartfelt story of love, loss and discovery. Following a personal heartache, Abby Morgan comes across a faded old photograph in a museum vault that shows an explorer saying goodbye to the woman he loves. We are then taken on an incredible journey of discovery as Abby becomes obsessed with uncovering the story behind the photograph.
We caught up with Tasmina to hear more about her new novel, as well as her passion for travel and food.
Hi Tasmina! What can you tell us about The Last Kiss Goodbye?
The heroine of The Last Kiss Goodbye is an archivist called Abby who has just separated from her unfaithful husband. In the middle of curating an exhibition she finds a photograph of an adventurer saying goodbye to his lover. The photo affects her deeply, especially when she finds out that the explorer went missing directly after the picture was taken, and she vows to find out why he disappeared and what happened to the woman he left behind. It’s a novel about the power of love and loss. I was inspired by that final scene in The Way We Were when Barbara Streisand puts her hand on Robert Redford’s face to say goodbye and let him go.
How would you sum Abby Morgan up in 3 words?
A hopeful romantic.
Why does Abby becomes so obsessed with finding out more about the lovers she finds in the photograph?
When we meet Abby at the start of the novel she’s lost and confused. She’s had her heart broken but she wants to believe in love again. Finding out what happened to Dominic and Rosamund (the explorer and his fiancé) doesn’t just give her something to focus on after the breakdown of her marriage. It also gives her a reason to believe in true love again. I think everyone wants that!
Do you think we view love in the past differently to love in the present day?
The book follows two love stories – a modern marriage set in the present day and a love affair between two people in the 1960s who, on paper, aren’t really suited. What I find interesting about relationships that took place fifty years or more ago was that they were often based on restraint or even denial, more so than today. I found old-fashioned courtship and the restrictions of the day quite a powerful and romantic thing to write about.
On your blog you often write about places that inspire your novels. In The Last Kiss Goodbye you chose to write about several locations including Paris, London and St Petersburg. Why these cities in particular?
My sister used to live in Paris. She had this little flat that overlooked the Sacré-Coeur and I used to sit there at night watching it, thinking and dreaming about how I could one day write about how magical it was. So I love setting scenes there now I am a published author!
Some of the action in The Last Kiss Goodbye takes place in London in 1961 and that was fun to write about too. You had all this glamour – the jazz clubs of Soho, the Chelsea scene, the sexual liberation – all set against the background of the Cold War and the threat of Soviet spies living amongst us. Fascinating.
What is it about Paris that makes it such a romantic city?
We’re brought up to believe that Paris has a magical quality. I think a lot of that comes from our pop culture references. Whether it’s in the films An American in Paris or Before Sunset or in the final episodes of Sex and the City, Paris is portrayed as ‘romance in a bottle’ and when you go there it doesn’t disappoint. I think the architecture helps – the beautiful bridges such as the Pont Neuf, the atmospheric corners such as Le Marais, and the islands such as the Île Saint-Louis in the Seine. Plus it’s a real city of the senses – the riverside bookshops, the boulangeries, the café culture just make you want to relax and enjoy life. But Paris is not a toy town. It’s quite undone around the edges. So in many ways it’s like love and relationships: magical but not perfect.
What’s left on your list of places to travel to?
I went to Utah and Wyoming recently and loved that sort of wide open space terrain, so I’d like to see more of that and places such as Patagonia, the Australian outback and some of the more remote Scottish islands like Harris. I seem to be glued to my computer and phone these days so I try to do a bit of a digital detox on holiday, and those mighty wilderness trips are made for unplugging and unwinding.
Food is another subject that you write about often. Have you ever considered writing a recipe book?
It’s my little secret dream to do that! My dad is a brilliant cook and even opened a restaurant when he retired, so I’ve been brought up to love food. Over the past ten years I’ve been collecting recipes and food ideas from all the places I’ve visited around the world, so now I’ve got this idea for a blog called The Beach Kitchen which combines food and travel – two things I think go hand in hand. I just need to cook and photograph them all. If only I can find the time!
If you could write any other genre, what would it be and why?
Lots of my books have an element of intrigue to them – Perfect Strangers was almost a romantic suspense novel, so I will probably try my hand at a pure thriller at some point. One of my favourite sunlounger reads is The Pelican Brief and I love TV shows such as The Good Wife and Damages, so it will probably be some sort of legal thriller. I qualified as a solicitor before I swapped careers and became a journalist, so at least I can convince myself that my six years of legal training weren’t a complete waste of time!
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m going to Savannah soon so I’m reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in preparation. I’m looking forward to Jane Green’s new novel, Summer Secrets. I’ve also been watching Wayward Pines on TV (Matt Dillon was my teenage crush!) so I’ve been giving that series of books (Blake Crouch’s Pines trilogy) a go too.