Is it possible that a world can be divided by memory retention instead of race, wealth, or religion? Felicia Yap tells the story of a psychological thriller in Yesterday, centered around murder and a society where there are only two classes – Monos, those who can remember events from the past 24 hours; and Duos, those who retain up to 48 hours of memory. We speak to the Malaysian born author about her debut novel.
What inspired Yesterday?
Yesterday was inspired by the journeys I made. The initial idea for the story came to me on the move. My fiancé Alex and I were travelling to a dance studio in Cambridge when a question surged into my head: ‘How do you solve a murder when you only remember yesterday?’. It was such a fascinating concept, I couldn’t stop thinking about it after we arrived at the venue. Alex and I began practising a tango, yet my mind kept returning to the delicious possibilities within this speculative world. I worked out the early contours of the story before we left the dance floor, between our twists and turns. You could say that twists and turns were built into the fabric of the book, right from the start.
The idea for the final series of twists (especially the killer twist at the end) came to me during a train journey between London and Winchester. This is why one of my main characters is called Anna May Winchester. I remember phoning Alex in a frenzy of excitement as soon as I got off the train, bellowing down the line that I had finally managed to work it all out.
I wrote one of the pivotal scenes of the book (when my character Mark Henry Evans finally figures out the meaning of love and how it’s related to rabbit stew) on a plane above the Atlantic Ocean. My agents sent the manuscript out to publishers on both sides of the Atlantic merely two days later.