Today we welcome International Best Selling author, Phaedra Patrick, to Meeting the Authors. We travel to Saddleworth, in the North West of England and learn how stained glass, library shelves, aristocrats, Howard Hughes, and a local cricket pitch come together to form Phaedra’s curiously quirky writer’s life. Grab your library card and magnifying glass. Let’s go sleuthing …
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi. I’m an International bestselling writer who lives in Saddleworth, in the North West of England. It’s a pretty, very green area with lots of hills, but is only 12 miles away from the bright lights of Manchester. I firstly qualified as a stained glass artist before gaining my professional marketing qualifications and working in communications.
I enjoyed my first real writing success when I entered and won several short story competitions and my work is now published in twenty-two languages worldwide. I am the winner of the ‘Prix des Lectrices Milady 2017’ in France, and two of my books have been optioned as films in the USA.
In which genre do you write?
I like to call my work ‘curiously charming fiction.’ It’s commercial and feel-good, about everyday people and their life journeys. If you like heart-warming, quirky stories, you’ll probably like my books.
How many published books do you have?
The Library of Lost and Found is my third published book and I’m currently writing number four. My publisher in both the UK and US is HarperCollins.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I was around eight years old and I remember visiting my local library and thinking that, one day, I’d like to have a book on the shelves too. However, I didn’t think people like me became writers. I come from a town that’s one of the most deprived in the country, and I convinced myself that all authors were aristocrats. Because of these beliefs, I didn’t tell anyone about my ambition, and it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I finally decided to give it a go. I wrote seven or eight novels, until one got picked up for publication, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I’ll let you into a secret here, but when I’m stuck for words I walk around and around a local cricket pitch talking into my phone. It may make me look a little crazy, but it works. I also sit in a small shelter at a local bowling green when no-one is around. The fresh air helps to clear my mind and sets my ideas flowing again.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just started to read The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. I’ve always been interested in the business side of books, as well as writing them.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I’ve always been creative and originally studied art at college. I got so fed up of shopping for clothes in stores and finding them to be too big or small, that I’ve started to make my own dresses. I find cutting out the fabric to be therapeutic. I also paint, walk my dog and make sure I catch up with friends for lunch and chats.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’ve always had a fascination with Howard Hughes. It’s a shame he’s probably best remembered for his mental health issues and shutting himself away from society for many years. In his time, he was an aviator, film director, inventor, pilot, and business magnate. I’m sure his illness could have been better diagnosed and helped today. I’d ask him about his life story and how his health issues affected him.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
I was surprised to discover how tenacious I am. I’m kind of a quiet, gentle person, but when it comes to writing, I can be totally determined. I think it’s the main difference between people who write, and people who are published authors. It’s that continuous pushing forward through all the rejections.
What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
One day at work, in my old job in marketing and communications, my friend and I heard that Will Smith was going to be attending a lunchtime premiere at a cinema in the city. Our boss wasn’t around that day, so we took a long lunch break and waited for him. Will’s limo pulled up and he headed straight over to us to shake our hands. It was years ago now, but I’m still excited by it.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?
I usually have a chat to the hosts of the event, grab a glass of water or wine, nibble a biscuit and I’m good to go. I’m very low maintenance.
What do you miss about being a kid?
A world without social media. I find it to be both a blessing and a curse. When I’m trying to write, I hate how my hand is so tempted to reach for my phone, and I miss the simplicity of the days when you had to knock on people’s doors, or speak to them on the phone. On the plus side, writing can be very solitary, so social media provides a connection with the outside world. Being able to liaise with bloggers, readers and fellow writers across the globe is amazing.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I always had a soft spot for Scooby Doo! Daphne was so glamorous and we both have red hair, so she was a bit of a role model for me. I think a day spent solving mysteries with Scooby, Shaggy, Freddie and Thelma would be great fun.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I have a thirteen year old son, so it was Avengers Endgame. We worked out that we’ve actually seen all twenty-two of the Marvel movies. My favourite in the series is Iron Man. The script and story are brilliant, and Robert Downey Jnr eats up the screen.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
I would ask my little terrier – Why on earth do you bark so much? What are you actually saying? Why do you wag your tail and bare your teeth at other dogs, at the same time? It’s very confusing.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
Somewhere hot. I’m like a lizard that needs to soak up sunshine. I am only truly happy if I can wear sandals, so I would choose Croatia or Spain. I like the weather in the early evening, when it’s still hot but the sun is setting a little. An ice cold glass of white wine and a fine cheese board would be perfect.
Tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it.
The Library of Lost and Found tells the story of volunteer Librarian Martha Storm whose discovery of a mysterious book of fairy stories sparks the journey of a lifetime. It’s available as a paperback, ebook and audio in the UK, and can be found in Waterstones, other bookstores, Amazon, Kobo, Google Books and Apple Books.
Thank you Phaedra for stopping by Meeting the Authors. Quirky curiously charming fiction is right up my alley. Once I discovered you and your books about a month ago, I requested all three of your books from our local library.
I’ve just finished The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper and I thoroughly enjoyed Arthur’s journey. Just brilliant! Looking forward to reading The Library of Lost and Found! I’m so excited and thrilled that our paths crossed and I got the opportunity to interview you here. It was wonderful to uncover a few of the clues that lead to your curiously charming writer’s life! – Camilla
The Library of Lost and Found
A librarian’s discovery of a mysterious book sparks the journey of a lifetime. Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people―though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.
All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend―her grandmother Zelda―who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
Filled with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and vivid characters, The Library of Lost and Found is a heart-warming reminder that even the quietest life has the potential to be extraordinary.
Learn more about Phaedra and her books:
US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2FgjZpE
UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Fg50Mz
AU Amazon: https://amzn.to/2WQ0vOG
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And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …