Brought up believing people like her could not become writers, it wasn’t until Phaedra was in her twenties, and read Bridget Jones’s Diary that she gained the confidence to write. Treating writing as a project, she wrote five novels before her debut. The final two were picked up by an agent, but didn’t sell.
“I decided the sixth had to be the one,” she says. “I won some short story competitions, and decided to write about an elderly man. I forgot about publishers, and wrote the book I wanted to write. It felt real. I just wrote the story.”
Meanwhile, Phaedra had moved from a job in glass design to one in marketing. She wrote on the train to and from work, and on Fridays. The debut has sold to 19 countries.
Who is Phaedra Patrick?
Date of birth: In her forties; in Oldham, Lancashire.
Education: Kaskenmoor Comprehensive School. Oldham College; Art. College of North Wales; Stained glass. Night School: Professional qualification in Marketing.
Home: Saddleworth, near Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Family: Husband and 10 year old son.
The Day Job: Phaedra was offered redundancy last June, at the same time as her book deals came through. She’s now a fulltime writer.
Interests: Art; painting; jewellery design.
Favourite Writers: Antoine Laurain; Sarah Addison Allen. Homer Hickman.
Second Novel: It’s almost finished. “And I have ideas for books three and four.”
Top Tip: To write whenever you can; in the queue at the bank; on the train. Write notes, and write them up when you have a few hours. And write about things you love; your favourite object, location or character.
Web: www.phaedra-patrick.com Twitter: @Pheadrapatrick
The Debut: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. Mira: €11.99. Kindle: €7.12.
After a happy, forty year marriage, Arthur Pepper is widowed. Set in his ways, he rarely speaks to anyone. Then clearing his wife’s wardrobe, exactly year after she died, he finds a charm bracelet.
Following clues, charm by charm, he travels from Yorkshire to London, Paris and India, learning secrets from Miriam’s former life. And as he travels, so he changes.
“I had a charm bracelet when I was younger. That gave me the idea.”
The Verdict: Quirky, funny and poignant; this is emotional escapism to make you smile.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 23rd April, 2016
© Sue Leonard. 2016.