Sunday 10 April 2016

Guest Post: Phaedra Patrick on how early writing and reading inspired her

TITLE: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper
AUTHOR: Phaedra Patrick


Amazon - Goodreads

40 Years of Marriage.
8 Golden Charms.
One Man’s Journey of Discovery.

Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.

What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.

My early reading and writing (and how this inspired me) 
by Phaedra Patrick

As a child I read everything I could, from books at the breakfast table to the labels on shampoo bottles. I knew I wanted to be a writer. I loved Enid Blyton and her stories about boarding school and ruddy-faced kids on adventures. However, I was a young girl from Oldham and didn’t know enough about these things to write about them. I tried to stifle my longing, but it never went away.

For my eighth birthday, my parents joined a book club for me. I found it thrilling when the quarterly magazine dropped on the doormat and I could choose and order a book. I was always attracted to the fairy stories – books with stories of make-believe lands and with beautiful illustrations.

At school, I found English Literature deadly dull. Reading and learning about Shakespeare and Steinbeck didn’t inspire me, but I liked to make up stories in English Language. It didn’t seem too much like work.

My school didn’t offer English Language to study at A Level, nor did the local sixth form college, so I studied art instead. I worked as a stained glass designer and then moved into Marketing. Yet, throughout all this time I really wanted to write a novel. If only I could silence the voice in my head telling me that I couldn’t do it.

It was in my twenties, doing a job I hated, that I finally plucked up the courage to give it a go. I taught myself to touch type and camped out in WHSmith at lunchtime, where I browsed the books, read blurbs and swatted up on the literary agents noted in the authors’ acknowledgements.

I looked back to my childhood and thought about all the books I liked to read. They were the ones that combined stories about everyday people with adventure and a touch of make-believe. I decided to use Chocolat, Slumdog Millionaire and Tom Hanks movies as my benchmark.

It took me six attempts but finally my novel The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper will be published in eighteen countries. It finds a lonely, bewildered Yorkshireman setting off on a journey to find out the story behind each of the charms on his late wife’s bracelet.

Arthur’s adventures - fending off a ferocious tiger, meeting a famous novelist, shedding his clothes for art and dancing in Paris - might seem a little incredible at times, but I’ve found that, as a writer, you’re in charge of your own magic wand.

It’s certainly great fun to look back to your earlier years, and the things that inspired you then, to throw them into the mix and to create your own story.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is out now.


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