Newly divorced after 11 years of marriage, Pat feels attracted to Roland, a married man, especially after he gets her out of a tricky situation involving her dog Brian and a rabbit named Bulstrode. (Nancy Pearl)
After eleven years of marriage to an egocentric opera singer, Pat Murray packs up her daughter and leaves, regaining control of her life and approaching single parenthood bravely until she meets Roland and his pregnant wife.
1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
I’d work with Deborah Moggach because she is absolutely brilliant at turning prose into film and I’d love to have a film made of one (or more) of my books.
2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I do all my pre-writing work in bed before I get up. I make a pot of tea and go through emails and anything businesslike that needs attending to, and fan mail.and personal stuff. So it depends when all that is finished for a start time. But usually I am at my desk by 10.15am and work through to 2pm. And then maybe go back to it at about 5pm. I’m far less rigid about my work schedule nowadays but there is still nothing like the pleasure of feeling I’ve done a good day’s writing.
3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Still convincing myself that I have something to say that readers want to read about. Belief in self is one of the keys to being a writer. It’s a lonely old business sitting there inventing worlds.
4. When and why did you first start writing?
It was about a year after my daughter was born, I thought ‘I want to be at home with this baby so what can I do to keep myself working and earning at the same time? I know, I’ll be a writer.’ That was in 1980. Took me seven years to get a novel accepted by a publisher – but it was a good learning journey.’
5. How did you come up with the idea for your book?
From my own experience of breaking up with my daughter’s father. It just tumbled out.
6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
Yes – I read fiction at night and non-fiction in the afternoons. I used to read poetry before I got up in the mornings but my eyes like to remain closed over my cup of tea nowadays. I do love poetry, though. Currently I’m reading Seamus Deane’s Booker nominated novel (from 1996) ‘Reading in the Dark’ which is about growing up in post-2ndWW Ireland – and is just wonderful – a ‘Rhapsodic and heartbreaking novel of family grief and political violence’ according to Seamus Heaney – and I concur. I’ve just finished Kathryn Stockett’s mistressly ‘The Help’ and will soon be going on to Anthony Trollope’s ‘Dr Thorne’. My current non-fiction read is Linda Porter’s ‘Katherine Parr’ and Susie Steinbach’s ‘Women in England: A Social History’. Both bursting with compelling research and engaging style. I think we all like to go on learning at any age. Nothing wrong with having your opinions challenged.
7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Work out what it is you want to say in what you want to write. That is its heartbeat, its spine, its backbone – you need to leave a reader feeling they have learned something new – albeit just your own personal take on the world. In simple terms, what is your message? Work that out and it will save you much grief and wandering about all over the place as you write your tale. I teach creative writing and it is sad seeing someone with a huge typescript who is bowed down with wondering how to make sense of it because they haven’t actually worked out what they want to say. The more unpleasant word for it is ‘angle’.