Interviewing Patricia M Osborne

When did you first start writing fiction?

I’ve always written some fiction but more seriously since 2013 when I began House of Grace. On entering the fictional world I discovered I could transport myself to any time, anywhere and become anyone I wanted to be. I’ve never looked back.

What challenges did you experience in writing your first novel?

Adjusting from writing short stories to novels was quite a challenge as it’s a different way of writing. You can afford to spend more time on a scene. For instance, beta readers wanted food menu details for the fashion show buffet. In a short story you can’t afford all that detail.

The biggest challenge was letting go once the book was finished. The manuscript went backwards and forwards from myself to my editor and I didn’t want to let go. In the end my editor made the decision for me, otherwise I’m sure I’d have gone on forever. It would never be finished.

What are the aspects of fiction writing that you enjoy the most?

In my novel writing and short stories I love writing about family and the fifties and sixties are my favourite eras. My poetry, however, is quite different, because here I’ll write about anything. Myth with nature plays a big part but I also like to write about people. I can become a tree, bird, or indeed a man, and prefer to write in narrative free verse.

Do you have a favourite place or time of day to write?

Afternoons and evenings are my best time to write and my muse tends to visit me in the early hours of the morning, normally just as I’m about to drop off to sleep. This necessitates me waking up so I can write down what has come to me before I forget. If I am stuck on a project then I’ll make a point of working on it before bed and nine times out of ten the answer appears in my dreams.

What made you choose the fifties and sixties eras for your novel?

I suppose because they are my child and adolescent years and I love looking back.

What is it about your family saga series that you think attracts older readers?

The reader travels with the protagonist and is able to reminisce and relate to the events.  

My memories help for starters but also other people’s memories. For instance, one of the reasons I decided to open House of Grace in 1950 was because it made Grace almost the same age as my mum when she first met my dad. My late mum was great for information as was one of my late aunts. Other forms of research have come from Facebook groups and my own personal Facebook page. Readers love to be involved and are always ready to answer my questions. Google of course is a great help. We are very lucky as writers these days with research at the punch of a key. Not forgetting books, which are a great resource too. A writer needs to read.

What do you find most useful in terms of sources for research?

My memories help for starters but also other people’s memories. For instance, one of the reasons I decided to open House of Grace in 1950 was because it made Grace almost the same age as my mum when she first met my dad. My late mum was great for information as was one of my late aunts. Other forms of research have come from Facebook groups and my own personal Facebook page. Readers love to be involved and are always ready to answer my questions. Google of course is a great help. We are very lucky as writers these days with research at the punch of a key. Not forgetting books, which are a great resource too. A writer needs to read.

Had you always planned to choose the indie route for publication?

Not at all. To be honest I hadn’t thought about a publication of a novel at all. I finished House of Grace in 2014 and then it sat on my computer while I studied for an MA in Creative Writing with Brighton University. It was only when I went to Swanwick Writers’ Summer School: https://www.swanwickwritersschool.org.uk/ for the first time in 2016, that I became inspired by so many authors. One of the features about Swanwick is that they have a book room where all authors may sell their books. I made a pact that my book would be in that room in 2017. And it was. I came home and found out about formatting, book covers, etc. I already had an editor. A lot of the Swanwick writers have read and loved House of Grace and are eagerly waiting for The Coal Miner’s Son.

What are you working on at present?

I have a few projects on the go, I always do, but I have finished The Coal Miner’s Son and I’m deciding which route to go down for publishing. This is the second book in the House of Grace trilogy but all my books act independently and may be read as standalones. I’m working on the third instalment, which presently is untitled but uses Grace and George as narrators.

One of my other projects is another novel set in the sixties and the work in progress title is ‘Secrets’. This story is about family again and in particular two sisters. I am also working on a couple of poetry collections, one on myth around trees. I try to write at least one independent poem a month too. Various poems and short stories of mine have been published in anthologies and magazines.

Can you let us see the first 500 hundred words of The Coal Miner’s Son?

Here’s the opening 500 hundred words of ‘The Coal Miner’s Son’ – Part I, Chapter 1.

George

Shuffling feet, giggles and chatter filled the school corridor. Ben pushed me into the cluttered coats making me land on my bum. Luckily for me Miss Jones wasn’t around yet. We raced to the back of the classroom to find our seats. I won cos my legs were longer. Mam said I was like a stick. Eight of us sat round two tables squashed together as boy-girl-boy-girl. I shifted away from Susie Smith, my neighbour, a small girl with ginger frizzy hair and blotchy skin. Ben sat opposite her. Miss Jones strode into the room clapping her hands. Forty chairs scraped across the floor as everyone stood to attention and our rickety seats squeaked like mice as we sat down.
Miss Jones wrote 11th June 1962 on the blackboard. ‘Open your exercise books and practise the “Seven Times Table” in your heads. I shall test you after break.’
Paper rustled as pages turned. I got to four times seven when I heard the usual trickling. I bent down and found pee running close to my feet. Not again. I looked up towards Ben and rolled my eyes. He sniggered. I put up my hand.
‘What is it, George?’ Miss Jones said.
I signalled to Susie.
‘Oh dear. Would you mind fetching the mop, George? Susan, you go too and find Nurse.’
I dragged my chair back and the whole class turned to watch as I strode out of the room with Smelly Susie wriggling behind me. Why hadn’t she put up her hand to ask to go? No wonder no one wanted to play with her.
Humping the mop and bucket round to my table, I soaked up the puddle. The stink made me want to spew like when Mam asked me to put Beth’s smelly nappy in the bucket.
Miss Jones patted me on the shoulder. ‘Thank you, George.’
I turned around and looked up into her light blue eyes. My heart banged like a drum. One day I was going to marry Miss Jones.
On my way back to the classroom the bell rang so I ran to catch up with Ben, he was already nearly out of the door. We whispered and giggled.
‘George, can you wait behind please?’ asked Miss Jones.
She must’ve heard us laughing at Smelly Susie. Now Mam would find out, she’d tell Da and it’d be the slipper for me. But it wasn’t fair, why didn’t Ben have to stay behind too?
‘Sit down, George.’ Miss Jones pointed to the wooden chair next to her desk and crossed her long legs. She looked like Marilyn Monroe with her blonde wavy hair. Da was always saying Marilyn Monroe was the most beautiful woman in the world, next to Mam and our Alice, so Ben showed me a picture of her in a magazine.
‘I also wanted to thank you for clearing up after Susan every day. You’re a good boy, George Gilmore. I can’t understand why Mr Mason complains about you.’

            Chapter continues

About Patricia M Osborne

Patricia M Osborne is in her early sixties, married with grown-up children and five grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool, spent time in Bolton as a child, and now lives in West Sussex. In September 2018, Patricia finished an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Brighton and graduated with a Merit. She is a novelist, poet and short fiction writer. Her poems and short stories have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. Her debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, set in the 1950s/60s, was released in March 2017.

Where can you find Patricia?

Patriciamosbornewriter.wordpress.com

patricia.m.osbornewriter@gmail.com

Facebook: Patricia M Osborne, Writer

Twitter: PMOsborneWriter

Where can you buy a copy of House of Grace?

http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace in paperback and Kindle form. Free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

House of Grace in paperback may be ordered from all good bookstores and libraries by quoting: ISBN 9780995710702.

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