Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. In 2019 she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing. She is a published novelist, poet and short fiction writer with six poetry pamphlets published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, and numerous poems and short stories appearing in various literary magazines and anthologies. Her debut poetry pamphlet, Taxus Baccata, was nominated for the Michael Marks Pamphlet Award.
Time to chat with Patricia!
I just finished reading your newest book, The Oath, and I absolutely loved it. I see that your House of Grace series begins in 1950s. What are the similarities and differences in writing characters from different times in history?
Thank you for reading The Oath, Lisette. It’s wonderful to hear that you loved it. I certainly loved writing it and I’m now missing my characters.
There are a couple of similarities in The Oath and House of Grace trilogy. The first is friendship and in particular bringing women of opposite classes together. In House of Grace, Grace’s best friend Katy is the daughter of a former coal miner, now a man-made millionaire, whereas Grace is the daughter of a lord. In The Oath, Françoise befriends her lady’s maid Tilly. Both books were set in the past therefore needed a lot of research.
Are you considering a sequel to The Oath? (I hope so!)
A sequel to The Oath is hopefully on the cards and indeed in the planning stage. Like I mentioned above, I’m missing my characters and the best way to resolve that is to write another book about them. However, I’ve had to put this aside for now as an idea for a new novel suddenly took hold.
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
The biggest challenge for me in writing a series is remembering everything about my characters in the previous books. House of Grace trilogy taught me to make sure I keep a record about my characters, right from their date of birth, colour of their hair, eyes etc and what they like doing.
What else have you written?
I have another trilogy written although not yet published. It’s an adoption story set in the 1970s. The twists and turns keep the reader guessing right until the end of the series although all three books work as standalones. However, as in House of Grace trilogy the reader will get more from the books if they read them in order.
As well as novels I’m also a poet and have had numerous poems published online, in magazines, and anthologies. I’ve also had six poetry pamphlets published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Four of which resulted from winning competitions with this poetry press.
Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?
I mainly write scenes in order but I have been known to go out of sequence if a later scene springs into my head. Only today an ending for a new novel I’ve started popped up so I had to get that down on paper. This novel is a completely different genre as it’s about time travel. Early days at the moment so I’m hoping I can carry it through.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?
I do like to know a title when working on a book although more often than not it changes. For instance, House of Grace began as Grace, The Coal Miner’s Son, Heir of Granville, and The Oath, Sunbury House.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I’m afraid I’m one of those writers who has to edit as I write. However that doesn’t mean it’s all done as the second draft is still always the time for me to layer and edit after it comes back from my editor.
Authors, especially Indies, are constantly trying to understand why some authors sell very while their talented fellow authors have a hard time of it. It’s an ongoing conundrum. What do you make of it all?
I’m not naive enough to think that my book will sell without any input from me. An author needs to network, and do marketing, and when I say this I don’t mean I go on Twitter and just tweet about my book. Instead, I interact, get to know the other writers on there, and support them. By doing this I not only build up friendships but those friends also help me. It’s all about looking after each other.
Apart from networking and marketing, an indie author needs to advertise. I tend to get on better with Facebook ads rather than Amazon. However, an author needs to be careful not to end up spending what they can’t afford. I budget at £5 a day and watch the ad. If it gets to the point where the ad is costing me more money than bringing in then I switch it off and try a different tactic.
If the book is getting clicks and still not selling then the author needs to ask why. Is it because the cover doesn’t jump out? Is the blurb not working? Does the book sample contain errors? I always believe that as indie authors our books have to be just as good as a traditional publisher produces, if not better.
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
It was only after attending Swanwick Writers’ Summer School (UK) in 2016 that I even thought about publication. Until then my manuscript had been buried in my computer archives. I was so impressed by the books in the book room at Swanwick, published by other delegates, that I was determined to return the following year with mine up for sale too. Prior to this I hadn’t even heard about self publishing, and I was also ignorant about traditional publishing, agents etc.
(Gardens at Swanwick) (above)
On returning home I dug out House of Grace and began re-working the manuscript and added another 10,000 words. My editor, also a close friend, has always believed in me, and stuck with me through the whole process. Once my manuscript was ready I sought out a professional designer for the cover and formatting.
(Wakehurst Place, Sussex, UK. Inspiration for Granville Hall in House of Grace trilogy. This is how I pictured Granville Hall. I used to visit Wakehurst regularly to see inside the house as well as its massive grounds)
The graphic designer I used came recommended from Swanwick Writers. He not only completed the cover and formatting but uploaded the file to Amazon. Because he had uploaded the file to what was then CreateSpace I was still rather ignorant of the process. However, I did insist on using my own ISBN number and imprint and White Wings Books was born.
After publishing House of Grace I made it my job to learn more about publishing and joined networks such as Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), Mark Dawson’s online self-publishing course, and Facebook groups. I soon learned loads of information including how to upload to Ingram Spark so readers could order my book via bookstores, and also get my book in libraries.
(Celebrating the launch of my debut novel in 2017)
As time went on I learned about agents, pitch letters, and traditional publishing, but there was no point trying these when I was writing a trilogy, and the first book already self published. Therefore when it came to The Oath I tried a few agents, nothing like what is recommended, but because of my age I felt I didn’t have time to hang around trying, so published again under White Wings Books.
Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?
I am a fast typist and that definitely means I can get more words down in a shorter time. Most of my employment days were spent as a secretary typing on a typewriter. It’s so much easier now with a computer as I don’t have to worry about getting a ruler and rubber to correct a mistake. Instead, I’m able to back space, and no worries about changing the ribbon either. I hated that job.
Do you dread writing a blurb or synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?
Absolutely. I dread the blurb and synopsis, but in particularly the blurb. I find it difficult because I’m nervous about giving away too much information.
Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?
I’m definitely a night owl. The mornings I use for chores in the house, marketing, critique for others, leaving hopefully late afternoon and early evening for me to write. Four o’clock is normally the time my muse kicks in.
When writing I don’t drink anything other than water. The time I’m more prone to snack is when I’m not engrossed in my writing.
Would you like to write a short poem for us?
Here’s a short poem from my poetry collection, Spirit Mother: Experience the Myth, published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press (2022)
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I live in the south east of UK. If I could move anywhere it would be about twenty miles or so from where I am now to somewhere down on the coast. I’d like to be able to see, hear and smell the waves. When I visit the sea I always feel like I’ve come home. However, I’d also like to be close to a main line train station as I am now, with direct routes to London.
(On the Sussex coast UK – Happiest when I’m by the sea.)
What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?
On my second wedding my late sister was supposed to be driving us to the register office. When I walked out of the front door I discovered a blue limousine and chauffeur in uniform standing next to it. My sister said, ‘You didn’t really think I’d let you go to get married in my old car, did you?’ It was a lovely surprise.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
My iPad air and a Logitech keyboard for my 60th birthday. I love it and simply couldn’t be without it. Mind you, I could do with an updated version now.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
Has to be loyalty. I’m very lucky in the fact that I have plenty of loyal friends.
What music soothes your soul?
I love all music but Classic Fm is what I listen to when writing. But I never tire of hearing Tamla Motown, Reggae, Blues, Country, and Rock.
(I love to dress up. As a punk rocker many years ago at a holiday camp)
What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?
Not sure I have a favourite film but favourite book is Little Women which I read as a child and which influenced me in writing about family.
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