Friday 3 March 2017

A Conversation with Patsy Collins

Patsy Collins lives on the south coast of England with her husband; photographer Gary Davies. She's the author of four novels and is working on a fifth.

Patsy's short stories (500+ published to date) have appeared in a range of UK, Irish, South African, Canadian, Swedish and Australian publications. Some of her stories are available to download from Alfie Dog Fiction.

When she's not writing, Patsy travels with her husband in their campervan acting as his photographic assistant, and eats cakes. She sometimes gives talks to writing groups.

Patsy's latest book is not a novel but is about writing. Patsy, together with Rosemary J Kind, editor at Alfie Dog Fiction, have combined their experience to publish a book of writing advice for those looking to write and publish short stories.

From Story Idea to Reader is an easily accessible guide to writing fiction. Whether you are brushing up on your writing skills or starting out, this book will take you through the whole process from inspiration to conclusion. No matter if you are looking to submit your work for publication, enter a competition, or want to self-publish, this practical guide will help you every step of the way.

We'd like to thank Patsy, for taking part in A Conversation With... and wish her much luck with her writing in the future.

Tell us of your journey as a writer

Although I've always loved stories, both reading them and making them up, it wasn't until around 15 years ago that I started writing any. To start with I only intended it as a bit of fun, but the tutor of my creative writing classes had other ideas and encouraged me to submit my work. After winning cake and book tokens for a 40 word story, I was hooked!

Since then I've had hundreds of short stories published, many of them in magazines. I've won more competitions, including a novel writing one, written articles for Writing Magazine, self published four novels and co-written From Story Idea to Reader - an accessible guide to writing fiction.

How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

With my fiction, the aim is to entertain people. I write mainly light-hearted short stories and romantic novels. If one of my stories makes a reader smile, then it has done its job. The biggest compliment people can pay me is to say my writing has cheered them up.

When it comes to non-fiction, I want to encourage people to try writing and have fun as they do. I don't feel there's just one right way to write, or that everyone should have the same goals, but we should all enjoy what we're doing.

There are so many things I like about writing! A big one is the control I have. Reality can be grim and scary and frequently doesn't seem fair or to make sense. In fiction it needn't be like that. There has to be a certain amount of conflict of course, and there will be obstacles to overcome but, if I wish, my characters can resolve the conflict, leap over or dodge round the obstacles and live happily ever after.

Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

Quite often a story idea is the result of someone irritating me. I put them in a story to sort them out. Unlike real people, characters can't just be randomly annoying – they need a reason for their actions. Looking for their motivation frequently does make me empathise with them. The characters, I mean. The real people don't get fully forgiven until after I've sold the story.

What has been your experience of writing about diverse characters?

If I only wrote about people with my exact background and experiences I wouldn't have many stories to tell, so I don't restrict myself in that way. I firmly believe that most of us have far more in common with each other than we have differences. I write about those similarities, sometimes known as universal truths.

My characters have included small children, old men, teenage girls, aliens, people living in the past or the future. Most have lifestyles, beliefs and difficulties which I don't share. They all have emotions which I know well.

If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

Don't hate me, but I don't have to fantasise about this. I'm very fortunate that I make my living travelling about in a campervan, with my photographer husband, just making stuff up. If I want to write overlooking a beach, mountain or forest then I do.

What is the one book you wish you had written?
My next one!

There are loads of writers, past and present, whom I admire. I wouldn't mind their sales figures, but I don't want to write their books – I want to write my own.

What advice do you have for would be novelists/writers?
Write stuff.

That may sound flippant, but I mean it as serious advice. If you want to be a writer, all you have to do is write and that's exactly what you are. If you have hopes beyond that, of winning prizes or publication perhaps, then the single most important step you can take is to start writing. You can't improve, edit or submit anything until you get that first draft written.

What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

It's a romance about a woman travelling around in a campervan with a photographer. I promise it isn't autobiographical.

Who is your favourite literary character from childhood and why?

Hard to choose, but possibly Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden. I liked that she changed so much and went from being a brat to someone who helped others and became happier herself as a result. As a child I had a lot of freedom and my grandparents' gardens to explore, so perhaps I identified with her in that way.

From Story Idea to Reader is published by Alfie Dog

Follow Patsy on Twitter: @PatsyCollins


Patsy said...

Thanks for inviting me onto the blog to chat!

Greenacre Writers said...

It was our pleasure, Patsy. Good to support a fellow writer.