Welcome back to Alchemy for Authors!
In this episode I talk with author, Pat Backley, about finding your passion and writing books later in life.
Other topics we discuss include:
- Why it’s never too late to start writing!
- How the end of a marriage and a COVID lockdown was the catalyst for her pursuing her author dreams.
- How writing a book, no matter your age, can be life changing!
- Why Pat chose to self-publish and how she went about learning “all the things” to do so.
- Why writing memoir is so important for preserving your stories.
- How an attractive Italian man inspired Pat to write a travel memoir.
- Why Pat hates the phrase: “Not high enough res!”
Pat’s enthusiasm for writing will leave you pushing aside your excuses, and being inspired and excited to get back to the page!
Visit Pat’s website here: https://www.patbackley.com/
Purchase Pat’s books here: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Pat-Backley/author/B08KZ9SRPC
Follow Pat on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/patbackleyauthor/
Follow Pat on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/patbackleyauthor
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Find the full transcript of this episode below.
Episode 67: Write Now with Pat Backley
Jo: Hello, my friends. Welcome to Episode 67 of Alchemy for Authors. I am recording this on the 18th of November, 2023.
It has been a few crazy weeks for me, as it normally is, but I am celebrating being so incredibly close to meeting a book deadline with my editor. I’m just finishing up some final edits on a gothic suspense novel, the sequel to Unspoken Truths. This one’s going to be called Broken Lies, and I have had so much fun writing it. But it has been a lot more rushed than I would have preferred. So I’m feeling a little bit nervous about the fact that my edits are not quite to the standard that I prefer before I send them to my editor. So I’m going to be interested to see what she makes of the story as a whole. And I suspect this might be one that I have to do a whole lot of reworking with when I get it back from her. But all the same, it feels pretty darn good to have finished writing another draft of a novel. So yay!
This week, I have an amazing guest, Pat Backley. I just enjoyed chatting with her so much. She is one of the most passionate people that I think I’ve come across in regards to writing. And get this, she just squeaked in publishing her first book right before she turned 70. So this is a really good one if you, or anybody you know, has been using that excuse of I’m too old, or any excuse, really. Anything that could be holding you back from writing your story, this is a great episode to listen to.
Some of the things that we discuss on this episode include:
- Why it is never too late to start writing.
- How the end of a marriage and COVID lockdown was the catalyst for Pat pursuing her author dreams.
- How writing a book, no matter your age, can be absolutely life changing.
- Why Pat chose to self-publish and how she went about learning “all the things”.
- Why writing memoir is so important for preserving your stories.
- How an attractive Italian man inspired her to write a travel memoir.
- How writing can be cathartic and healing, but can also sometimes keep the pain alive.
- And why Pat hates the phrase, “Not high enough res”.
So if this sounds like an intriguing episode for you, then I recommend you go grab yourself a drink, find a comfy chair, sit back and enjoy the show.
Hello, my lovelies. Welcome back to another episode of Alchemy for Authors. Today I’m chatting with the lovely Pat Backley. Pat is an author born in England and now happily settled in Auckland, New Zealand. Passionate about people and travel, she’s lived a colourful and interesting life and her books reflect these passions.
She published her first book just before her 70th birthday. And in the two years since then, she has written and published another six titles. She now intends to write till she dies. So welcome to the show, Pat. It is so wonderful to have you join me today.
Pat: Thank you so much for inviting me, Jo. I’m delighted to be here.
Jo: Well, I would love if we could start with you sharing a little bit of your background as to how you became such a prolific author in a short time, but why it took you so long to get there.
Pat: Okay, well, I have to apologize at the beginning to say that I diversify dreadfully. So if I start going off track in my answers, just pull me back in, I won’t be in the least offended.
Basically, I, like most people, I’ve had a life that’s full of ups and downs and just never had the time to be a writer. I’ve always been an avid reader since I was a very little girl and obviously like all kids, I had dreams of being a famous author and stuff like that, but never, ever pursued it. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to university or anything. My family were quite poor. So I just went straight to work at 16 in the Bank and worked there for 10 years. And I went abroad and lots of different things. But I’ve had two marriages, two divorces. But never had the time to stop and really do something for myself.
Anyway, when I was 67, my husband of 27 years suddenly announced he didn’t love me anymore, hadn’t done for years, the marriage was over, and he wasn’t coming back to live in New Zealand, where we had emigrated eight years previously. So that kind of put me in a bit of a sticky situation. As you can imagine, age 67, to suddenly find all your hopes and dreams for the future are gone is quite tricky.
And then about eight or nine months later, COVID hit, so I suddenly found myself completely alone, obviously pretty miserable. I spent the first three weeks of COVID lying on the sofa, watching rubbish on Netflix and eating too much chocolate. And then one day I thought, Pat, this is ridiculous. Get a grip. This COVID thing might go on for a few weeks. You remember how naive we were at the time? So I thought, just do something practical. Why don’t you write a book? So I just got lots of bits of paper, started writing, writing, writing. I stayed up day and night for two weeks, barely slept. And my first book, Daisy, was born.
And it’s a historical fiction, so it involved lots of, lots of research and stuff. And I realized that I loved research, which was quite ironic, because at school I hated research, but of course nowadays it’s so much easier with the internet and everything. And I finished Daisy and I thought, oh, I quite like this writing. I might have to do something else.
So I, anyway, I learned about self-publishing, how to do that, and got a nice little team behind me of editors and people and just did it. And then. That’s it. I’m just, I often say when I’m doing talks, I often say it’s like someone’s taken the top of my head off, and 70 years worth of words are just flying out, because I just find writing so easy. You know, if someone phones me and says, Oh, could you write an article or a short story for… next Tuesday, I just sit down and write it. You know, I just, I’m very blessed. I think I’ve just, it’s always been there, obviously, but until recently it’s never had the chance to come out. So it’s wonderful. I love my new career much better than any of the other careers I’ve ever had. Much more fun.
Jo: I love that. And I just find it so fascinating for a few reasons. I have had a lot of authors come on the show from various countries where 2020 and the pandemic was such a catalyst for them to kind of go after that thing that had been like a lifelong dream for them. So I find that just so fascinating, the positives, in a way, that came out of that for a lot of us. But I also am just so stunned that you sat down and wrote a book in two weeks, like, oh my gosh, for me, it takes forever to write a book, but there is so much imposter syndrome and things like that. Did you have that at all? Or was it just this like inspiration that came and it was just flowing?
Pat: I think it was just such a release to actually have a passionate thing to do after being so distraught. My only child was living in London, you know, I’d been abandoned. It was, it was a tough time emotionally. So to actually turn my energy to something productive, I think was just so wonderful. I didn’t even have time to think about, was it a good idea? Was anyone going to want to read it? I just wrote it.
And then, obviously afterwards tidied it up, but I say I wrote it. I’m not actually sure I did because obviously I started, but then as you know characters take on their own lifestyle and they don’t do what you tell them to do and they go off in all these different directions. So, the book didn’t end up the book I’d expected it to be, which is why I then had to write a sequel, just to kind of pull all the threads together. But I think that’s the wonderful thing about being an author, you don’t know what you’re going to end up with most of the time. You just start and then it just comes.
Jo: Yeah. Oh, I just, I love that. I can completely relate to that, where the stories just take over and don’t go in the direction that you’re expecting them to go. That happens a lot for me. That’s, yeah, a part of the writing process that I absolutely love. So it took you then these two very intense weeks of writing your first novel, Daisy. At what point did it cross your mind to publish it? Was that right from the beginning, as soon as you started writing, or did that come later?
Pat: No, not at all. It was probably, I wrote it and then I probably had a week of kind of tidying it up. I tend to be, I don’t follow any of the writing rules. I edit as I go along. I, yeah, I don’t do anything how you’re supposed to do it. But I finished it, I edited it, and then I thought, oh, this is actually quite, quite good. And I, you know, I’m sorry to be saying that. I had no one else there to say it was rubbish, so I thought it’s quite good. But I’m too old to hang around waiting to find a publisher waiting to get noticed. And anyway, I’m a bit of a control freak, so I wouldn’t want to be told that, that what I’d done wasn’t good enough or wasn’t right.
So I then researched, because the other thing about COVID, we had so much time to do all this stuff. So I then researched self-publishing and realized it was an absolute minefield. And that I personally, not being particularly computer savvy, I was going to find it quite tricky to do some of the bits. So I did more research and came across this company called the Self-Publishing School in the States, like an online school. And I checked all the reviews, and then I thought, yeah, yeah, they might be able to help, so I signed up. Best thing I could have done, because it’s run by very enthusiastic young American guys who are passionate.
And I love people who are passionate. I don’t care what they’re passionate about. As long as they’ve got some passion. So they were great and they’ve set up this program where you learn in at your own time in stages. And it teaches you kind of everything from obviously how to write, which I didn’t need, but how to get published. So I studied it, skipped over the bits I found boring. That’s another bad trait of mine. And then realized that although I could do some of it, I actually would struggle to do a lot of it myself. So then I found a very lovely editor in the States, a young woman who’s been with me through all my books, a formatting company, a cover designer, although I draw my own covers, and then just send them off for them to make them smart.
And then, yeah, and so I’ve got a whole team that I’ve used every time that helps me through it, because I know a lot of self-publishing authors do it all themselves, but I’m kind of, I know my own limitations, you know? And so for me to get help like that is, is great. So yeah, so I did it and then I thought, oh, this is fun. I’ll do it again. Which is why I’ve done so many so quickly.
Jo: I am just absolutely loving your passion and just your ability to just push those fears aside and just do it and just go with it. I think that’s amazing. And I completely relate to being that little bit of a control freak and just wanting to, you know, once you’ve written the book, getting it out there in the world. So that was why self-publishing was always top on my mind too. I never considered being traditionally published because I just want my book out there and yeah. So I totally, totally understand that. And that is so wonderful too, that you found the Self Publishing School and ways to kind of learn some of this. And then you built up that team and that. I don’t know if your experience is the same, but I find in the indie self-publishing kind of arena, everybody is so supportive.
Pat: Oh, very. Yes. Yeah. Very.
Jo: Yeah. Which is so great. And so you went from writing your first novel, Daisy, to learning about self-publishing, getting it published and everything. And it was released in 2020 as well. Is that right?
Pat: Yeah. It went off to the editor in June and then it was released in October. So pretty quick. Yeah.
Jo: That’s amazing. That’s so cool. And so while you’re doing all that, were you also working on your next novel or was there a bit of a delay?
Pat: No, not really. I think I was just taking a slightly backward step because I thought, Oh, well, you know, you’re not a spring chicken. You’ve got to make sure you really know what you’re doing here. So I just took a slight step back, but only for about five minutes. Then I started writing my memoirs, which is something I’d always quite wanted to do because I do feel very strongly, Jo, that when we die, our stories die with us. Nobody knows our life stories like we do. So I’ve become a bit of a missionary saying to people, Please write down your life stories. You know? Virtually everyone I meet, I say, please write down your life stories. Even if you just do bullet points, because when you die, that’s it. And because of that, once I’ve done my own memoirs and done The Second Daisy, which is called The Second Daisy, that’s not very original, Pat, but I said, no, but it is what it says on the packet. The Second Daisy. So once I’d done that, I just thought actually I love writing historical fiction. And obviously the Daisies were both purely historical, purely fiction. I thought, why don’t I write about my own ancestors in a historical fiction way?
So I started my Ancestors Series and the first one is my grandfather. And actually this is his, I don’t know if you can see, this is actually his silhouette on the front cover, because when I got the cover designers they did the background beautifully, which I wanted, but they couldn’t get the man in 1930s outfits to my liking. So I said, can I send you a photograph of my granddad? So I did and they put his silhouette on there. And then when I got the book, the proof, they’d actually put his silhouette at the front of every chapter as well. And I just… because it was like having him come back and he died when I was 17. So that, that’s his story, but woven into fiction. And then the second one in the series is Llewyn Eustace. Which is my other set of grandparents, and that’s actually their photograph on their engagement ring, 1913. So that’s very special.
So having got on that, I’m now doing a whole Ancestors Series. And at the moment, I’m currently working on one about my parents’ lives which I’m finding very traumatic. I mean, they’re both long dead. I’m finding it very traumatic because it’s one thing to know them as your mum and dad, but to actually do the research and find out about them as human beings and the lives they had before, and yes, I’m crying virtually every day as I write it. So it’s taken me a bit longer. It’s my longest book to date that I’m writing. But it will be out early next year. So yeah, and that’s great because I can weave in their stories with historical fiction. So it kind of satisfies the two things.
Jo: Aw, that is so lovely. I love that passion for people’s stories and your encouragement for us to share our own stories too, because yeah, I do believe that that’s really what life is. It’s a series of stories. It’s the stories that we live, the stories we believe, the stories we tell ourselves and the stories others tell about us as well. So yeah, I love that.
And so you have jumped around with your genres a little bit then because you have. Yeah. Yeah. So you’ve done the fiction in various forms, historical fiction and like, Daisy’s more of a family saga and yeah, but then you’ve also done nonfiction, not just with your memoir, but also talking about your experience with your separation from your husband as well. Are you able to talk a little bit about that?
Pat: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So basically, and I have done another nonfiction, which is my Seventy Years Worth of Travel: A Super Colourful and Interesting Life, because I suddenly, I was watching a, I was at a conference, a writer’s conference, and there was this very attractive young Italian travel writer. A man. And I was just mesmerized watching him. I have no idea what he was talking about. Very handsome. And I was watching him. And then I suddenly thought, you could write a travel memoir. You’ve done some great travel. So I did. So I wrote that little book. But then this book, this, this book here, which is one I never hoped or intended to write. I was in the middle of writing another one last year, and I woke up at three in the morning, and I thought, Pat, you need to write The Abandoned Wives Handbook. Because I was abandoned five years ago, it takes a very long time to get over abandonment. You get over it, but you don’t really get over it, if that makes sense?
And I just woke up and I thought, you’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do this. And I fought it for a while because I really didn’t want to relive the whole awful time. And then I thought, actually, why don’t you make it a little bit light hearted? So I’ve made it a very, you probably can’t tell on the screen, but it’s small. It’s much smaller than the average book. Purposely so it can fit in people’s handbags. And it’s called The Abandoned Wives Handbook: A Gentle Guide to One of Life’s Great Traumas. And I’ve made it so it’s like, almost like a little dictionary of just little snippets so people can just dip into it. I didn’t want it to be a very heavy self-help book. Because you’re going through these sorts of traumas, the last thing you want is to be lectured at. And a lot of those self-help books, although they’re great, they’re kind of expecting you to digest so much information and really when you’re in that emotional state, you can’t, or I couldn’t, you know, I just didn’t want people’s advice, really. That’s the bottom line, I think. It’s just something you have to live through.
Anyway, ironically, I wrote it, published it in March, I think, this year. And it’s now my bestseller on Amazon, which is great. Crazy. It’s obviously appealing to so many people and I’m getting some great reviews. Not just from women who’ve been abandoned, from widows. I even had one from a guy in the States that said, I think all men who date should read this little book to give them some idea of the effect their actions have on the women they’re dating.
Jo: Wow. That’s amazing.
Pat: Yeah. Who would have known? So now I’m thrilled I wrote it because if it’s helped just one person, that’s great. But it’s just so funny that, you know, that little tiny book is, but I guess because I’ve lived it, I know what it’s like. You know? I’m not professing to be an expert, just someone who’s lived through it and survived.
Jo: Yeah. I find that so there’s so much there with writing that book and things like that like it takes a lot of courage to do that. And like you said, it wasn’t necessarily an easy book to write. Did you find it healing, in a sense?
Pat: Yeah, initially I did. When I did it, I wrote it, I started it at the end of November, and I was going to stay with some friends for Christmas. And I took it with me and I sat, I was sitting up in bed trying to finish it because I wanted the girl to proofread it for me because that’s what she does. And I just burst into tears, as I did virtually all the time writing it as my friend and her daughter happened to be walking along the corridor past the bottom of my room. And they both came running up the stairs. What’s wrong? What’s wrong? I said, and they both go to bed and hugged me and everything. And once I’d done it and sent it off to the formatter, I felt good. I felt really good when I got it back. I felt really good, but now sometimes I dip into it. I’m probably prompted by reviews where people have been quite raw, and I dip into it and I think, Oh, I did go through that. It’s a very strange thing. So yes, cathartic in some ways, but it kind of keeps it, keeps it there alive.
Jo: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I can imagine that would be really, really tough. Do you think though, this is a bit of a, I apologize for going a bit deep here, do you think that had you not separated from your husband, had that not happened, that you would have written any of your books? Do you think this would have still… you would still be here?
Pat: No. If he hadn’t left me, and if COVID hadn’t happened, I doubt I would ever have got round to it. Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? It’s actually getting round to it. So many people want to write a book, but life takes over. So, no, I feel very grateful that those things aligned. Because if it had just been COVID, I possibly wouldn’t have done it then either. I’d have just, you know… wasted my time sorting out cupboards and things. So no, I think, no, I think the two things just aligned to make it, it was obviously just meant to be. At this great age in my life, I suddenly start writing books and having fun doing it. And having fun with all the offshoots, like going to book fairs, meeting people, meeting all the fabulous other authors. Yeah, it’s changed my life.
And I’ve also, I’ve also co-authored a few books now. Yeah. The first one I did was, that’s really interesting, that was a lady I met through the Self Publishing School. And she just phoned me, she emailed me one day and said, I’m writing a book. I wonder if you, if you would be interested in taking part in an anthology. She said, it’s called The Warrior Women Project: A Sisterhood of Immigration. And I said, oh, Dr. Lulu, that’s very kind of you, but I really don’t know if I qualify. Oh, you absolutely do, she said. I’ve researched you. You immigrated to New Zealand when you were 57. She said, you know, you’re in a different country, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so I agreed.
Anyway, it turned out this book had 21 women in it, all of whom were very high-powered physicians, which is how they all kind of knew each other. They were almost all black, very beautiful young black women, or Chinese or Indian, and me. Oh, one lady from Romania, I think. And so we started, we started the process in January. She said she wanted the book published in March, in May, and we all said, that’s not possible, this beautiful hardcover book with photographs and what not. Anyway, so it happened, and of course, when you try and pull so many women together with strong women with big ideas, it is tricky. And we got to March and the editor, we’d all been asked to send photographs to use in the book. And so of course we’d all chose now the photos where we look most fabulous, where we’re in these exotic settings, you know? And the editor threw them all back. He said, they’re not good enough, they’re not high enough res. That has become one of my most hated buzzwords, Jo. Not high enough res.
Anyway, so the outcome was that they said, we’d all have to go and have professional photo shoots. And I said… actually, we had lots of Zoom calls. And I said, actually, girls, if you don’t mind, I’m going to pull out of the project. I’d already written my bit. I said, because you’re all, I mean, I’m old enough to be their mother. In fact, they call me the Queen Mother. I’m old enough to be their mother. Some of them their grandmother. And they’re all beautiful and articulate and, you know, very well educated and I’m kind of none of those things. And so I said, look, I’m going to pull out because I hate having my photograph taken. And they all just burst out laughing, all these fabulous women on the screen. And they, and two of them said, no, don’t be ridiculous. All you do is you go and slap on some red lipstick and some high heels and you’ll be fine. So very reluctantly, not wanting to let them down. I booked a photo shoot, blah, blah. Went off. Three hours later, I’m posing like a supermodel. And I’ll always be grateful for that because it got me out of my comfort zone. And it produced like a beautiful hardback book. With just beautiful photographs of all these fabulous women in that have now become my friends. We are truly a sisterhood. You know, we keep in touch all the time. In fact, next month, I’m flying to Melbourne to meet one of them. She’s coming up to talk at a conference. So. Yeah, being a writer has opened up so many avenues, it’s just… it’s like a fairy tale really. You know, when I think of my life three years ago compared to now, it’s just so different.
Jo: I just love seeing how, yeah, how passionate you are about this. About the writing and the publishing and the entire world that that brings. It’s just so wonderful to see, I love that. What part then do you think has been the most, other than having to have your photo taken, has been the most challenging during this time of pursuing your dream of writing?
Pat: I think if I’m honest, letting people read my work, because I don’t let any, again, I go against all the rules. I don’t let anybody read my books except my editor, until they’re published. When I was writing the first one, my daughter said, Oh, mom, can you send me a copy? I said, No. I’ll send you a copy when it’s published. And so I don’t let anybody read it. I mean, I have great trust in my editor, and we work really well together. And she doesn’t really change much but apparently I’m very bad at colons and semi colons. But basically the actual books stay as I write them. So I would say that’s probably my worst thing is because I’ve had no feedback apart from Colleen, once I put it out there, it’s kind of an ouch moment thinking, Oh, well, are people going to say this is absolute garbage? This is rubbish. And I go through that obviously every time every book. But luckily, they don’t seem to think that, or they’re very polite. So, so, yeah, no, apart from that, I don’t really think there’s anything, because I just love what I’m doing, and I think because it’s such an unexpected thing, I’m enjoying it all the more.
Jo: Oh, good. That’s wonderful. So even though, and I can relate to that too, that kind of anxiety around people reading your work, even though you want it out there in the world and you want people to read it, at the same time, you’re like, please don’t read it. How do you go about marketing your books then? How do you… because at the end of the day, we do still want people to read out our work. So what does that look like for you?
Pat: Absolutely. That, I have to say, Jo, is the hardest bit. Much harder than writing a book. Writing a book is a doddle, but then you’ve got to, as you say, get it out there. I’m just, I think I’m still just learning through trial and error. You know, obviously, I’ve had launches for my books, just private launches where I invite people. And they’re all very kind, and they buy a copy, and that’s all very, and I sign it, that’s all very lovely. I promote on social media, like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter, which is now X. Which is, Twitter incidentally is my best avenue. I’ve got something, well over 2,000 people on that in, in like 10 months, whereas the others I struggle with hundreds, so that’s what it’s doing. I just, I post about my books, but I try to intermingle it with lots of other interesting bits because I know how irritated I get when someone just puts, this is my book, buy me. So I never put links to my books. I just put the book and think, oh, if someone’s really interested, then look it up. Because you know, all you’ve got to my name and masses of stuff comes up. So, I try, it’s not in my nature to be very pushy, but I realized that to sell books, I have got to do a little bit, make a little bit of effort.
So I do go to book fairs. Like last Sunday, I went to the local artisan’s market, set up my tables and had a lovely, lovely morning. I wasn’t expecting to sell any books because often you don’t, or you might sell one or two of those things. But I sold a lot and met some really fabulous people. And of course I could talk to them about my writing. And quiz them a bit and learn about the books they wanted to write. Because often people come up and talk to you because they want to write a book. So they just kind of want to talk to someone who’s done it. So yeah, I guess just putting myself out there and I do talks. I’m like, I’m flying down to Christchurch next month to do a repeat talk at the Aotearoa Multicultural Women’s Association. I went there last year, and they’ve invited me back. And that was very moving because a lot of those ladies, I later discovered, had lost their husbands in the Christchurch shooting. So I’m going back down there and doing a Rotary chat as well. And I’m basically willing to go anywhere and talk, because as you’ve probably gathered, I quite like talking about books.
So I just love, I just love, I’ve always loved meeting new people. So now I’ve got a legitimate excuse to kind of say, Hey, do you want to meet me? You know, do you want to interview me? Do you want me to come and talk about my books? And it’s just, yeah, I never expected it. I mean, I’m 72 now. I never expected to have this kind of wonderful bit in my life.
Jo: It’s so wonderful. So wonderful. I’m wondering then, because I’ve talked to quite a few people, uh, my father included, who’s an incredibly creative person and really got me excited about creative writing and story and that as a child, but I’ve often said to him, he’s in retirement now and he gets quite bored, and I’m like, why aren’t you writing down all these amazing ideas that you’ve had? And why aren’t you, you know, I can help you and that, but he’s, he goes to the whole – I’m too old. I’m too old. What would you say to people who are putting their passions and their dreams and their creativity on hold because they think they should have done it when they were younger?
Pat: Yeah. I would say obviously we’re not 21 anymore so everything is a bit harder and you might have to stop and have a little snooze in between. But just do it. Because we’re a long time dead. There will come a point in all of our lives when we’re not capable of doing it, you know, we’ll either our minds will go a bit or physically we won’t be able to. And I just feel really, really strongly that if it’s there, you should try and get it out. Even if you just record it. You know? I bought one of those funny little recorders because I thought, oh, well, I’m out and about in the car if I get inspirational, because you will know, Jo, that your inspiration comes at the most inconvenient times, doesn’t it? I thought, if I had this little recorder, that’s perfect. Well, it’s all sounded well and good, but I’ve never quite worked out how to use it properly. I can stop and start it and replay it, but I can’t make it last for long periods of time. But I always say to people, yeah. If you’ve even got a tiny, tiny desire to do it, just start, because you might find once you start you can’t stop, like I can’t.
You know, it’s, it’s obviously something that’s been hidden down, and you’ve kind of, life has kind of pushed it further and further down in your brain. And suddenly it gets this chance to pop up. And it was quite funny because at the Hamilton Book Month, where I met you, the photographs, the official photographer took all these photographs of each of us up on the podium and everyone’s looking very polite and reading from their book, and my photograph, I’m going like this. I didn’t realise, I was at the point of saying, someone’s taken off the top of my head and all these words come out. But I really do feel very strongly that, if anyone’s got an ounce of desire, they should follow their dream. Because, it doesn’t matter if you never publish it, but your kids might stumble across it when they’re clearing the house and think, Oh my God, this is brilliant, we must publish this.
You know, I think I wish my parents had written and my grandparents had written their lives because it’s a way of honouring your ancestors by writing their stories. And once, as I said earlier, once we die, our stories die. And if your dad doesn’t write things down, you’re not going to know everything that’s in his head. You’ll know the bits he’s told you, but you won’t know everything. So yeah, do try and get him too. I can always phone him and give him a little pep talk if you like. I’m saying now, I think, I mean, I’m 72. I’ve got friends who were old when they were 40, but I’ve equally got friends in their 90s who are still full of life and some of them are writing, and I just think life is different now. 50 years ago, 70 was considered old, but now it’s not. I mean, I look at people in their nineties and I think it’s quite young still, because as you get older and you’ll find this, as you get older, everything seems young. When you’re 60, 70 seems old, when you’re 70, 80 seems quite young. So yeah, do encourage your dad.
Jo: Yeah. Yeah, I am. But I do, I think, a lot of us, and I know I did for a long time too, we are scared, like we’ve got that passion, but there’s a little bit of fear that holds us back. And so grabbing onto any excuse is, yeah. And quite often I do think that that age one comes into it. So my first book was published, I think I just scraped in just before I turned 40 and, even at the same time, I’m like, oh, but there is people like doing this in their twenties and you know, like I’ve always wanted to write, why did it take me so long? And yeah, it’s funny.
Pat: I think, Jo, that in a way being older is an advantage because you’ve got more life experience to write about. So you write from the heart. I mean everything I write is from my heart. And so people say that reading my books, all of my books is like listening to me speak. So now I always joke at the end of my talks and say, if you enjoyed the way I speak you might like my books. If you hate the way I speak you won’t like my books. But seriously, yeah, being older, you have so much more to draw on and your dad will have so many more stories and things than he would have done when he was in his twenties or thirties. You know, we’re all evolving as we get older, aren’t we? And I look back and I think I couldn’t have written half this stuff when I was in my thirties or even forties because I didn’t have the same life experience that I have now. Yeah, it all happens when it’s meant to, I think.
Jo: I agree with that. I do. I do. I think that’s a fantastic perspective. That’s so great.
So what is next on the cards for you? What are you working on now? What are your present projects?
Pat: Well, the one I’m halfway through, probably a third through already, is the third one in my Ancestors Series, which is called Dot and Ben, which is about my own parents’ lives, mixed in with fiction. And that, I’m struggling a bit because it’s very emotional. I’ve also done a few short stories for various anthologies, and I’m co-hosting a book fair, starting next week for the second year running. It’s an American one. It’s run by a Brazilian lady who’s currently living in Spain. But last year she interviewed me a couple of times. And then she said, Pat, would you co-host a book fair with me? I said, yeah, why not? So, and without a clue what I was really doing. And she had, I think, 20 authors that time, and I think we’ve got the same this year. So it was wonderful because we do it over a period of, well, we pre-record them. And we have two or three people at a time and then Lucia and I talking to them. It’s wonderful because you get to know people in such depth and learn about their books. Books that I would never ordinarily read. Psychoanalysis or, you know, very different kinds of stuff than I would normally read. It’s just wonderful. So I’m looking forward to that. That’s a great thing. And just, yeah, just more projects as they come up, really.
Jo: Oh, that’s wonderful. Love it. Love it. So after listening to this, how can people connect with you? Where can they find your books? All that good stuff.
Pat: Okay. Well, my website is just https://www.patbackley.com/. So that’s easy. And in fact, if you just type in Pat Backley on Google, you get masses of stuff come up. My books are all available on all the online things, Amazon, Mighty Ape, Kindle, wherever, wherever. Writers Plot Bookshop in Upper Hutt, they stock it, although they’re now online. It’s not in, it’s not actually physically in any other bookshops, but you can order it through their catalogues. It’s in libraries, you can order it through the library, any of them through the library. That’s about it. Oh, and it’s available in paperback and ebook.
Jo: Wonderful. Oh, that’s so great. Well, thank you so much, Pat. It has been so wonderful and inspiring, chatting to you, and I just love your enthusiasm for writing and publishing and all of that. So thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Pat: It’s been an absolute pleasure and I just hope I haven’t talked too much of. Thank you, Jo.
Jo: So here are some takeaways from today’s show:
1. You’re never too old to write a book. If you want to write, write. Tell your story while you can. In Pat’s words, you’re a long time dead.
2. Writing when you’re older is an advantage because you’ve got so much more life experience, so use it.
3. Even when self-publishing, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Assemble your team to do those things that you find tricky or just don’t want to do. Know your limitations.
4. It’s okay to genre hop and write whatever inspires you.
5. Whatever writing rules you’ve been told, it’s also okay to break them.
6. When posting about your books on social media, make sure to intersperse it with interesting posts so it’s not all about buying your books.
7. Make going to local book fairs to meet other authors and to talk with readers part of your marketing plan.
So I hope you enjoyed that episode and listening to Pat talk as much as I did. I find her passion for writing just so contagious, so I hope that has also got you buzzing to get to work and get writing your next book. Or if you haven’t started yet, start! Get writing! Make it happen!
So make sure that you go visit Pat at her website at https://www.patbackley.com/. Check out her books. She was so kind in actually sending me a few of her books to read. So as soon as my manuscript is at my editor, that is what I will be doing: catching up on quite a bit of reading. Make sure that you go check them out as well.
If you’ve enjoyed the show, I would love, love, love if you could leave a review or rate or share with a friend. Like just tell a friend or somebody else that you think might enjoy Alchemy for Authors about this podcast. That really helps me out and I honestly do appreciate it so much. You can also support the show by buying me a coffee at https://www.buymeacoffee.com/jobuer. That is always appreciated as well, and also helps me to keep this show going.
I am getting right back to work here. I’ve got a whole lot more editing ahead of me. Wish me luck. Have a wonderful writing week ahead, my friends, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye for now.