# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hi, I’m Patsy Collins from the south coast of England. As well as being a keen reader and writer of fiction I’m an enthusiastic gardener, photographer and baker of cakes. My other interests include history and travelling with my husband in our campervan. He’s a brilliant photographer and enthusiastic eater of cakes.
I write stories about relationships; romances, but also friendship and family tales. People don’t exist in isolation. It’s our relationships with others which interest us and make us interesting. Several of my novels also include an element of crime – but that’s not because I find law abiding people dull!
As well as novels, I also write short stories. A lot of them. After these have been published (usually in UK women’s magazines) I put them together into themed collections of 24 stories. Subjects include gardening, ghost stories, romance, time, food and drink, clothing, work, family…
I’ve also written 1 1/2 writing books. They’re both complete, it’s just that I co-authored one with my friend and fellow writer Rosemary J. Kind.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I’m not convinced it exists. There are days when the words flow easily and days when the have to be coaxed out. There are days when I hardly want to stop working to eat and days when it’s hard to get started, but if I open up a document and hold my fingers over the keyboard I can always write something. Maybe I’ve just been lucky?
I wrote my book A Year Of Ideas: 365 sets of writing prompts and exercises to help those who’d like to write but struggle to get started. As the cover suggests there’s a prompt and writing exercise for every day of the year. Actually there are also several extra ones and there’s a scene or story suggestion per day too, but that doesn’t make for a snappy title.
When I’m not writing myself I occasionally present creative writing workshops. Although some people write a great deal more words than others, or may find one particular aspect more challenging, nobody has ever experienced writers’ block throughout these sessions.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
1. Not getting started.
2. Not keeping going until you’ve finished.
3. Thinking that completing the first draft means you’ve written a book.
4. Thinking that completing the second draft means you’ve written a book.
5. Not obtaining and acting upon constructive criticism.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Fortunately I’ve not had many bad reviews. When I get them I try not to take them to heart, I re-read some of the nice ones, and remind myself that it’s not possible to please everyone.
When it comes to negative feedback from my beta readers I welcome it. I want to know about anything and everything which could be improved – so that I can make those improvements and publish the best possible book. I don’t always follow every suggestion, but even when I disagree it’s useful to know that others react, feel or understand things in a different way from me.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
They’re vital! A story without emotion is just words. They may join together to create a pretty picture, or describe a huge amount of action, but they won’t hold a reader’s attention long term without emotion.
Not every story requires us to be terrified, fall in love or cry with laughter. Sometimes they’ll raise a chuckle or satisfied smile, make us wistful or perhaps more contented with our lot in life. I feel there needs to be something, some emotional reaction in the reader, for a story to be truly successful.
# What are your plans for future books?
I have so many plans! I’ll be writing new novels, including a new crime story and another set on a farm. I’m writing more short stories and will eventually put those into collections.
I’m also having more of my books made into audiobooks. So far there’s just Escape To The Country and Paint Me A Picture, but some short story collections will be available soon, followed by more novels.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
It doesn’t feel quirky to me, but I know that not everyone writes ‘on location’ in a campervan. I do that as often as I can, and not just so I can take interesting trips and claim to be working! Being able to walk where my characters walk, share the view with them, visit the same places and eat the same food is very helpful. That was particularly the case with Leave Nothing But Footprints, which is set in a campervan. The story isn’t in any way autobiographical, but there is plenty of authentic detail. It was really fun to write.
Oh, maybe I should have just said that I can’t type. I write directly onto my laptop, but I only use two fingers (one for letters and spaces and one for the shift key.) That’s probably something of a quirk in someone who has published almost 30 books.