Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi Fiona, firstly thank you for having me here on your blog. My name is Patricia M Osborne and I’m 62 years of age.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Liverpool, lived in Bolton for my younger years and moved down to Surrey when I was eleven years old. I now live in West Sussex.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a mother to three children and grandmother to five. I left school at 15 without any qualifications as my father became disabled after a works accident so I had to get a job to help bring in money as we were a family of seven.
In 1977 I went back to college and took typewriting and book-keeping courses and RSA exams. In 2009 after completing my music theory exams to Grade 5, I started a degree with the Open University, initially to continue study for music, but after completing my diploma I decided to go down the creative writing route. I graduated in 2013 with a BA in Humanities with Creative Writing and Music. Also during 2013 I sat my GCSE English and Maths exams at the local college. In 2014, after my mum died, I embarked on a new journey to help me focus and began an MA in Creative Writing with The University of Brighton., I am now on the last hurdle with just the dissertation to complete.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, was published in March 2017 and I am now in the process of writing the second in the trilogy, The Coal Miner’s Son. I also write poetry and short stories and was recently awarded first prize in the student category for the Brighton and Hove Art’s Council Poetry Competition. I’ve had various poems and short stories published in magazines and anthologies. I’m in the process of collating two of my own poetry collections.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Particularly poetry. In fact, I won my first poetry competition when I was about six years old. It was a poem titled Clothes but that’s all I remember. I don’t even remember what the prize was, it was a very long time ago. However, it was in 2011 that I first started to write seriously when I began my first creative writing course with the Open University. As I started using the technical tools my writing became stifled. This is quite normal apparently. Thankfully it didn’t last long and by the time I was studying the advanced writing course the ink once again flowed.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been saying I’m a writer since around 2012 but not really believing it. It was only earlier this year, after releasing my debut novel and becoming Poet in Residence at a local Victorian park, that I said, ‘I’m a writer’ and believed it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
George Orwell’s, Road to Wigan Pier, Mr Selfridge, and for those old enough to remember, House of Elliot.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Originally my title was Grace, but I soon realised that didn’t have the same ring as House of Grace. House of Grace just seemed right, like House of Elliot.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I like to write in the first person past tense for novels but for poetry and short stories I prefer to stay in the present to make it more immediate. For poetry I aim to create stanzas full of imagery, inspired by H.D. Doolittle (Imagist)
When writing short stories and novels, I tend to stick to family sagas although I am tempted at some point to try fantasy. I’m inclined to write in the 50’s and 60’s so I can use my memories as well as research.
My preference in poetry is to use nature and to write in narrative form. I’m hoping to study fairy and folklore for my dissertation and from this develop a poetry collection. Later I may use that research for short stories and novels.
It’s challenging to write every day when life gets in the way. But writing isn’t a chore to me but an adventure.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is completely fiction, but I used to get my late mum to talk about when she was young, I based Grace and Jack on my mum and dad’s ages when they first met. My mum was very elegant, as is Grace.
In relation to Bolton, I used childhood memories. The Palais De Danse Facebook were keen to help in describing the Palais in 1950, even down to the décor and how much a cup of coffee would cost. In fact, all the Bolton Facebook groups were fantastic in helping me with research.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t really travel but tend to use the internet and books for research. I had hoped to return to Bolton to see the Palais before they demolished it earlier this year. A sad time for Boltonians.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Create Imaginations designed the picture and author Peter Jones completed the cover with the text.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not a message as such but readers tend to love the retro, those old enough to remember like to look back, and younger readers see things in the eyes of their mums or grandmothers.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
New writers, Hannah Vincent, Alarm Girl and Umi Sinha, Belonging. I am lucky that each of these new authors have been my tutor at different times. I’m looking forward to Hannah Vincent’s latest novel, The Weaning, that comes out in February 2018.
I like a lot of established writers so I’m not sure I can pick just one. Bernard Cornwell hooks me from page one with his Last Kingdom series. Stephanie Meyer with her Twilight Series and vampire fantasy. Kazuo Ishiguro is a fabulous writer, I especially enjoyed, Never Let Me Go, it still haunts me today. I’ve spent many hours curled up on the sofa with novels from Catherine Cookson, Danielle Steele, Georgette Heyer and Lyn Andrews being entertained by their family sagas.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My online writers’ forum that I couldn’t be without. They kept/keep my confidence up at times of self-doubt which I believe all writers experience at some time or another.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’m not sure I see it as a career, at my age, but I certainly see it as who I am and what I do.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m not sure I would change anything. I contemplated losing Part I with young Grace before publishing but pre-published readership confirmed I should keep it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Gosh yes, this was my first novel and I never thought I was capable of writing one. It has taught me how to pace writing differently to a short story and show images as much as possible, so the reader sees what I see. I’ve also learned a lot on the other side of the fence, marketing for instance.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I think I’d cast the lead part to Jenna Coleman as she did such an excellent job in her role as Victoria.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Believe in yourself. Don’t get despondent with rejection, try and write every day, even if it’s just a poem or a small passage. Don’t be isolated, join an online or face to face writing group and be involved in critique. Critique makes you a better writer.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you want to write, give it a go. Writing is great therapy. You don’t have to write with the aim to be published, you can write just for yourself if that’s what you want.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just finished Antonia White’s, Frost in May and Joy Woods, Chanjori. I’m in the process of reading a novella Are You Lost by Fay Wentworth, and Elizabeth Ducie’s Deception. I’m about to start Matt Haig’s, How to Stop Time which I need to read for my book club meeting.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
That’s a tough one. I cry quite easily. Sad and happy films make me cry. My granddaughters make me laugh.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would love to have met David Cassidy. He was my teenage heartthrob; my bedroom walls were filled with posters of him. I was devastated when I heard of his recent death.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I have a lot of hobbies but there’s not always time to fulfil them all.
Painting. I recently went on an art work shop with artist John Thomson at National Trust property, Nyman’s Gardens. This was very different to what I expected as we used our fingers rather than a brush.
Photography, I’d love to study this at some point.
Walking along the seafront, around the countryside and lakes, watching and listening to wildlife.
And I mustn’t forget my piano and singing in the local community choir.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Period and hospital dramas, sci-fi and fantasy. Most things really and I love quiz shows, something I’ve inherited from my mum, particularly The Chase.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Favourite food – New York Cheesecake.
Favourite colour – Purple
Favourite music – Classical, Motown, Blues, Reggae.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I can’t imagine a future where I don’t write. Escaping into my make believe helps me through painful times. I don’t believe my muse would allow me to stop writing, imaginary reels of film unwind before my eyes, particularly around 2am when I’m trying to sleep.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I really haven’t thought of this. I imagine something like ‘Determined, never gave up her dream.’
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Amazon Author Page
Link where to Buy
Blurb for House of Grace, A Family Saga
It’s 1950 and all sixteen-year-old Grace Granville has ever wanted is to become a successful dress designer. She dreams of owning her own fashion house and spends her spare time sketching outfits. Her father, Lord Granville, sees this frivolous activity as nonsense and wants to groom her into a good wife for someone of his choosing…
Grace is about to leave Greenemere, a boarding school in Brighton. She’s blissfully unaware of her father’s plans when she embarks on a new adventure. The quest includes a trip to Bolton’s Palais where she meets coal miner, Jack Gilmore. Grace’s life is never the same again.
Travel with Grace through two decades as she struggles with family conflict, poverty and tragedy. Is Grace strong enough to defy Lord Granville’s wishes and find true love? Will she become a successful fashion designer? Where will she turn for help?