We loved Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone, what was the inspiration behind the story?
I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. When I was little, I was a little obsessed with looking at gemstones in jewellery catalogues. My birthstone is peridot, for August, and I was jealous that other months had well-known glamorous stones, such as garnets, rubies and sapphires. Years later when I got engaged, I chose a silver ring set with a peridot and wondered about the meaning behind the stone. My ring sparked the idea for Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone, about a jeweller who’s lost his sparkle and how his teenage niece Gemma helps him to find it again.
Gemstones form an intriguing part of the story, how did you decide on which gemstones to include, do you have a favourite gemstone?
I read lots of gemstones books. My local supermarket has a community bookshelf where shoppers can swap books in exchange for a donation to charity. One day, someone had dropped off several gemstone books and it felt like some kind of omen. I decided to start each chapter of my novel with a different stone and its properties, matching them to the emotions and events in that chapter. There were thirty-seven in total so it was quite a big task not to duplicate anything. I’m attracted to green and blue stones the most, and my favourite is peridot. I’m delighted that the stone gets its own starring role in the movie.
Can you share a little about how the book got selected to be made into a movie?
My book had been published for several months (it was originally titled Wishes Under the Willow Tree in the UK) when my literary agency, Darley Anderson, told me that Hallmark wanted to option it. This means a TV channel or film studio is interested in adapting your work and they reserve the rights for a set period of time. There’s no guarantee anything will happen, and in many cases the option period runs out. In Benedict’s case, everything went quiet for three whole years before I learned the movie was going into production. It was a very exciting time.
Each of your books are very unique, how do you decide what to write about next?
I think about things that are personal and important to me, such as my charm bracelet which influenced The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, my gemstone engagement ring which sparked the idea for Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone, or my love of libraries that became The Library of Lost and Found. I also think of themes I’d like to explore – bereavement, families, marriage problems – and characters I’d like to take on an emotional journey of discovery. I also choose a setting I’d like to spend time in, the seaside, or a country village, even India or Paris. I put together the various components and start to weave a story together.
You have had such a varied career, what advice do you have for aspiring writers about how to make the decision to become a full-time writer?
It might sound obvious but you can only really become a full-time writer when you actually write something and get paid for it. Making a decent wage from writing books full-time is quite rare and, first and foremost, you should write because you love it. I wrote six or seven novels (all rejected) before I eventually got a publishing deal.
If you want to write a novel, my advice is to choose a theme or character you’re passionate about. You don’t need total confidence to write, but you do need determination to keep going. Write when you can, on the back of envelopes or while waiting for a train, it all adds up. I’ve published an A-Z of writing tips on my website that might help: www.phaedra-patrick.com/writing-tips
When you are not writing, what do you do to relax?
I have a crazy energetic dog that likes lots of walks, though I’m not sure I’d call that relaxing! To clear my head I like to sew, altering or making dresses. I’m a big fan of browsing charity shops with friends, and I love watching movies. As a young girl I used to watch them and dream that one day I’d get to see my own stories on the big screen. After a long time and a lot of hard work, it’s finally come true.