In conversation with Phaedra Patrick



I'm excited to welcome the wonderful Phaedra Patrick to AD's In Conversation With today. Phaedra is an internationally renowned author, and has been penning bestselling books for the past seven years. Her curiously charming fiction novels have been translated into an astounding twenty-five languages around the globe. 

Patrick's USA Today bestselling book, Rise & Shine Benedict Stone, was scooped up by Hallmark and turned into a movie, released at the end of last year. Phaedra's latest novel, The Messy Lives of Book People is releasing next week with HarperCollins Canada.

Phaedra and I caught up over email, where she shared some insight on her writing process, a few of her personal literary heroes, and what she likes to do when she's not writing.

Phaedra Patrick by Sam Ralph

What's the first thing you do when you sit down to write a new book?

I love stationery so each new novel I write starts with buying a new notebook. I look out for something that catches my eye, that I’ll enjoy using, is a good size to carry around and that I can find easily on my messy desk. Once my idea for a novel has been signed off by my editors in the UK and USA, I set everything that’s in my head down on paper. It might be snippets of conversations, ideas for characters, or scenes I have kicking around. Then I have everything in one place in my notebook, ready to begin.

The Messy Lives of Book People tells the story of Liv Green, mother of two and an aspiring writer who finds solace in books. A relatable character in many ways. Where did you draw inspiration from for your protagonist? 

Liv is a hard-working mother-of-two who’s undergone several setbacks in life and isn’t quite where she wants to be. She reads books in order to escape into fictitious worlds in her head, something I think lots of us can relate to. Liv’s proud of her cleaning work while also harbouring a secret desire to be a writer, especially as her dad was an English professor at university. 

When I was young I also wanted to write but thought it was something that people like me didn’t achieve, so I didn’t tell anyone about my dream. I’m glad that after many rejections from agents and publishers I eventually proved myself wrong! 

As a book lover, I was instantly drawn to your novel. What emotions do you hope to evoke in the reader?

My characters experience many ups and down throughout the novel which means I also I go through them when I write. I find some scenes are emotionally draining to craft, whereas others can be funny and uplifting. I hope readers enjoy joining me on the roller coaster of feelings. Overall, I try to leave my characters in a happy place and like readers to finish my books with a smile on their faces.

Did you have any personal literary heroes growing up? 

I used to devour Enid Blyton books when I was little, and read all the Famous Five, Secret Seven and Malory Towers books. I knew I wanted to write too, but the worlds Blyton created, about boarding schools and plucky kids having adventures, were far removed from my own life. Although she was a literary hero to me, I had to develop a way to create and tell my own stories.

Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone was adapted by Hallmark and released last year. How did it feel to see your book on the screen? 

I was sent an early link to watch the film and viewed the first twenty minutes sitting on my own in my bedroom. It was surreal and very touching to see characters I’d created come alive on screen, and it was a special moment to see my name credited in the opening sequence. I feel incredibly proud of the film and have watched it at least seven times already. The casting is perfect, and it was fascinating to see my story transported from a small UK village to Canada. 

I love how the story shares the same DNA as the book, though of course there have been a few changes. I like how it’s a warm, feel-good film that all ages can enjoy.

What do you like to do when you're not writing? 

After writing all day, I like to do something that clears my mind. I enjoy looking around charity shops, buying clothes and altering them to fit. I prefer hand sewing rather than using a machine. When I’m concentrating on pushing a needle and cotton through fabric, I’m not thinking about anything else. I also enjoy walking in the countryside with my dog and meeting my friends or parents for a nice lunch somewhere. It’s a treat not to cook things for myself.

The Messy Lives of Book People by Phaedra Patrick is available in hardcover format at Indigo or e-book and audiobook format from Kobo. Check HarperCollins Canada for additional retailers.