Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival organiser and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full time. She lives in Saddleworth, UK, with her husband and son. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is her debut novel and is out now.
Phaedra shares her path to publishing her debut novel.
As a child I always dreamed of going into a little local bookshelf and perhaps spying my book on the bottom shelf. But I told myself that kids from Oldham didn’t write books, so I didn’t attempt to put pen to paper until I was in my mid-twenties. I’m completely self-taught with no writing qualifications, and I ended up writing five novels, which took me over a decade in total to compete. I see these previous efforts as trial runs for the book that eventually made it – The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.
I’ve always been fascinated by the business of writing, and I knew that I wanted a literary agent. I used to stand in bookshops and read the acknowledgments in novels to see who the author had name-checked. It became a bit of a weird hobby of mine! However, even when I found representation for two of my books, I didn’t secure a deal. I think I was writing for that agent, rather than from my heart. So I decided to write the book that I’d always wanted to, and I changed agency also.
When my new agent (Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson) explained she was submitting The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper to both UK and overseas publishers at the same time, I thought it was rather odd. Which readers, other than English ones, would want to read about a Yorkshire pensioner who finds a charm bracelet in his late wife’s wardrobe and sets off on a journey to discover the stories behind each of the charms? So it was a huge surprise when Italy was the first country to snap up the translation rights. The UK was the sixth country to offer, and the book has now reached its twentieth translation worldwide.
I first saw my book on the shelf in a large supermarket near home, one copy along from Cameron Diaz’s book. I took a few minutes to stare at the shelf and take it in. It was a surreal moment but one that I’d really worked hard for. And all the previous rejections made it feel all the sweeter.
40 Years of Marriage. 8 Golden Charms. One Man's Journey of Discovery.Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before. What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife's secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.
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