Patricia Feinberg Stoner Interview

Patricia Feinberg Stoner is a British writer: a former journalist, advertising copywriter and publicist. After graduating from Trinity College Dublin she joined a local newspaper, The Liverpool Daily Post, as a trainee. Quickly discovering she was a terrible reporter, she switched to feature writing and since then her career has revolved around the written word.

What inspired you to write?
I've always written, ever since I can remember. My first job was as a reporter with the Liverpool Daily Post (in UK) - and I was terrible! As soon as possible I switched to feature writing and, when inspiration struck, to comic verse.

Did the inspiration to write come to you suddenly, or had you been thinking about it some time?
For this particular book: while we were living in France there were so many funny incidents and so many bizarre encounters that I started keeping a diary.

How did you tell your story? In other words, did you use an outline, or just write your story from start to finish?
The diary morphed into a series of articles for a magazine and I ended up writing a column for about 18 months. Eventually I sat down and crafted these into a reasonably coherent narrative. I didn't exactly have an outline, but I used the framework of how we came to buy our house in France, how we ended up living there full-time and our decision, eventually, to return to England.

Did you receive any encouragement from family and friends, or did you work on your book alone?
My husband, as always, was massively supportive - he is a writer himself. I think a lot of my friends thought it was a grand idea but would never happen. My colleagues in Arun Scribes, and especially Angela Petch and Rosemary Noble, supported me and kept me (relatively) sane throughout.

What was the most difficult part of writing your book?
I think the structure. The writing was never a problem, I had endless material, but turning it into something which held together as a book was difficult.

What was the most enjoyable aspect of writing your book?
Always, the memories it brought back.

Did you experience any personal transformation after the book was published?
I think I surprised even myself by sticking to the project and finishing it. I don't know if this is personal transformation, but I came out determined to carry on writing and publishing.

What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity?
Technology! I hate it and I love it. Publishing as an indie author has been a massive learning curve (I now know what a mobi file is, for heaven's sake!) but I hate the fact that learning new techniques took time away from the bits I like: the writing and the promotion.

What strategies do you use to deal with criticism?
Always to listen to people I respect, and then take what I need and ignore the rest. I have learned not to take constructive criticism personally, but remind myself that it is up to me in the end to choose what I write and how I write it.

Are you working on a new book at the moment? What are you up to nowadays?
I am working on two books. 'Morbignan Tales' is going to be a collection of short stories, based round the village and the characters of 'At Home in the Pays d'Oc'. I've got about half of it written but I really have to get down to it soon.

Also in the pipeline is 'The Little Book of Rude Limericks' which I want to have ready in time for Christmas - it's going to be very much a stocking filler. When we used to drive down to France I amused myself on long journeys by making up limericks based on the names of town we passed through - or, in one case, the toll booth:

On the new Autoroute des Plages

If you meet a girl, curvy and large,

Who says ‘Veux-tu, chéri?’

Don’t go thinking it’s free:

The transaction is strictly péage.

What I'm getting up to apart from writing and (still) making up silly limericks is publicity and promotion. My two Arun Scribes colleagues - Angela Petch and Rosemary Noble - and I are hoping to go on the talking circuit locally to speak to anyone who is interested in self-publishing. I'm spending a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter to network with people, too. I still have to make time for my elderly dog and somewhat less elderly husband: we all go for a walk on the beach every morning and then buy coffee and sit by the sea and put the world to rights.

Do you have any author appearances coming up and/or are you doing any books giveaways or contests?
Nothing immediate, although as I said above we hope to be speaking to some groups later this year. When I launch Rude Limericks I am planning to do a giveaway of my first book of comic verse, 'Paw Prints in the Butter', at the same time.

Where did you grow up and what is your favorite/worst childhood memory?
I grew up in London. My favourite memory is holidays we took in an old-fashioned farm cottage in Cornwall. When we first went there it had no electricity and we were lit with oil lamps and my mother cooked on an old range.

Do you have a favorite quote?
'For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.' (Muriel Spark, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie')

What is your favorite show on TV?
The Big Bang Theory

Favorite movie?
The Italian Job - the Michael Caine version.

Favorite book?
This varies, but I love anything by David Mitchell or Terry Pratchett.

Who would you want to meet if you could? Dead or alive.
The French singer Georges Brassens. Sadly I never got to see him perform.

Is there a talent you wish you had?
Yes - I wish I could sing (or even carry a tune).

What’s something about you that would surprise us?
I seem to work hard, but actually I'm quite lazy.

Describe yourself in 3 words!
Determined, humorous, nosy.