Pat Backley - A Gentle Family Saga, Set in Alabama, Harlem
I am an Englishwoman, who decided at the age of 59 to emigrate to New Zealand. Since then my life has changed in so many ways -for good, bad and better! I use these experiences and the stories of my ancestors, as inspiration for my writing. DAISY is my first novel, the sequel will be released later this year and my memoirs are about to be published. This year, I have also contributed short stories to 2 charity anthologies and have 3 more novels rattling around in my head. Life is now pretty exciting and I intend to write until I die!
Please give us a short introduction to what Daisy is about.
DAISY is a novel, a historical family saga spanning almost 100 years, from 1887 to 1974. It is set in Alabama, Harlem and London and touches on some of the evils of society- poverty, racism and snobbery, as well as some of the greatest that life has to offer- family, friendship and love.
What inspired you to write a family saga spanning almost 100 years?
I have always been fascinated by social history and the lives of ordinary people and once I started writing, this novel just seemed to take on a life of its own!
Why did you pick Alabamba, Harlem, and London as the backdrop for your story?
I wanted to incorporate aspects of slavery and racism, and having spent time in all these places, it just seemed like a natural background fit to my story.
How has your emigration to New Zealand influenced your world view and writing?
Being an immigrant and travelling frequently (prior to COVID!) has had an enormous influence on my opinions and my writing. I am now far more adventurous, empathetic and caring, having seen many things, including poverty and racism, with my own eyes.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Besides writing and reading, I love interior design, painting and gardening. Probably my best skill is caring deeply for my fellow human beings!
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
I did not find any of my characters particularly hard to create, they almost created themselves as I wrote. Because I was using people from different eras and places, I did have to do a considerable amount of research to ensure everything was factually correct.
Your book touches on some heavy themes, including poverty, racism, and snobbery. Why did you find this important to write about?
Initially, I had not intended to write about so many heavy subjects, but I guess my own strong opinions somehow found their way into the plot. Sometimes it is easier to skim over tricky subjects, but that is not really my way!
You used a third-person narrator to tell the story. Why did you take this approach?
I wanted the story to be told almost like a human history lesson, rather than from one particular characters perspective.
What do you hope readers will take away from Daisy?
I would like my readers to think about equality, how we should all be equal, regardless of our colour, wealth, and upbringing. How precious life is and that regardless of the life we are born into, it is how we live that life that really matters.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
I designed the basic cover myself, but then got a professional cover designer to do their magic! I wanted a simple cover, with a bold design in a bright colour, that would be appealing to the eye and make people want to open it to discover more.
Which of the characters in Daisy contains the most of your own personality?
I think all of the characters contain a little of various people I have known in my life. I was not aware when I was writing DAISY just how much I was drawing on my own experiences, but re-reading it I see many likenesses to people I have encountered over the years. Just snippets of behaviour here and there, often muddled up between different characters.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I write whenever the mood takes me. Obviously lockdown was good for us writers, as it meant we had a good excuse to lock ourselves away and put our thoughts onto paper! I have to keep a notebook by my bed, as I often wake up with a wonderful plot in my head and unless I get it onto paper really quickly, it has disappeared, never to return!
What are you working on right now?
I have just finished my memoirs “FROM THERE TO HERE (WITH AN AWFUL LOT IN BETWEEN)” which will be published next month.
I am working on the sequel to DAISY, have another 3 novels rattling around in my head and have just co-authored on two books, a charity anthology called SERENDIPITY and the other, a coffee table book to be published in the States in April, entitled THE WARRIOR WOMEN PROJECT, THE SISTERHOOD OF IMMIGRATION.”
Where can our readers discover more about your work or interact with you?
DAISY is published as a paperback and ebook and is available on Amazon and all leading online retailers. It is also available in public libraries here in New Zealand. My website is www.patbackley.com