Hope you’ve got a cup of tea, or coffee, so that you can settle down and enjoy this wonderful interview wit Pat Posner. I’m thrilled that Pat has agreed to be our featured author for May. Her stories are magical. For regular readers of People’s Friend, you will know that there aren’t many issues without one of Pat’s stories in there.
I began following Pat’s stories when I read a Cresslethwaite story. The mobile library was shutting down, and the character in the story depended on the library for her busy days in the tea shop. She came up with the idea of finding a corner for books, and this became the lending library. It was such a lovely story, I immediately wanted to go and visit Cresslethwaite, and have a drink in that tea-room, chat to the people, and find a book. That is the mark of a good story teller, and I’ve been hooked on Pat’s stories ever since.
S/ Pat, my first introduction to your stories was one set in the picturesque village of Cresslethwaite.
Where is this lovely place? Is it somewhere you’ve visited, or a mixture, because wherever it is, I want to go and visit.
P/ Hello, Susan. Thank you so much for inviting me here for a chat.
Cresslethwaite has quite a lot in common with the small villages and settlements in Littondale – a dale in North Yorkshire. It’s probably most like the main village, Arncliffe, where the outside locations for Emmerdale Farm (as it was in its early days) were filmed.
S/ We’d like to know a bit more about your Craikeworth Hall stories please? Did you write these with a particular place in mind, and did you need to research, or are the stories purely fiction? Since putting this issue together, I read on the letters page that one lady gave her son the middle name Craik, after the hall. The registrar wanted to put Craig, but she was adamant, he would be Craik. You’ve started a new trend Pat.
P/ I was researching traditions related to Shrove Tuesday and came across information about the Skipping Festival held in Scarborough on Pancake Day. It has been an annual event since 1903. Well, I’d already got a few characters (downstairs staff of a big house called Craikeworth Hall) ‘screaming’ for a story and, all along, I’d known they were from the early 1900s. I’d spent quite a while with them already – making sure their names were not only from the right era but also matched their personalities. Characters’ names are very important to me, once they’ve got the right name they spring to life.
Anyway, I decided Craikeworth Hall would be somewhere a couple of miles away from Scarborough and that some of the maids were hoping to go to the Skipping Festival. The rest, as they say, “is History”.
S/ Now, Pat, we can’t go any further without talking about the pre-fab stories. Set in the wonderful Broome Park Village, 1950’s era. Family spirit and sharing with neighbours is the theme that comes across in these adorable stories with those brilliant illustrations to match. You have the knack of showing us how hard times can be warm and wonderful in these stories. What made you choose such an unlikely setting for a series that can never read enough of?
P/ I honestly don’t know how I chose it. The prefab village and the villagers living there just sort of ‘came’ as the complete deal. When I realised the village was near a park, I chose Broome Park Prefab Village for the name because my favourite park when I was a tot (in the 1950s) was Broomfield Park – there weren’t any prefabs near it, though.
S/ We also love the Lobb Clough Farm stories. Recent one has been published in May issue of People’s Friend. Did you live on a farm, or is it purely from imagination?
P/ We do live in a farmhouse on a sheep farm but, although they seem to think differently, they aren’t our sheep and we aren’t farmers. I have used our farmhouse and surroundings in short stories and in a pocket novel but Lobb Clough Farm and its labourers’ cottages are set on a different Lancashire moor. The stories take us back to life in the 1840s.
S/ with so many series of stories going on, it’s sometimes easy to forget that you also write loads of stand-alone stories. Do you prefer to write something completely different, or are you happier writing the favourites?
P/ Oh, that’s a hard one to answer. As long as I’m happy with a story-line and I feel I really know the characters, I’m happy to write their story whether it’s a stand-alone or part of a series. Though, shhh! I think I love my prefab folk the ‘mostest’.
S/ How many stories did you send to People’s Friend before you had an acceptance? I know it wouldn’t have been many:)
P/ I think it was only two or three. “A Dog for Grandad” was published in 2006. I think that was after I’d had my first Pocket Novel accepted. But after that one short story acceptance the next few mss were rejected (with very helpful comments). I was still mainly writing children’s books back then so I didn’t try any more stories for the “Friend” until around 2010. The first four were rejected but I kept trying and “Cream-tea Tuesdays”, the first Cresslethwaite story was accepted in 2011.
S/ Any other information you have to tell us on People’s Friend Pat, your journey to becoming one of their top writers would be great.
P/ After the Cresslethwaite acceptance I really, really stuck at it and concentrated only on writing stories for the People’s Friend. I’d always loved the magazine – reading it for research (very important) as well as for pleasure wasn’t a hardship – and, after a few more acceptances, to think I might become a regular “Friend” writer kept me going through the rejections – and, yes, I still get a few! My editor, the lovely Shirley Blair, gives fantastic feedback and very often her comments help me turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’. I feel the entire PF team are friends and I hope I’ll be writing for the magazine, and writing Pocket Novels, too, for many years to come.
S/ Amazing interview Pat, and thank you so much for taking time to let us into your People’s Friend world.
You can find Pat’s blog here…..http://writeupthehill.blogspot.co.uk/
Also she has lots of children’s books, can be found on her blog. I like the look of this one.
Look out for another interview in June…………