Interview with Pat Dillon

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
My childhood was spent in the pretty village of Kineton in leafy Warwickshire, UK. I became interested in story telling as a young child, during WW11. When the bombers bound for the big cities flew over our cottage, my younger brother, with whom I shared a bed, would beg me to tell him a story. This helped both of us to concentrate on something other than the fearsome sound engulfing our usually peaceful village. At such times, he would snuggle up to me with the plea, "Please, Pat, tell me a story!" Let me add that the story always had to begin the same way: 'One day I went for a walk, tripped over a matchstick and fell down a wormhole'. How this original format came to be, I cannot remember, but the pattern was set and my brother would accept no other beginning.
And so began my oral story telling and the honing of my imagination.
During school years I loved writing essays, adored books, and grew to love reading the great classics. A writer must also be a reader. This is the way to see how stories come together, how to build tension and where to bring them to a satisfactory and believable conclusion.
When did you first start writing?
The change from oral story telling to writing, developed over many years. I suppose that I saw writers as up there on a pedestal, too high for me to ever attain, instead of ordinary people bursting with untold stories. In the interim I kept a journal. This went on over many years and recorded daily incidents in a busy life, along with my hopes and dreams. Being a mother and Pastor's wife, left very little time for personal pursuits. However, the catalyst that finally got me started was some years later, when my children gave me a book written by a new author. He had won the prize for best novel by a new writer in the UK. After reading it, I said to myself, I can do better than that! And so I had to put my money where my mouth was... Thus began my apprenticeship as an author. Through many stumblings, I got my first novel down, hand-written and in school exercise books. But, by the time I had finished, we had gained a computer. My next big task was to get my tale transferred to a more acceptable format, first learning to touch-type. On the way, membership of a couple of writing groups helped more than I can say. To get the feedback of fellow writers, learning to accept critique and suggestions, and sometimes even being congratulated by those who were further along the road of writing than I, was so encouraging.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Reading the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, one year, I found myself wondering just what happened to the people involved, and what effect it had on their lives after the event - if any. I thought first of the centurion who stood at the foot of the cross. Did it change this hardened soldier of Rome in any way? Here was a man well used to the barbarity of this excruciating punishment; a man who had supervised many crucifixions during his time as a soldier. My imagination was fired by this thought and I began writing his story. At the last moment I entered it in the Alpha to Omega short story competition and to my surprise and delight, it won joint first prize. With that success, could I actually be called a writer...? This success spurred me on to write the ten other stories that make up my book, 'The Witnesses'. First Published as a joint venture with Ark House Press, I have now published it as an eBook, Smashwords edition.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting absolutely lost in the story, would have to be the thing that gives me the greatest joy. The characters become friends. The writer knows everything about them - even so, the author can still be surprised by the way a character leads one. When I finished my novel, 'The Hiring Fair' and its sequel 'Banished', (watch out for the eBooks later this year), I actually felt the ache of loss. I wondered if I would ever meet them again? I think I might... doesn't one always want to catch up with old friends? But you and I will have to wait and see...
I remember when I was writing 'The Hiring Fair', I would sneak into my tiny office, as soon as my husband left for work (still in my PJ's) thinking, I'll just look over what I wrote yesterday, just a few minutes, then I'll do some housework. Before I realised it, I'd been there for hours - alerted only to the fact by the sound of my husband's car returning for lunch!
What do your fans mean to you?
Writing is a lonely business. Of course, the lavish praise of a spouse, children or friends is wonderful. But they are biased in the nicest possible sense. Therefore, it is especially gratifying when someone says how much they have enjoyed what you have written. So much so, that they couldn't put it down until they had finished it. This more than makes up for the long hours spent alone in front of the computer.
Who are your favorite authors?
Peter Carey, R F Delderfield, Winston Graham, John Grisham, Robert Goddard, P D James, Rosamund Pilcher, Daphne du Maurier, Charlotte Bronte. Oh yes, and I still enjoy Dickens. All of these authors know how to tell a good yarn; I return to them again and again.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Firstly, I really don't want to fossilise! There's too much to do! Because of this I like to start my day by reading a passage from the bible then I pray quietly. Without this I feel I've lost out; something is actually missing in my day. In such quiet moments, I got my inspiration for writing The Witnesses'.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read, meet up with a group of friends for coffee once a month, including a one-on-one with a fellow author to encourage and inspire each other. I belong to Encore, a group of seniors from my church who sing for the pure pleasure of it. Our voices are no longer good enough to sing solos, but together we're not bad. In the past, I've done pottery - both wheel and hand-built, made celebration cakes for weddings and birthdays etc, including making the sugar flowers, I still try to do tapestry and petite-point, but arthritis makes this difficult. Another life-long passion is to make marmalade. My husband feels deprived if we ever have to get shop-bought marmalade! Now, after 56 years of marriage, his health is not good and it's my time to look after him.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I vividly remember a story that I wrote in High School. It was probably not the first, but it is the one I remember still. It concerned a teenager smoking secretly in bed. She fell asleep, the cigarette fell from her fingers, and accidentally set her bed alight. While she tried desperately to put out the fire before her mother discovered what she had done, the whole house erupted in flames. She escaped with her family, but it was the last time she smoked in her whole life.
What is your writing process?
Sometimes a picture triggers my inspiration, especially for a short story. Or an overheard fragment of conversation, sets me off. Once, the line of a song did the same; and the sight of a white dog with a huge liver-coloured spot on its abdomen, became the trigger for one of my favourites short stories. I get the words down as quickly as I can, not bothering about the editing until I've finished all that's on my mind. With a novel it's a little different. I have a rough idea of the storyline - though it often changes. Characters get added, new side stories arise. But I always have a firm idea of how it will finish.
Published 2016-06-21.
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Books by This Author

The Witnesses
Price: $1.79 USD. Words: 36,910. Language: English. Published: June 12, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Ancient
The Witnesses is a series of eleven powerful stories of those involved in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. They remind us that these were real people with all the human frailties known to man. The stories give flesh, blood and personality to those who have formerly been just names in this most dramatic story. These stories are fiction, but based on the historic facts.