Several years ago, when I was searching for a writing group, a brilliant man told me to check out the Water Cooler over at Absolute Write. He said there were many savvy people over there who were generous with their time and expertise.
It took me very little time to discover that he was right. I love the friends I have made over at AW, especially the ones in the children’s forums. It’s a great place to learn the art form, but it is much more than that. It’s also a warm, caring community of writers that support each other in many ways.
One day I was expressing my pleasure with the folks over at AW with the aforementioned man who originally led me there, and thanking him for that favor, when he told me I needed to check out some of the posts by a member called Trish. He said he loved her stories, and thought I would, too. He was right, as usual.
Today, Trish has graciously accepted my invitation to come over and join us for a little while and to tell us a little about her work. You’ll discover for yourselves why I am so fond of this beautiful lady, and why I fell in love with her characters. I first knew her as Trish, but her real name is Patricia Puddle, so to avoid confusion, I’ll address her as Patricia.
Good morning, Patricia, and welcome to my world. I’m so excited that you agreed to come all the way up here from Australia to tell us a little bit about your writing, and about your life outside of writing.
Hi Melody, thank you so much for inviting me. Yes, I love Absolute Write Water Cooler. I found it on the web because I wanted to write children’s stories but I didn’t know where commas went or how to spell.
As you know, I left school at the age of fourteen, still unable to write properly. I can’t believe how bold I was, posting my chapters on Absolute Write’s ‘Share Your Work’ forum. (These chapters are now published as Star-Crossed Rascals and Rascals Sing at The Opera House.) The first chapter I posted on Aw was The Damn Brickfield. Of course, most writers told me I couldn’t use the word ‘damn’ as it was a swear word in America, so I changed it to darn. If it wasn’t for the encouragement from you, Michael, and other AW members, I wouldn’t have known how to learn. Michael was the first person to comment on my first post and I can’t tell you what a thrill that was. Instead of criticizing my bad spelling and grammar, he said he thought my story was hilarious, though later he suggested I buy a book on grammar and also to Google commas. He also edited my chapters and so did you and others, which encouraged me to keep learning. That day, I walked around with the biggest grin on my face and told everyone in my family that at least Americans liked my stories.
I took Michael’s advice and bought The Pocket Basics for English by Lyn Magree. I took this grammar book with me everywhere, still do. I also studied hundreds of children’s books and joined Critique Circle, where I’m still a member. Molly has now evolved into an animal lover and the younger Molly has been turned into Polly, (full name Pollyweena Grubble, who’s best friend is Gertie McDougal, the other rascal.) Pollyweena even has her own twitter account, but she spelled her name wrong and has three e’s. Here is her twitter account if anyone wants to follow her: https://twitter.com/#!/pollyweeena
So far, I have four published children’s books, which are available on Amazon as eBooks and paperbacks. There are two Rascals books: Star-Crossed Rascals and Rascals Sing at The Opera House, a Molly Gumnut book titled Molly Gumnut Rescues a Bandicoot, and Velvet Ball and The Broke Fairy. Velvet isn’t illustrated like the other three books as it’s for older children. Nine-year-old Velvet has alopecia and is bullied at school, but when she meets up with a weird little sprite called Roseberry, the two girls set out to tackle the bullies. Trouble is, Roseberry didn’t pay attention at magic school and has no Idea how to do magic, nor does she care about learning. Velvet ends up with yet another problem because the bullies think Roseberry is just a doll and kidnap her.
When I first read your work over at AW, I must say, I laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants. You have an amazing knack for capturing the personality and antics of a young, boisterous child. Does that come mostly from observation, or were you the type of child you are so good at bringing to life in your writing?
Um, well, I have to admit that most of the rascal’s tales are true events of the things that I did as a child. I didn’t intend to be naughty, but I was accident prone and always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had spent some time in hospital with childhood illnesses at age six and seven and I got quite behind with my school work. This caused people to think I was a slow learner and I ended up being the class clown to cover my embarrassment of not knowing how to write or do math. I’m not sure if I had ADHD or not, but I sure fit the profile back then, though I was quite a cunning child. When I accidently broke the bathroom wall in the girl’s bathroom, I managed to get away before I got caught.
Oh, Patricia, I remember reading about that incident. It’s one of my favorites, actually. I didn’t know that you actually did that! What other trouble did you cause?
Another time, I wet my pants because a teacher refused to let me go to the bathroom, so I stuffed them down the back of the radiator to dry. Though I managed to put them back on when they were dry without anyone seeing me, I had stunk out the classroom and the teacher and headmistress couldn’t work out where the stink was coming from. Then there was the bubble-gum my best friend and I collected and chewed up to make a giant ball. Silly me went home and told my mother, which made her ban me from playing with my friend ever again. That’s where I came up with the title for Star-Crossed Rascals. I invented a really mean character called Great Aunt Mabel so that the rascals were more endearing and didn’t look to be just naughty, disrespectful brats, which is what Gertie actually is in the story.
You’ve published four books now, and I guess I should tell our audience that they are (chapter books or picture books, I don’t know which, Trish). Of these four, which is your favorite, and why? If it is because of a character, could you tell us why you like her/him particularly?
Three of my books are illustrated chapter books, not picture books. The only one not a chapter book is Velvet Ball and The Broken Fairy, which is Junior Fantasy Fiction for kids aged eight to twelve, though Velvet also suits younger children and also adults. I’m writing the sequel at the moment and also editing the sequel to Molly Gumnut. Then I’ll write the third Rascals Book.
Aside from writing your books, you also draw the illustrations. I know you are also artistically talented in several other ways, besides. How long have you been drawing, and were you professionally trained?
Haha. No, I was never trained to draw. I used to doodle in class when I should have been paying attention to my lessons, but I was so far behind that I never caught up. I remember my last few days at school at the age of fourteen, a teacher sneaked up behind me and snatched my drawings from me, then she sent me outside for the rest of the lesson. After publishing Velvet, I got some quotes for illustrations for the rascals, but the cheapest quote was $3,000 and only for twelve pictures. No way could I afford that, so I had a go at drawing them myself and was surprised that I could still draw. I love doing the illustrations, though they do take as long to do as the writing and editing of the whole book.
In addition to your hilarious characters, Patricia, you introduce your readers to some adorable and memorable animal friends. I know why you do this, but I would love for you to share this part of your life with the readers here. I so much admire you for this work that you’re involved in.
Well, like you, Melody, I love all animals. My husband and I have had guinea pigs for ten years. I’ve had many other pets too. We adore the furry little creatures and I write about them. I also volunteer for a wildlife rescue charity. Mainly I man a phone from my home for a large area, but sometimes I’m privileged to care for an injured or orphaned animal. I once had a baby bandicoot and he inspired me to write a Molly Gumnut adventure. I fell in love with him and didn’t want to release him back to his own territory because there were four cats living there. He’d been handed to me by the owner of that property after one of her cats attacked him. I did ask her to keep her cats in at dusk and dawn and encouraged her to put up a large cat enclosure, which she said she would do.
Then I tried to imagine what a child would feel like if she had to give a furry friend back to where a cat lived. I guess I’m still a child in the head. LOL. I had named the bandicoot Furble and if anyone would like to see him, I have a few short movies on Youtube under my name Patricia Puddle. I add lots of things I learn about animals to all of my stories.
You portray the young child so well, but do you have any plans to venture into the middle grade sector? I ask because I know some of your characters are growing up a bit, and I would hate to lose sight of what they’re up to. And if you aren’t going to continue with them, are we going to be meeting more of their friends any time soon?
I’ll continue to write all three series and they will definitely grow up. I have great plans for all my characters. However, Velvet is nine and I’m writing the sequel at the moment. By the third Velvet book, she’ll be a teenager, so it will be a Fantasy Adventure Love Story, with comedy and danger, of course. Molly, Polly & Gertie will all grow up to be mischievous teens, too. I can’t wait for that because you wouldn’t believe what I got up to as a teen, so I have plenty of plots for them.
Patricia, up to this point you have chosen the self-publishing route. Is this working out well for you? I don’t really know a lot about that aspect of writing, so I would love to hear any ideas you would care to share about obstacles one might come across by going this way, or possibly you are finding it to be a less stressful way of getting your work out to the public.
As you know, Melody, I did submit my original Molly stories to publishers, but after many rejections and hundreds of rewrites, I decided to self-publish because I’m in my fifties now and it takes years for an author to get known. Also, one of our beautiful pals from AW, who had just acquired an agent, suddenly died before her wonderful story got published. She was about my age and this gave me a push and I decided to self-publish. By this time, I realized I wasn’t as dumb as I thought I was, so I learned how to make an eBook and published Velvet with Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. (They both give great instructions and are always there to help). When I came to publish The rascals and Molly, it was harder because I had to learn how to publish illustrations in eBooks and paperbacks, but as before Amazon, Smashwords and CreateSpace all helped me to learn. I loved that I could create my own book covers, keep all my own work and even edit the eBooks after publication. They all started selling straight away and though it’s slow, I’m getting more and more fans all the time, especially children and elderly folks. They seem to like my books too and buy many. I sell many myself to folks in my town and village, plus I donate to libraries and schools, and do Giveaways, but that doesn’t get my ranking up on Amazon, so promoting sales there is my main aim. The best way to do that I’ve found is on Twitter and Goodreads, but I try not to spam folks. I just befriend people and if they want to buy it’s up to them. It’s surprising how many check out blogs, though. I also buy books through Twitter and Goodreads, then back through Amazon.
So do you have a website we can visit? I love the pictures you send me of some of the little creatures you rescue, and I know others would probably enjoy them, too. Being from the U.S., I never even heard of several of them.
Yes, I have a blog, website, YouTube channel, Amazon Author Page, Smashwords, Facebook, and more, but you can find most links on my blog.
My website: http://childrens-books-author-p-puddle.com/
My Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Puddle/e/B004ICUA92
Wow, Patricia, you’re a very busy lady. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share with us today. I wish you the very best of everything in your writing future. You are a very classy lady and I consider myself fortunate to call you friend, even though we have never met face-to-face.
Thank you, too, Melody, for taking time out of your very busy schedule. I truly appreciate it, but I sure hope you’ll let me interview you in return so I can add your wonderful story to my blog, dear friend. I’m so happy we met six years ago, and Michael too. It’s good to keep in touch even though we are all very busy with our writing and families. Oh, and don’t forget to look out for my next Molly Gumnut Book. It’s one you and Michael critiqued many years ago, and you both feature as characters in it. LOL. Though I won’t tell you who you are. I’ll leave you to guess.
Phew! I need chocolate now. Oh, and coffee. Where shall we go, Melody? The doughnut shop? Don’t you dare tell what I did with that box on doughnuts. LOL. Or that when I posted my chapters on AW that I kept frustrating folks because I'd keep editing them again before they had a chance to critique them. Oops, I think you all wanted to strangle me for that, but you still critiqued them, didn’t you?
Ah, Patricia, I will always critique for you. All you have to do is ask.