Our Writer Of The Week is Patricia Galvan. Patricia’s story, “After The Air Raid”, appears in the June 6 issue of “The People’s Friend”.
In “After The Air Raid”, there’s humour amid adversity. Due to the background of the Blitz, was it important to you to highlight the strength of the human spirit?
“After The Air Raid” is the result of reading lots of first-hand accounts by men and women about their Blitz experiences. What impressed me time and again was the collective determination to stand firm and keep cheerful.
One of the characters in my story is based on my father, George, a Quaker, and a driver in the Friends’ Ambulance Unit. He was very badly injured when the ambulance he was driving hit a landmine.
Despite it all, his letters to my mother show that he and his fellow patients remained stubbornly undaunted, and keen to get back to the front line — an attitude to inspire us in these demanding times.
Does the subject matter of a story have to resonate with you before you can write about it?
I’ve tried writing a few stories based on the sort of cosy, light-hearted themes I thought would prove popular with readers, but the end result was writing that came across as superficial and insincere.
“You’ve got to write the story you want to read.” I don’t know who first said this, but it’s my mantra now.
Do you think writers should experiment writing different genres, or do you think it’s better to play to your strengths?
I’m totally in awe of authors like J.K. Rowling who are able to write in different genres but, speaking as a dilettante, I don’t have the confidence to experiment with styles.
I would suggest that anyone who, like me, is still developing their “writing voice” to concentrate on perfecting their skills in the genre they find most comfortable.
For you, is writing more about mood or discipline?
If I waited to be “in the mood” to write, I’d be facing a blank screen till the cows come home!
Self-discipline is the key. It gets easier the more you stick at it — promise!
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I always have my trusty notebook close to hand.
It’s vital I get my ideas down on paper; I tend to forget them otherwise. The laptop sits on a battered old desk in front of a blank wall — no distractions for me.
Apart from whenever our cat, Flo, decides it’s her turn to have a go on the keyboard!
P.S., What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Two top tips if I may: find a writers’ group either locally or online where you can give and receive useful feedback on one another’s work.
And there is no such thing as writer’s block. So force yourself to write something every day — no matter what — and you’ll soon get those creative juices flowing.
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