World of Words: Writer Patricia Stoner tells us about her creative career

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AFTER a career as a publicist and copyrighter, Patricia Stoner, pictured right, now retired, has turned to creative writing. Along with writing books now sold on Kindle, she has written poetry book, Paws and Whiskers, to raise money for charity. Her short stories and poems have been published extensively.

In no more than 10 words why do you write?

It’s a wonderful excuse for not doing the housework.

What prompted you to become a writer in the first place?

I can never remember a time when I didn’t write. I loved to read as a child and if I thought a book’s ending wasn’t satisfying I’d write an alternative.

How did you get your first proper opportunity?

I decided when I was at university that I wanted to be a journalist and I was lucky enough to be offered a graduate trainee post with the Liverpool Daily Post. I quickly found out that I was an awful reporter: if someone I was trying to interview said ‘go away’ I went away. But then I moved to the features department and discovered I really enjoyed writing about people. Although I did once do a five-page supplement on scrap metal...

What’s the worst thing about being a writer?

Telling people ‘I’m a writer’. It feels like showing off. Also, the hard work: I’m essentially lazy and sometimes even the ironing seems preferable to sitting down at my computer in front of a blank screen. People have said that being a writer is lonely, but I get a lot of support from my writing group. Also, my husband is working on a series of novels, so we kind of ‘get’ each other.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The sheer joy of getting the right words in the right place. Sometimes I’ll struggle with something for ages and it simply won’t come right. So I walk away, and when I come back to it later the words just fall into place. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Of what are you most proud?

When you get compliments from friends, it’s lovely, but somehow you don’t quite believe it. If I hear from a total stranger that they

have read something of mine and enjoyed it, that makes me feel proud.

Can you name a book or play or poem that changed your life?

Do books really change lives? I’d say that growing up in a family which valued plays, books and poetry was the important thing. Even if I hadn’t been able to write myself, I would still have the joy of reading and seeing plays.

What do you think is the secret to being a good writer?

Never being totally satisfied with what you have written. I’m an inveterate polisher, and every time I read something of mine I think of ways I could have written it better. You also have to be ready to accept constructive criticism, even though it sometimes hurts.

What are you reading at the moment?

A completely daft comedy for the radio.

What are you most looking forward to about the future?

I aim to be sitting here a year from now saying “Good woman, you wrote every day for a year. Now you can dig the garden with a clear conscience.” Gardening is far too seductive.

What are you working on next?

When I was living in France I wrote a column for ‘French Property News’: humorous pieces about life as an ex-pat. Now I’m fictionalising the collection and trying to shape it into an anecdotal kind of novel. My central characters are an Englishman and his French wife (and their dog, Useless), who visit her father in a small town in the Languedoc, and then decide to buy a house there.