Saturday, 25 April 2015

Interview with Patsy Collins

Today I’m pleased to welcome Patsy Collins onto my blog. Patsy Collins is a novelist and short story writer. More than 300 of her short stories have been published in magazines in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Australia and South Africa. She's also written three novels, Escape To The Country, Paint Me A Picture and A Year And A Day.

I asked Patsy some questions about her new collection of 24 short stories, Over the Garden Fence.

Patsy – were these stories all previously published in magazines or written specially?

Both. As I intend to produce a whole series of these books I deliberately write quite a lot of stories set in gardens or otherwise involving plants. Most have been published in magazines or placed in competitions, though a few are shiny and new.

You’ve cited gardens and gardeners as one source of inspiration – where else do you get ideas? (What a pity ideas can’t be grown from seed like flowers and veg!)

Pretty much anywhere I don't have the means to make a note. Sitting in front of the computer doesn't seem to do it. I need to be digging, or cycling, or baking a cake. One minute I'm wondering if I should sow more lettuce, the next I'm wondering how an imaginary person is going to get out of the mess I've managed to think them in to.

Actually, I think ideas do grow like seeds. We start with a character, or a situation or a setting we'd like to use. That's the seed. If we just leave it there nothing happens, but if we write it down it has the chance to grow. We feed and water it with other story elements until it's flourishing. Then sometimes we have to prune them back!

Gardens/flowers are the backdrop to this collection – but definitely not in a sentimental, roses-round-the-door way. How do you decide that you want, for example, to write a story set in the future, or one that involves magic/black magic?

I don't know. Usually I write about characters who're fairly normal people in contemporary, realistic settings. They might have problems but by the end of the story they've resolved them, or found a way round them and everything ends happily. Sometimes they just won't go like that.

Do you prefer writing short stories or novels?

When a novel is going well I prefer that. When I have an idea I love for a short story then that's what I most want to write.

Which part of the process do you like best – the writing or the editing?

Second draft. At that stage there's plenty to work with, I know where I'm going and I can't help but make it better.

Do you have a writing routine?

Nope! I do write (or edit or some other writerly task) most days and tend to do most of the creative stuff in the morning, but I'm easily distracted. We travel a lot and I sometimes work with my husband, so a fixed routine wouldn't really work even if I was capable of sticking to it.

Thank you for answering my questions, Patsy.

Thanks for inviting me over, Kate. Pleasure to chat to you.

As Patsy says, gardens, plants and people all have their stories. Lean over her garden fence and she'll tell you a few …

Patsy blogs at http://patsy-collins.blogspot.co.uk/ (a mix of interesting words and free-to-enter writing competitions). She has also recently (2015) taken over the popular blog http://womagwriter.blogspot.co.uk/

Buy Over the Garden Fence here.


  1. Great interview, both and I must get that book for my collection.

  2. Lovely interview and I love the way you use gardening as inspiration for your stories, Patsy!

    1. Thanks, Rosemary. To me it makes sense to write about things I'm interested in - if I'm not, then I can't expect the reader to be either.