The Writing Life of: Patricia Furstenberg
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Patricia Furstenberg. Patricia will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘The Cheetah and the Dog‘, which was released on 2nd November 2017, and answering a few fun questions too.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Patricia
Patricia Furstenberg is the author of the Bestseller Joyful Trouble, Based on the True Story of a Dog Enlisted in the Royal Navy.
Patricia enjoys writing for children because she can take abstract, grown-up concepts and package them in a humorous, child-friendly language and attractive pictures, while adding sensitivity and lots of love. She enjoys writing about animals because she believed that each animal has a story to tell, if we only stop to listen.
Patricia lives in sunny South Africa with her husband, children and their dogs.
1) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
Would you believe me if told you that I wanted to become a writer? But in those times, Communist Romania, being a writer was not envisaged as a job that could help you provide for yourself. Moreover, some of the most prominent writers have had a close brush of some kind with the law (again, human rights back then had a different meaning). Thus being a writer, to the teen I was back then, held a bit an outlaw’s aura. Forbidden, yet exciting. A one of a kind, yet out of reach lifestyle.
2) Who were your favourite childhood authors?
Romania has a diverse and rich culture and we do take pride in our roots. Ionel Teodoreanu, Camil Petrescu and Mihai Eminescu were among my favourite local authors; I also enjoyed the classics, Charles Perrault and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry until I met Dame Agatha Christie, my mother being a huge fan. I was 12 years old. Much later and through my own children I discovered and enjoyed Enid Blyton, Dr Seuss.
3) At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
As I grew up I developed a strong desire to be able to provide for myself. In those without a proper degree one was not considered successful. Weather the job fitted you or not.
I finished my Medical Degree and applied myself in the medical field for some years. It was only much later that the need to write metamorphosed, overpowering everything else; I had to follow it.
4) How did you go about following that dream?
Do you remember building a snowman? You start small, the snow fits between your palms, yet through effort and determination you succeed in building the base of the snowman. You have to keep on rolling the snowball around and be consistent. I did the same, I started small.
I wrote each day for an entire year as part of the Write Your Own Christie 2014 Competition. Each month held a deadline for a new chapter so I learned to priorities, to focus and to work under pressure. I wrote because I enjoyed it, yet I had to follow monthly prompts. I was one of the winners.
5) What is your writing day like? Do you aim for a certain amount of pages or words before you stop for the day?
I wake up long before breakfast has to materialize on the table for my school going children in order to have time to write. Then I write again throughout the day, whenever I get the chance. How much at a time?, it depends on that I am working on, but, yes, I do try to set myself goals and try my best not to get up until I have accomplished them.
I don’t like to leave things to the last minute so I would rather work ahead than be late for a deadline.
6) Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did, but it made more sense to use my own name. It is who I am.
7) Do you have any strange habits before starting, or whilst in the midst of writing?
I need a gargantuan amounts of coffee and writing every day gives me peace of mind. When this doesn’t happen for some odd reason I feel irked.
8) Do you write longhand, typewriter, or on a computer?
I usually write on my laptop, but if I am away and I do get some ideas I will type them on my phone (eliminates the need to re-type, thus saving time). Sometimes, if I am not sure of how to approach a scene, picking up pen and paper helps and stimulates the muse.
9) How many books have you written? Do you have any unpublished work?
So far I have written six books and, yes, I do have unpublished work. That’s my present to myself, having unpublished work that’s on the publishing conveyor belt.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a plotter. I need to know, for my own peace of mind, where I am heading and where it will all end. Plotting makes me feel in control of my work.
11) Do you read all the reviews left for your book(s)?
I do try to read my reviews, I LOVE getting reviews. Which author doesn’t? My philosophy is: we are all individuals, let’s agree to disagree.
Concerning your latest book:
Pages – 28
Release Date – 2nd November 2017
ISBN 13 – 978-1973208532
Format – ebook, paperback
When a cheetah cub and a puppy dog bump into each other while chasing the same prey, it is only natural for them to play together until sundown; and the next day; and the following one. The two animals care for each other so much that they even rescue their respective packs, thus becoming an African tale.
Inspired by the true story of Kasi, the orphaned male cheetah, and Mtani, the female Labrador, which struck a remarkable friendship and remained life-long friends, “The Cheetah and the Dog” is a glorious celebration of curiosity, respect for life, and unconventional wisdom, a heart-warming, fun read that belongs on any family’s bedtime shelf.
12) How long did it take you to get from the idea’s stage to your date of publication?
Approximately nine months.
13) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
I tried to keep their names generic as I like to believe that animals, if left to themselves will overcome their differences and surprise us by turning any relationship into a friendship. There is still a lot to learn about animal evolution and how they adapt to a different lifestyle and, who knows, developing such friendships might happen in the future.
14) Can you give us an insight into your main character(s) life?, What makes them tick?
The innate need to have a friend, someone made of flesh and blood to rely on, care for on and have fun with.
15) Which was your hardest scene to write?
I have an optimistic approach to life and I am against any cruelty towards animals. The scenes in which one of my animal characters has to suffer might be it.
16) How did you come up with the title of your book?
The title depicts the pairs of animals portrayed in each story. I thought about a general title, using the indefinite article “a” instead of the definitive “the” as I like to believe that there will be more than one pair of each of these animals to have developed a strong bond. I decided for the categorical “the” as it focuses the reader’s attention onto the character.
17) Did you get a family member/friend to read your work before sending to the publishers?
Yes, my husband and my daughter usually read my work. If it goes past my husband’s sharp eye and my daughter’s teen criticism then I know it stands a chance.
18) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I chose to publish it independently and make it available exclusively through Amazon. All my books are available in eBook and paperback format, some of them in Large Print as well. Large print books accommodate readers with poor vision. There are certain publishing standards that a large print book has to meet and I am following them.
19) What did you do once you had written the final word in your book?
I thought I better start writing something else right away! So I opened a new MS Word document and I began my next book.
20) What’s next for you, writing-wise?
This is such an exciting question! I will keep on writing children’s books as I have far too many ideas to stop, but apart from that I have the plot in place for a… oops, I almost spilled the beans here! I am very excited to try a new path and that’s at the top of my list right now.
1) What’s your favourite food?
Calamari. No, coffee. Oh, you said food; okay, calamari.
2) If you had a box of crayons and you could only choose one, which colour would you choose?
Good, old, trusty blue; cobalt blue.
3) What movie could you watch over and over again?
“Gilmore Girls”. It is funny and witty and those girls can read!
4) What would be the top song on your playlist?
Debussi’s “Claire de Lune”
5) If you won millions on the lottery, what would be your first purchase?
Airplane tickets to Romania.
6) A talking duck walks into your room wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, whats the first thing he says to you?
“Do you have coffee?”
You can find out more about Patricia by visiting the website/social media sites below.
I would like to say a big thank you to Patricia Furstenberg for sharing with us details of her writing life, and for a wonderful interview.