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My First Time...with Anne Patterson

Anne Patterson is from County Antrim. She lives in London and works for the NHS.

Anne is reading from her superb debut novel Yes at The Riff Raff on Thursday 10th May.

Here's the blurb for Yes...

'Maureen McCormack wakes up in hospital after a stroke.

Her memory is fragmented and she can say only one word – yes. Friends, family and lovers visit her, filling silences with secrets and learning to open up as Maureen learns to listen.

As the revelations mount, she and those around her attempt to come to terms with all that has been left unsaid and unexamined, and her view of life shifts fundamentally.

When Maureen’s ability to speak returns she decides to keep it a secret until she has made sense of her past and gathered the strength to shape her future.'

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?

Last century! There wasn’t an exact moment … I had started a few bits of writing while I was a student nurse back in the Eighties which I went back to.

I’ve always been interested in the patient experience – what it’s like for people to talk over you or about you as if you aren’t even there.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your first book?

Simplify your life. Have boundaries.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

Cups of tea with friends and tidying.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?

I’m not one for tantrums but …when the editor suggested cutting what she called ‘Belfastisms’ out of it, I protested.

Best thing about writing your book?

Finishing it. Opening the box when the first copies arrived. I enjoyed and continue to enjoy being in a very supportive writing group And the worst?

At times it seemed very hard to make time for it and I thought I’d never get to the end.

Go-to writing snacks?

Bread pudding from Greggs – there’s one at the end of my road.

Yes by Anne Patterson, The Riff Raff

Who or what inspires you to write?

Loving a good story and great Irish writers – Colm Tóibin, Anne Enright, Brian Moore, Maggie O’Farrell, Bernard McLaverty.

The book that changed you?

As I writer, I think the old favourite The Artist's Way helped me look at all the barriers I had to writing and to understand how important it is to nourish the creative part of yourself.

I work in the NHS. It’s not easy for me to come home from work and switch into writer mode. The Artist’s Way has a very practical ‘workbook’ approach which appeals to me. I revisit it from time to time. It reminds me that I should see plays, walk in the park as well as repaint the bathroom ceiling

Your pump up song?

There’s not really a song but I have a writing tee-shirt – a Christmas present from my daughter that says: 'Be careful or I’ll put you in my novel'.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?

Elif Shafak. She is compassionate and sound on human rights, gay rights and feminism. She’s a great speaker. I’ve heard her interviewed and her answers sound almost like poetry.

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get published?

Have a publication date at the beginning of the year so you have more of a chance in competitions or end of year favourite lists in magazines.

Make friends with book bloggers long before you need them and be kind and generous to other writers.


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