Phaedra Patrick is the author of the new novel Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone. The main character runs a jewelry shop in a small English village. Patrick also has written the novel The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper. She has worked as a stained-glass artist, film festival organizer, and communications manager, and she lives in Saddleworth, UK.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your character Benedict, and why did you choose gemstones as a focus for your new novel?
A: I was always aware, as a child, that each month of the year has a gemstone connected to it. My birth month is August, so my stone is a Peridot and I used to be a little jealous that other months had (what I thought were) more glamorous gems, such as Garnet, Amethyst and Emerald.
When I got engaged I chose a silver ring with a Peridot and decided to find out more about the gem. Peridots are supposedly good for easing tension, stress and anxiety in relationships – quite a good thing before getting married! I wanted to find out more about other gemstones so I started to read about those too.
I thought that Benedict would make a good character to take on a journey of discovery. He’s a large man, a jeweller, and stuck in a rut, so the gemstones in the book help to make his life sparkle again.
Q: The novel takes place in an English village called Noon Sun, which is almost like another character in the book. How important is setting to you in your writing?
A: If you’re going to spend months writing a novel then you should spend it somewhere that you enjoy, that you look forward to visiting in your head each day!
Noon Sun is based on my own village, which is surrounded by rolling fields and beautiful scenery. When my editor commissioned the cover art for the book, I sent her photographs of where I live, which influenced the beautiful design.
Q: How would you describe the relationship between Benedict and his niece, Gemma?
A: At first it’s very strained. Benedict doesn’t want a teenager moving in with him for the summer, especially as he’s trying to persuade his wife to come home, after she’s moved out. And I think for Gemma, Benedict’s house is a convenience, a place to escape to.
But then, when Benedict and Gemma discover an old gemstone journal together, they begin to communicate and find that they can help each other more than they know. Benedict needs the challenge of making changes to his life, and Gemma needs the stability, support and family life that her uncle can offer her.
Q: As you researched gemstones, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?
A: What surprised me most was how far widespread the folklore and stories behind gemstones is. Each country and culture probably has some connection to them, whether that’s people wearing them in jewellery, or finding deeper meaning behind the stones.
I like the idea that Blue Lace Agate can help people to start afresh, bring peace, love and understanding…and that it’s an excellent stone which helps writers to develop inspired ideas. Always useful!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’ve started to write book three. My main character is a lady this time. She’s a librarian who receives a mysterious book from her grandmother, who she thought was dead…but I can’t say more than that, as at this stage as I’m not sure myself.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I’d like to thank readers, bloggers and journalists in the U.S. and Canada for their response to my books.
Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone was selected for the Indie Next List June 2017, and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is on the Indie Next Summer Reading List. I receive some lovely tweets and Facebook messages, and I really appreciate the support!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. For a previous Q&A with Phaedra Patrick, please click here.