Thursday, June 27, 2024

Q&A with Phaedra Patrick


Photo by Samral Photography



Phaedra Patrick is the author of the new novel The Year of What If. Her other novels include The Little Italian Hotel. She lives in Saddleworth, UK.


Q: What inspired you to write The Year of What If, and how did you create your character Carla?


A: I wanted to explore the idea of a highly superstitious family whose female members believe in a longtime curse on their romantic relationships.


My lead character, Carla Carter, is more practical and thinks people can find their perfect partner more scientifically, so has set up a dating agency called Logical Love. It’s how she matched with her fiancé, Tom, and Carla’s looking forward to their wedding day.


However, when Carla’s family drag her to see a fortune teller, the tarot cards reveal her true happiness lies with someone from her past instead. So, Carla sets off on a journey across Europe to revisit all the men she dated during her gap year from university, 21 years ago, before she walks down the aisle with Tom.


I’ve always been fascinated by fortune tellers and tarot cards, and whether they can actually predict the future or not. It was interesting to research clairvoyants and curses, and to discover there was a spiritualist revival after the end of World War I, with many people turning to mediums in an attempt to contact loved ones lost in the war.


I love travelling in Europe, especially the sunshine and food, and I wanted to write something warm, interesting, fun, and intriguing. All these various elements came together to form my idea for The Year of What If.


Q: What do you think the novel says about family superstitions?


A: Every family is different and it’s interesting where superstitions and stories originate from and how they pass along generations. Superstitions can be both positive or negative, and the ones within Carla’s family have reached the point where they are rather stifling.


When Carla eventually unravels the mystery of her family curse, her relatives’ romantic partnerships should improve from then on!

Q: The writer Christina Lauren said of the book, “Anyone with a meddling family and too many exes will feel right at home in Phaedra Patrick’s The Year of What If, an escapist romp that offers it all: a European vacation, an unsolved mystery, and a whole lot of love.” What do you think of that description?


A: It was an honour that Christina Lauren read and quoted for my book! I think it’s a fun blurb that really gets to the heart of the story. I feel proud the quote is on the front cover of the book.


Q: Your character Carla journeys to many scenic European locales--did you go to all of them in the course of your research?


A: I’m fortunate to have visited the majority of the locations Carla travels to in the book.


Barcelona is a favourite city of mine and I holidayed there last year. It helped me to capture the atmosphere of bustling Catalonia on the page. I love the vintage shops, amazing architecture by Antoni Gaudi, the huge flea market and how the city has a beach because it’s right next to the sea.


I’ve also previously been to Paris, Portugal, Amsterdam, and Girona. However, Blanca del Mar was a Spanish town on the Costa Brava that I created specifically for the book, and Carla’s visit to Sardinia was a late addition. It was the only place I haven’t visited, but it looks so beautiful in photographs I hope to go there one day.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m around 25 percent of the way into writing my eighth novel and am still finding my way. The first part of my books always take time to get going, because I need to learn about my lead character and their motivations. All I can say about the plot is that I’m trying to imagine what life would be like living inside a coffee commercial!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: For those readers who ask if there’ll ever be a film of my debut novel, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, the book is still under option in Hollywood and a script is in progress. These things take a long time and might not even come to fruition, but I have my fingers crossed.


Likewise, the TV/film rights for my sixth novel, The Little Italian Hotel, have been snapped up by a European production company.


In the meantime, Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone (based on my second novel) is now available to watch on Amazon Prime.


For up-to-date news, please follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or check out my website


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Phaedra Patrick.

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