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Interview: Pat Backley talks about Dot & Ben

Pat Backley is an English woman who, at the age of 59, decided to become a Kiwi and she now lives in Auckland. Passionate about people and travelling the world, she has spent the last 73 years living a colourful and interesting life and her books reflect these passions.

She published her first book DAISY in late 2020, just before her 70th birthday, and now she can’t stop writing! She has published eight books and contributed to several anthologies, as well as writing articles and short stories for various magazines and has several more books in the pipeline. Pat talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about your novel.

DOT & BEN is fictional, but based on my parents lives. The photos on the cover are them, aged 19, serving in WW2. Their story, set mostly in London, spans from the tumultuous 1920’s through WW2 and beyond, as their love weathers the storms of history in this poignant tale of resilience and romance.


What inspired you to write this book?

Having already published two historical fiction books (the DAISY series) I realised that researching history and writing about the lives of ordinary people, was my passion, so I decided to write my own ancestors stories. This novel, DOT & BEN is the third one in my ANCESTORS series. 

What research was involved?

Fortunately I already knew a lot about my parents lives and after they died I found lots of interesting documents and photos, letters and cards, which helped enormously.

Because they had both told many stories and anecdotes about their early years, I was able to piece these together, linking them to historical events. Almost everything in the book is entirely true, but I really wish they had still been alive, so I could have pestered them with questions!


What was your routine or process when writing this book?

I found this an incredibly difficult book to write. It was very emotional and I found myself crying most days. It is one thing to know your parents story, but another thing to actually live life through their shoes for a while.


If a soundtrack were made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Air on the G String by J.S. Bach, one of my mum’s favourite pieces of music!

And probably an old song from WW2.


If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Hard to imagine anyone but my mum and dad playing them. I will make that decision once I sell movie rights!


What did you enjoy most about writing this novel?

Bringing my parents back to life and learning more about the times they lived through and how they both coped. Realising that they were not just my mum and dad, but individuals who had seen many aspects of life and times that no longer exist.


What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

Sat in the sunshine with a glass of red wine and had a good old cry!


What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

I have read some great books this year, my reading tastes are very eclectic, but here are a few favourites:

A Respectable Veneer by Rachel Dore.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haigh.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Brutally Honest by Melanie Brown

Made In China by Anna Qu.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

Having started my author career so late in life (just before my 70th birthday) I now can’t seem to stop writing. I have two new books partly written, regularly contribute short stories and articles to magazines, and will continue to do book talks and be interviewed on podcasts whenever I am invited! I love my new author career… sitting around being bored for me!


Discover more about Pat on her website:


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