Pat Backley is an English woman who emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 59. Her first book Daisy, a historical family saga novel, was written and published during lockdown in 2020. Since then, she has also published her memoirs From There to Here, With an Awful Lot in Between and has co-authored a best-selling coffee table book The Warrior Women Project: A Sisterhood of Immigrant Women. She has also published The Second Daisy. In 2022 Pat published Seventy Years’ Worth of Travel, a travel memoir, and the novel, Valentine George. She was also invited to include short stories in the anthology, Relatable Voices: A Drive to Make People Smile. Pat talks to NZ Booklovers.
Could you tell us a little about The Abandoned Wives Handbook?
It is a small, pocket sized book, written to help women overcome this traumatic event in their lives. I purposely made it small so it would fit into a handbag or pocket and could be dipped into as often as needed!
Although it covers a very serious topic, I wanted it to be a light-hearted read, so designed it like a dictionary. A dictionary of distress.
What inspired you to write this book?
I became an abandoned wife myself, after 26 years of marriage.
It took me a long time to recover and this was certainly not a book I ever intended writing, but a few months ago I woke up in the middle of the night and realised I needed to be brave and write it. I decided that if it helped just one woman it was worth the pain of digging up all those feelings.
What research was involved?
No research necessary, just dragging up all those horrible memories!
What was your routine or process writing this book?
Having decided to write the book, I just got on with it before I could chicken out and change my mind!
It was hard, lots of tears were involved as I recalled those dark days, but I forced myself to just sit at my desk and type.
The timing wasn’t great, as I was already in the middle of writing another novel, but somehow I managed to get the two finished whilst I was travelling at Christmas in France and Morocco and they are now both published.
How do you think this book will help other women?
I am delighted that it already seems to be helping people.
I have had several nice reviews and emails, from women who say things like “It is so good to feel understood at last” and “This little book will help so many people, not just abandoned wives, but anyone who has been dumped.” I even got one review from a man who said, “I would encourage men to read this book. Even single men who date, do not understand the impact they can have from their own behaviour towards women.”
If a soundtrack were made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
Flowers by Miley Cyrus and, of course, I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor.
What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?
Had a glass of wine and some chocolate!
What is your favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
I am an avid reader and have read dozens of books already this year.
It is very hard to single out just one, so a few standouts are:
The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku, Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie and an old favourite I just re-read for about the 10th time, Miss Garnets Angel by Sally Vickers.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I am currently working on two more books for my Ancestors series and a book of short stories. I have several interviews and speaking engagements coming up and will be co-hosting a virtual book fair in the States later this year. I did this last year and it was such a great way to meet lots of fabulous writers. My life has become much more interesting since I became an author!