Wednesday’s Author Interview: Meet P. S. Bartlett
Fireflies by P. S. Bartlett
Today, I’m happy to welcome Irish historical fiction author P. S. (Peggy) Bartlett to Bookin’ It. Peggy would you start by telling us a bit about how you became a writer. When did you decide that’s what you wanted to be, and what steps did you take to prepare for a writing career?
PSB: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I didn’t start out in life wanting to be a writer though. Writing came to me gradually. Writing appeared slowly like a fog rolling in but a fog that carried thoughts and characters and stories. I was originally focused on my art. I’ve been drawing longer than I’ve been writing. My art evolved until those imaginary images came to life with words as well as pictures. I wrote and illustrated my own little books out of construction paper. My handwriting wasn’t the best but I’d practice lettering and copy the text in children’s books until I was content with my work.
As time went on, I wrote little one or two act plays for school. My interests changed as all children’s do but my writing was always there. I would write in my little pink diary almost every night. I often wonder whatever happened to it. I kept journals and always scored high on essays and creative writing in school. I enjoyed writing letters and poetry too. Maybe someday I’ll dig some out and publish them as well.
As for my writing career, well, I’m still working on that. I published my first novel in the spring of 2013, after having waited over half a lifetime to finally follow my heart and set my goals. I married, raised my children and worked sometimes two jobs just to stay afloat but what I didn’t realize at the time was that I was learning.
Living is writing.
Writing is the result of living.
I believe I timed this perfectly.
BI: As someone who started writing very late in life, I couldn’t agree more. Now is the time! Were you inspired by any particular authors, past or present, and what is it about their work that impresses you, or moves you?
PSB: There are a few who’ve inspired me but none like William Shakespeare. I fell in love with his writing in high school. Of course, before him was Stephen King. When I wrapped my hands around Carrie, I was hooked. I’d wait for his books to hit the shelves and more often than not, I spent every dime of my allowance money on them—and film and art supplies. Last but not least, the very first novel I ever read cover to cover was To Kill a Mockingbird. I like to think that there’s a little bit of every book I’ve read in my writing which is such a blessing because that means I’m still growing as a writer.
BI: That’s quite a spread…Shakespeare to King to Harper Lee. And something to be learned from all of them. What genres do you read most often for pleasure, now…those books you gravitate toward the minute you walk into a bookstore?
PSB: Definitely historical fiction is my go to genre. I’m currently reading Outlander and am in love with the story. As a teen, as I mentioned above, I loved horror and suspense. I remember reading Benchley’s Jaws long before the movie came out and imagining what an amazing movie it would make. ‘Salem’s Lot kept me awake all night long and I read almost the entirety of The Amityville Horror to my friend Laura over the phone one night. I was beginning to wonder if all books were made into movies until I read To Kill a Mockingbird and East of Eden. I wondered why they hadn’t made them into movies and asked my mother who kindly told me how old those books were and that yes, they had in fact made them into movies. Unfortunately for me though, VCR’s hadn’t been invented yet and they were no longer in theaters. I’ve gone off topic. I hope you don’t mind.
BI: Not a bit. I see we have read a lot of the same books over the years, too, though I have to say, I’m old enough that I saw both East of Eden and To Kill a Mockingbird in the theaters! Ha! On to another topic, though. I’d like to know if you have a dedicated workspace, and are you consistent with the amount of time you spend writing each day?
PSB: My living room sofa has two recliners built into it. My work space is the recliner on the right with my computer on my lap. That’s where I am right now as I write this. I dedicate at least five nights a week to writing. Whether I’m blogging or working on a novel, that’s where I am. I still work full time unfortunately, so my writing time is limited. I am lucky in that I have a very understanding family. They know how much this means to me so they allow me to spend hours and hours per week in this spot. I strive for at least 1,000 words per night but I don’t force myself to do it. Sometimes I write several thousand wonderful words and sometimes only a few. Why force yourself to write 1,000 words of crap just to hit a number? If you’re not feeling inspired or as if you’ll explode with ideas, what’s the point?
BI: Good point, but I’m just thinking that a great title for a book would be The Recliner on the Right. I’ll bet you could do something with that! Do you use visual aids, like Inspiration Boards/Photos or maps of your book’s setting? What reference books or other material do you consult most frequently as you write?
PSB: Speaking only for the three full novels I’ve written, I purchase reference books and have had some given to me as gifts. I also use historical documents I have found online and other web sites to do my research. I don’t have any special inspirational things though.
BI: It’s interesting how we all approach our work differently. How about your actual writing process? When you have an idea for a new book, do you sit down and start typing, or do you start with an outline, and figure out all the major plot points first? In other words, is your working style structured and organized, or more organic and free flowing?
PSB: I usually write a loose outline of what I need to move the story along. Unfortunately, my characters often run wild outside of my outline boundaries. I’m usually thankful they do!
BI: Mine keep me up at night, chattering into my ear as I’m trying to sleep, so I know what you mean. Peggy, do you prefer reading eBooks, or print? Why?
PSB: Either is fine. The worst that can happen with eBooks is the battery on my iPad dies or someone else is using it when I feel like reading. I have so many hard copy books though that I always have something to read. I buy both and my choice is usually based on my pocketbook at the moment.
BI: Time to talk specifics. Tell us about the books have you published, and where we can buy them.
PSB: My first book, Fireflies, was published in the spring of 2013 and my second, which is the prequel to Fireflies,” is Hope from the Ocean, which was published in the spring of this year. They can be found online where most eBooks are sold and also in paperback from Amazon. I was recently thrilled to learn that Fireflies is a finalist in two categories in the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Contest. Wish me luck.
BI: Congratulations on that! And I definitely wish you luck. Are you currently working on a new book? When do you expect it to be available?
PSB: I finished my third novel about a month ago. It’s already been through two rounds of edits but I’m saving up to have it professionally proofread and edited. I’m overprotective of my writing as far as content editing is concerned. I suppose that is part of the process and something I need to deal with but to me it’s the worst part of publishing. I’m always afraid of losing my voice. My hope was for this book to be ready to publish in September of this year but unless the money falls from the sky or I suddenly hit the best seller lists with my first two books, I’m in limbo.
I love this story too. Think Pirates of the Caribbean meets Charlie’s Angels. It’s full of adventure, humor, love, romance and girl power. It is historical fiction as well.
BI: I think it’s often hard to find an affordable editor you trust, and who works with your specific needs and wants in mind. I feel the same way you do, I suspect. Good luck with the limbo situation. Hope you are able to move forward soon. Now, I’d like to know what you think is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
PSB: To name a few, I’ll start with documenting my imagination. When these characters and their amazing stories get into my head, they must come out. To be able to create worlds and breathe life into characters is like magic. Secondly, the feedback is like a drug. When people read your books and you are able to touch them in some way and then get the honor of having them tell you how much your story means to them—that’s magic too.
BI: Very well put. Now the worst?
PSB: The worst part of being an author is having to spend so much time marketing your books. I’ve found though that when I’m doing it right, I find some amazing people out there on Twitter, Facebook and WordPress willing to help. Other authors and writers are some of the most generous people you will ever meet. There have been a few stinkers but I prefer to focus on those who always reach out and lift you up. Book bloggers, book lovers and avid readers in general are so supportive and like you Marcia, they are so generous with their time. I’d like to say thank you to every book blogger, reviewer and fellow author who has ever invited me in for a chat and shared their experiences with me.
BI: I agree with you on the marketing thing, 100%. It’s difficult to balance the time needed to do a good job of it with the time you want to spend writing. I haven’t worked it out, yet, but like you, I’ve met some wonderful and supportive people online.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us today, Peggy. I hope you’ll let us know when your new book becomes a reality, and I can’t wait to read Fireflies and Hope from the Ocean, myself. After reading about them on amazon, I’m really intrigued.
P. S. Bartlett
I was born on Valentine’s Day a long, long time ago in South Baltimore, Maryland, less than a mile from Fort McHenry and Federal Hill. I’m a very simple person. I love my life and am always striving to make it better for myself and my family.
I write, I draw and I still work full-time. I’ve been married for 20 years and together we have two sons, a daughter, three beautiful granddaughters and a nine year old Maine Coon cat named Columbus.
P. S. Bartlett on Social Media
Check out P. S. Bartlett’s books on Amazon, here: