Phaedra qualified firstly as a stained glass artist before gaining her professional Marketing qualifications. She has worked as a waitress, stained glass designer, film festival organiser and communications manager.
She enjoyed her first real writing success when she entered and won several short story competitions, and she now writes full time.
Phaedra lives in Saddleworth, UK, with her husband and son, where she enjoys walking, eating chocolate, and arts and crafts. Her idea for The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper emerged as she showed her own childhood charm bracelet to her young son and told him the stories behind each of the charms.
Phaedra is represented by Clare Wallace at Darley Anderson Literary, Film & TV Agency
A FEW QUESTIONS
I thought of the story while showing my son my own childhood charm bracelet, and told him the stories behind each of the charms. I wanted to write something that was heartfelt and to produce a character that people would want to cheer, encourage and cry with. I was also determined that my book should have a tiger in it!
How long did it take to write?
Around 18 months. I was actually working on three books, not sure which to focus on. I kept writing all three until one came forward, and that was The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.
Is The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper the first book you’ve written?
No!! You read these stories about someone who put pen to paper and got snapped up first time round? Well that is not me. I’ve probably written around seven novels in total but Curious Charms is my first to be published. It’s most definitely the book that I wanted to write and I’m glad success came with this one rather than the others.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on my first draft of Book 2, ready to deliver to my publisher by the end of February 2016. You know when people have babies and say they had very different pregnancies? Well, I feel like this about Book 2. It’s been wonderful writing it, but I had to find a totally different routine, after leaving my communications job, in June 2015.
Where is your name from?
My first name is Greek, though I have no Greek ancestry or relations at all! It’s pronounced ‘Fedra,’ though often people pronounce it as ‘Faydra.’ I answer to both, but prefer it with the flat ‘e’ as in ‘egg’.
When and where do you write?
I wrote Curious Charms when and wherever I could, by long-hand. I used to think about the story on my walk to the station in the morning. Then, as I waited for the train, I scribbled down notes. When the train arrived I wrote on my journey into work and then back again. I took each Friday off to write and typed up my story then. It was nice not having to face a blank computer screen because I already had words written down!
Working on Book 2 has been very different as I now write full-time. I drop my son at school in the morning, go for a walk to blow away the cobwebs, then set down to work at around 9.30am. I work solidly until 12ish, disturbed only by my very hungry, very old, blind cat. I then start again at 1.00pm and go through until 4.00pm. I always plan to work a full five-day week but then find myself doing the supermarket shop, meeting a friend for lunch, tidying up etc. It’s hard not to be distracted when you work in your own dining room!
Who is your favourite writer?
I don’t have one favourite writer. I always look out for, and read, books by Lucy Clarke, Sarah Addison-Allen, Dan Rhodes and Antoine Laurain. I have recently read, and enjoyed, Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris and The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. I’m an avid reader of book reviews and blurbs on the back covers of books, to make a mental note of what I fancy to read next.
Finally, any words of advice for aspiring writers?
Write when you can – while you’re waiting for your bath to run, for ten minutes before you go to sleep, on a train journey…just get your words and ideas down. You’ll find that they really mount up. Then, when you do get more time, you can type it all up. No-one will wave a magic wand and give you more time – you have to find your own. You can read my writing tips and advice here.