Shirley tells her story on becoming a published author

Welcome back to the first I’m An Adviser of 2020. Earlier this month, we had a great chat with Shirley Hook-Pattison, financial adviser and three times published author.  

IAA: Shirley, can you tell us how this all began?

SHP: Several years ago, I was attending a female only networking event where you had to break off into pairs and I happened to be paired with a writing coach. Now, I’ve been an avid reader my whole life and I always thought, deep down, that I’d like to write a book, but I never really knew how or where to start.

Although, part of me thinks that is the place to start – you need to be a reader to be writer. So, I decided to start working with this coach to see if I could write my first book.

IAA: What was the first thing you did?

SHP: It was actually to come up with my writing name. I knew I didn’t want to use my real name in case people searching for me online saw I was an adviser and a writer. I didn’t want to split their focus, and have them think I wasn’t particularly good at either thing, so I decided to use Antonia Abbott.

Abbott was my mother’s maiden name and, had I been a boy, she always said she would have called me Anthony and so I decided to use Antonia. A happy coincidence that I never considered is that the name appears top of the list.

IAA: What made you leap from a single book to a trilogy, or what that always the plan?

SHP: I was working with my writing coach and she said, ‘you know this really needs to start coming to an end’ which is when I realised I had so much more planned for these characters. I told my coach that I would like to write two books and she replied that a trilogy would be better, so that’s what I did.

IAA: There’s certainly a lot of fans who would like to see more from this trilogy, do you have anything planned?

SHP: I do have another instalment with these characters half written, but at this stage it’s not a complete book. I’ve revisited it a few times, but it still hasn’t come together. And, I need to revisit all my previous books to make sure everything ties up which is a real pet peeve I have when reading for pleasure, if things aren’t absolutely right.

It’s just finding the time to commit to my characters who I know and love. It does almost feel like a game with them at the same time – it’s fun to move them into different situations.

IAA: Do you have any other stories you’d like to publish?

SHP: I think it’s a possibility, but again it comes down to time. Perhaps when I retire, I can focus on developing another book. Although, the first holiday I took after the books where published was so liberating as it was the first time in over a year that I was reading for pleasure rather than furiously typing away.

I think there needs to be a balance in my time so that I continue to enjoy writing.

IAA: Are any of the events in your books based on things that have happened to you, or people you know?

SHP: When it comes to developing these stories, I believe you must write from a place of strength and so, for this trilogy, I know the geographical area very well and that was a big influence. And, if I were to step out in another direction, it would need to be grounded somewhat in reality.

Some of my characters have holidayed where my husband and I have been. In fact, one year there was a fire where we were staying and that made its way into the book – it was very dramatic, and I was confident in writing it as I’d already lived through it.

IAA: How does it feel being a published author?

SHP: I absolutely knew I had to be published. I didn’t want to self-publish which I know a lot of people do, as any fool can publish absolutely anything.  Truth be told, I’m not even sure how to go about doing that or how expensive it would be.

Being published for me feels like an achievement and it shows that someone believes in my work. Really, having a writing coach was as much about having someone believe in me as it was going through the process of developing the plots, which were all written without input from anyone else.

Thank you, Shirley, for taking the time to talk to I’m An Adviser. You can buy the complete Emotions trilogy online now and we hope to see your new book on the shelves very soon!

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