Posted by admin on Jan 16th, 2008
Jan 16

A Glimpse Into a Well Known Author’s Life:

     Hello there. Thanks for dropping in for a browse-round. Perhaps a little bit about me would pique your interest in my books? I spent my childhood years in an eccentric, chaotic environment which guaranteed a titillation of the senses. I absorbed information and history through the vibrant lifestyles and memories of my grandmother, mother, father and a plethora of interesting people that lived in the area. I was surrounded by books, music and stimulating conversation. I was allowed to read any book that piqued my attention, no questions asked.
    Mother, who could turn a loaf of bread and a tin of sardines into a meal for twenty, was a down-to-earth, sensible person with a wonderful sense of humour. She was the backbone of the household and had direct links to both Sir Walter Scott and a passenger on the Mayflower. On the other hand, Dad was one of the most eccentric individuals I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. He was born in Canada to parents of Italian heritage and prided himself on being an original back-to-the-lander even though his land was only two acres at the edge of the village. He dabbled in greenhouses, an orchard, beekeeping . . . all the while working full time at a factory job to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads – barely.
  Dad’s maternal grandfather worked on the Eiffel Tower in France before immigrating to Wellington County, Ontario. My paternal grandfather, Charlie Mattaini, designed and built many of the beautiful bowstring bridges seen throughout Wellington, Grey, Dufferin and Bruce counties in Ontario. My paternal grandmother, who lived next door, was the only grandparent that I knew. She was passionate about life, an excellent seamstress and an astute business woman, at a time when the words business and woman weren’t thought of in the same sentence. Among other enterprises, she ran a boarding house through which a large number of immigrants passed, each with an interesting story to tell.
  I found that history, as taught in school, was boring but I revelled in the anecdotal/folkloric variety heard around the dining room table. I was, and still am, an avid, fast and retentive reader. I did have a great high school English teacher, and mentor, Miss Amy Yourex, who boarded with Grandmother. My learning included attendance at grade and high schools and a stint at a business college where I admit that I went more to learn how to type – fast – then for any other reason.
  I’ve never lived more than a mile from my childhood home. As a sweet young thing, I married Ted Mestern, and shortly thereafter moved into a heritage 1879 limestone house, aptly named Stonehome, which is still our home. Assuming the role of wife and mother in this heritage building, that is so powerfully evocative of the past, really matured my potential as a writer of historical fiction, and local history. My creative bent was further stimulated by a stint at the local County Museum where a love of history really came to the fore and took flight. The bent was also fuelled by a full-time job that kept me attuned to local scenarios and happenings, of political and cultural natures for a number of years – all providing food for thought, grist for the pen.
  After moving into Stonehome, Clara Young, the main character in my first novel, “Clara”, was quick to imprint her unusual talents into my fertile mind, even though she’d been dead for thirty-four years. Clara, an eccentric spinster, owned “Stonehome” 1879 through 1931. I began to keep journals, gather folkloric stories and finally turned to writing, my first love – after hubby and children, of course – much to Miss Yourex’s delight because she said that she always knew I’d be a writer. I well remember the pivotal point in this blossoming career. As I left the dinner table one cold, stormy November night in 1977, Ted asked what I had planned for the evening.
  “I’m going to write a novel,” I said. And I did, over the course of the next seven months. “Clara” was published in 1979.
  Of course, there have been times when other things have caused me to veer off-course for a while – jobs that paid a few bills for a family of six immediately come to mind. But, the need to write always lies very close to the surface and begs for attention. It is the essence of my being. I love to write longhand, using a pencil. I read and correct the text several times before typing it. I finally had to forsake my trusty IBM Selectra for a computer. For each book, I work from primary source material and research extensively in the appropriate historical time period before committing anything to paper. I absorb speech patterns, clothing styles, physical settings and often recreate period environments for visual stimulation and inspiration.
  I fully admit that I have no idea how each storyline will evolve. I introduce characters and let them play out their involvement in a book’s plot. During the heat of writing a novel, an inner creative vitality sometimes comes close to overwhelming daily reality and routine. Needless to say, I live with a very understanding husband who realizes that I have to go with the flow.
  The most difficult days for me are experienced just after the book has been released to the general reading public. I agonize over whether I really wanted to share the characters that I created and know so well. They have inhabited my mind and shared my life. They are better known than most friends. Will readers understand them? Accept them?
  Readers find my novels are often so realistic I have to continuously emphasize that they are truly fictional. On occasion, people have shown up at “Stonehome” wanting to meet the author of the books they’ve enjoyed so much. I try to keep my cookie jar full. Unfortunately, there’s no room in the drive for a tour bus but don’t think that hasn’t occurred – more than once!
  A difficulty facing many authors is to get one’s books prominently displayed in book stores. The literary scene in Canada, as I’m sure it is elsewhere, is a tight-knit, la famiglia dello scelto venti – family of the chosen twenty. Under the circumstances, marketing oneself has become an ongoing, continuous, interesting process. I know first-hand that making myself accessible to my reading audience is important. I do a lot of guerrilla marketing. My horizons are expanded by going directly to the people through a large number of special and community events. Hoping that my experience might assist other writers – I’ve been “in the business” for more than thirty years – I also give presentations and seminars on writing and marketing books.
  My fictional works include “Clara”, 1979; “Anna, Child of the Poor House”, 1981; “Rachael’s Legacy,” 1988, all published by Back Door Press, Guelph, Ontario. “Magdalena’s Song”, 2003 and “No Choice But Freedom” 2006 are published by High Country Publishers, an imprint of Ingalls Publishing Group, Boone, North Carolina. My sixth novel, tentatively titled “Granite – A Place Forever Sweet” is set in Dufferin and Wellington Counties in Ontario, c1960. It should be available late summer 2008. Non-fictional works include “Looking Back”, a two volume local history, 1983; “Fergus, a Scottish Town by Birthright”, 1995 and “So You Want to Hold a Festival – the A-Z of Festival & Special Event Organization”, 2002, and “Stonehome Cookery” 2003.
  I also contribute a local history column to a community paper and round out my time by penning travel and lifestyle articles for a variety of North American publications. Never a dull moment, I say. . . .
  As a good friend, and book reviewer, wrote: – In conversation with Pat, one senses that no reading of her works of fiction can take us into the deep, compulsive level of creativity that this novelist experiences and accepts as another strata of her life – a plateau as mysterious as some of the characters in her novels. And this deep level of creativity is what makes Pat’s novels so compelling. They come from the heart and soul of the writer.