Monday 15 July 2013

The Big Break with R.S. Pateman, author of The Second Life of Amy Archer and A Giveaway!

Another exciting debut author features on the blog today – R.S. Pateman, author of the psychological thriller, The Second Life of Amy Archer, published by Orion this month.
1) Your debut novel, The Second Life of Amy Archer, is about to be published. How are you feeling? 
Excited, anxious, happy, proud. But mainly I feel the nip of my fingers against my flesh from where I’ve been pinching myself since Orion offered me a book deal. It’s taken me a long time to get here, so standing on the brink of a life-long goal is very gratifying but also a little terrifying – I’m on the brink of sales figures and reviews, etc, too! Billie Jean King said that pressure is a privilege and she’s right. So, beneath the euphoria and the anxiety there’s a very real sense of being both privileged – and lucky.
2) The book is a psychological thriller. What kind of research did you have to do in order to get the story right?
My writing process is a little chaotic so my research tended to be on a ‘need to know’ basis – as in, I’ve hit a brick wall and need to know about ‘xxxx’ before I can continue. That doesn’t sound very clever or organised – and it isn’t. But, in this instance, it worked for me. I did some very light digging into reincarnation but quickly stopped as it’s such a complicated issue and I didn’t want the book to become too dry or theoretical. It helped that such a lot of the arguments about it were way over my head! Plus, I wanted Beth’s reaction to Esme’s claims to be as untainted and instinctive as possible – most people have a view on psychic/paranormal things one way or the other and the views tend to be basic, knee-jerk reactions rather than considered opinions based on sophisticated researched. 
3) What was the most interesting piece of information you discovered while researching for the book? 
Perhaps the most significant piece of information I discovered was the name of one of the characters – and where it led me. It had to be a name that was unexpected and unusual for the person concerned, but not too common as to make tracking them down via the internet unfeasible. Henry is a fairly unusual Christian name for people of the character’s age. I thought a double-barrelled name would narrow things down even further. I remembered the name of a Jamaican sprinter, Veronica Campbell Brown. I substituted Black for Brown and then tried Google. Henry Campbell Black had just one entry – a long-dead lawyer whose legal dictionary had become a staple text for lawyers. The ‘research’ gave me a character name and the narrative format for that character’s story – a kind of dictionary.
4) How long did it take you to write?
I first had the idea for the book over twenty years ago but left it buried in a notebook. When we met, my agent, Oli Munson at A M Heath, didn’t think the book I was writing was right for my debut. He asked if I had anything else. I told him about the idea that had been festering in my notebook for the last twenty years. He said to play around with that. So I did. The Second Life of Amy Archer is the result. The actual writing of the book – from first draft to approved, copy-edited version – took around ten months.
5) Were there times when you felt that it would never get published? If so, how did you work your way through them?
Crikey, yes! Sometimes – most of the time – it felt like crawling across the Sahara. Writing a book is a real leap of faith. It requires such an investment of time and effort – of your soul – and yet there is no guarantee of any return (financial or otherwise). Once the book’s finished, there’s the slog of finding an agent and even when you’re represented, your book might not find its way onto the shelves. For me, every part of the publication process – from writing to finding an agent to getting a deal – was a test of how much I believed in my writing. A test of character, too, perhaps. I weighed up what I wanted against what I’d have to do to get it. Priorities suddenly became much clearer. I’d put off my dream of writing for such a long time, I owed it myself to give it my best effort for as long as I could. 
6) Were you given any good writing advice that you would like to share with my readers?
I’ve read so many tips for writers and rules for writing I’m almost loathed to add to them as much of the advice seems to contradict itself. I tied myself up in knots of doubt if I wasn’t doing things in the prescribed way. But the most pertinent advice I ever read is also the most blindingly obvious: writers write. For years I was a wannabe writer – but I very rarely wrote anything. Showing up at the laptop is the only way to get the job done. 
7) What was your first reaction when you found out your book was to be published?
You mean when Oli rang me at 1.50pm on Thursday 5th July 2012? As you can tell, the moment is seared into my head and heart. I was stunned, ecstatic, disbelieving, overwhelmed. Bonkers. And that still doesn’t sum it up. I cried too of course, and still do from time to time. And no matter how hard it had been – all the slog, doubts, rejections and so on – it was all totally worth it for that moment. 
8) Who is the one person that cheered you on and supported you through your writing?
There have been so many at different stages of my life but the one person who played a big part in this book (apart from Oli) is a writing buddy of mine, Sarah Evans. We both attended a weekly writing group where we took it in turns to read our work or give feedback. I left London to write the book but Sarah continued to give me feedback and send me her work for crit. Her comments on the chapters made a huge difference – she’s a great critic and a great writer. Agents and publishers of contemporary women’s fiction take note! 
Book Summary
On 31st December 1999, ten-year-old Amy Archer went missing from her local playground. Her body was never found and the lives of her parents, Beth and Brian, were torn apart.
On the tenth anniversary of the disappearance, Beth is alone, still struggling with the enormity of her grief and the horror of not knowing the fate of her only child. But the fear and confusion have only just begun, and Beth's world is turned upside down when a stranger knocks on her door, claiming to know what happened to Amy.
Beth is introduced to a little girl who is the uncanny double of her missing daughter, who knows things that only Amy would remember; the name of her favourite toy, the place where she scratched her initials, what Beth likes for breakfast. But this can't be Amy, she hasn't aged a day...
Now Beth is forced to question everything she has ever believed in, and push her faith and her sanity to the limits, if she is to find out the truth about what happened to Amy.
To find out more about R.S. Pateman:
Twitter : @rspateman
So if the information about has caught your interest, how would you like to win a copy of the book. I have two up for grabs. This is a UK and Ireland only competition this time. If you would like to win, all you have to do is cut and paste the sentence in red  below and post on Twitter and leave your email address in the comments section below. The competition closes on Monday 22nd July 2013. Good luck everyone!
Want to win R.S. Pateman’s debut book, The Second Life of Amy Archer ? @Serendipity_viv has 2 copies to give away. #amyarcher


  1. Love the interview!!

    Anahita -

  2. Spooky book!

    Michael - enquirescontests at hotmail com

  3. Sounds like a great read Message has been tweeted (@Pagecrawler) and my email is



  4. Hi there I tweeted the comp @LisaReadsBooks thanks a million x

  5. oops forget my email address which is

  6. Comp tweeted, email address

  7. Comp tweeted. Email:

    Looking forward to reading the book...


    Lou Morrish


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.