By Donna Vann
I interviewed octogenarian José Patterson, long-time member of SCBWI who has recently self-published her first book of children’s fiction, ‘No Buts, Becky!’
I have to say also that I came across prejudice. I’m a Jew – I know about anti-Semitism, about prejudice. I thought we were top of the list! Not so. I got a promotion to advisory teacher to all the children who because of their parents’ way of life couldn’t have a normal education – traveller, fairground and circus children.
The book took at least 10 years from original concept to publication. It was always ‘not quite right’ for a publisher’s list. That’s why I went with self-publishing. In the first three months the book sold almost 500 copies.
Do what I never did – grab your reader straight away. Look at a lot of books and see how they start. I sent my story to a literary critic, and when I got his critique back I wept over it. He said, ‘What is this book? A blizzard of words all over the first paragraph....This is not going to work.’ In the end I cleared the blizzard. If you know what to do at the beginning it’s going to save you a lot of heartache.
José Patterson was one of the first members of SCBWI in the UK. She lives in Oxford, where her husband founded the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish studies. Over the years José has raised four children, worked as advisory teacher for traveller, circus and fairground children and written many articles for magazines and newsletters, as well as six books of non-fiction for children. ‘No Buts, Becky!’ is her first children’s novel.