Friday, October 20, 2017

Pat Young, Guest Blogger and One To Watch

I am still in Canada, 'rv-ing' around and getting beeped at for not 'making the turn' when the road is clear. In the UK, we wait to be told to take the right...left? Whatever.

Jeff and Annamaria  may recall me asking them if they would look over a book written  by a Scot but set in the states. They both very generously agreed. The author, the subject of this blog, then went into meltdown at having such famous folk read her stuff.

However, things took a slightly different turn and  let's just say the book went hurtling up the charts  a little later. She tells the story below.

I first met Pat when I was doing a writers workshop. She was so talented I wanted to stab her there and then.  It was no surprise that she won a major prize and then got a publishing deal. Her story to publication though, is an interesting one.

While I have been nagging at her to blog, she has been sorting out the accents for the audio books. No easy feat with this narrative; think me, Jeff and Annamaria and you won't go far wrong.

Just one more thing. Pat says below that the woman has committed a crime and needs to get away. That is true. What Pat doesn't say is that the reader is willing her on every step of the way!

Here's Pat.

"Readers often wonder where writers find their inspiration. ‘How did you get the idea for this book?’ is a question asked at almost every book launch or author interview I’ve ever attended. The responses vary enormously and sometimes the writer doesn’t even know the answer.

I can identify the exact moment in time when I was inspired to tell Lucie’s story. I didn’t know that her name would be Lucie or anything about her or what would happen to her. That came later, once I started writing, but the seed of a plot was planted in my brain one night in September when I was sat in front of the television.

It was the anniversary of 9/11. Perhaps every anniversary is marked with special programs on TV but I had never seen them. Three documentaries caught my attention. I watched them back to back.

One was about the dust that shrouded Manhattan after the Towers fell. It was the first time I’d seen images of people caught in the dust shower. I saw how they became completely unrecognisable. It was impossible, in some cases, to say whether a person was male or female, black or white, young or old. They were walking snowmen. No other way to describe them.

The second report was about a woman who pretended to be a survivor, although she was nowhere near New York State on September 11th 2001. This woman, for reasons known only to herself (and her psychiatrist) set up and became leader of a survivors’ group. She made herself so well-known that she stood by Barack Obama’s side at the unveiling of the 9/11 Memorial. No one thought to question her. She was accepted as being who she said she was.

The third programme focussed on crime. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, according to this documentary, many felonies, from the small to the very serious, went undetected, or at least, unreported. As far as the USA was concerned, there was no news, other than the tragedy that had occurred in Manhattan.

A person shrouded in dust beyond recognition, a woman pretending to be someone she was not and serious crime going unnoticed. The three came together and inspired a ‘What if?’ moment. For me that’s the start of every story and it was a great start to this one.

What if a young woman has committed a terrible crime?
What if she’s running away when she gets caught up in the dust storm?
What if such an awful tragedy gives her the chance to take on a new identity?

And so Till the Dust Settles was born.

I pitched the premise to a panel of experts at a conference and got the green light. A year later, at the same conference of the Scottish Association of Writers, Till the Dust Settles won two prizes. It was judged best novel 2015 and won the prestigious Constable Stag trophy, a beautiful silver creature who adorned my sideboard for a year. I also won representation by that marvellous literary agent and editor, Alan Guthrie of Jenny Brown Associates. Al was convinced Till the Dust Settles would be snapped up by one of the big London publishing houses and every editor to whom he sent it read the full manuscript and enjoyed it. However, a major problem emerged. Till the Dust Settles is set in the United States and the protagonist, Lucie, was American. I am not.
One editor loved the book. She thought its author, Pat Young was an American man. She was poised to buy, apparently. When she found out Pat Young is a middle-aged Scottish woman, it was no deal.
I was downhearted and felt the book needed changes. Al disagreed. ‘Thanks, I’ll take it from here,’ I said as we parted ways, amicably. I will always be grateful to Alan for all he taught me about the publishing world and for having such faith in the book.
Caro Ramsay, who was my first writing teacher, suggested I make Lucie Scottish, which gave me an immediate connection. I trust Caro, so I got on with a re-write and the rest, as they say …
In April 2017 I submitted to Bloodhound Books and within a week I was offered a contract. Till the Dust Settles was published three months later. The joy of seeing my 89 year old mother holding my book in her hands was all the reward I needed but there was more to come. Over one hundred people turned out to my launch and the love in the room was overwhelming. The book is currently being recorded for an audiobook. Readers are calling for a sequel. Bloodhound Books are delighted and the sequel to Till the Dust Settles will be published on March 1st 2018.
What pleases me most among the many heart-warming reviews, from both sides of the Atlantic, are those which comment on how sensitively I’ve handled such a difficult subject. That was my priority, from the moment I first watched those documentaries and thought, ‘What if?’  "

Pat Young Friday  20th October 2017
Guesting for Caro Ramsay


  1. Now that's what I call a truly inspirational story of a fascinating theme! I'm truly honored that, thanks to your first teacher--the ever brilliant Ms. Caro--Annamaria and I were once considered to read the earlier version of TTDS. I can't wait to read it now, as I lived through 9/11, from seeing the first wisps of smoke in the downtown sky as I walked past the UN that day, to watching each tower collapse in real time from my office window, on through all that followed...including long lines of the grey dust people parading silently by my midtown building toward the bridges that would take them out of Manhattan and home. Congratulations, Pat, and thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Pat. Sounds fascinating, it's bought and awaiting me on my reader. Your blog and the first chapter convinced me.

  3. Sounds like a fascinating book. I will read it when available at the NY library.

    And I remember 9/11 well. I saw damaged people walking up a nearby avenue, being aided by others. And then the photographs of missing relatives were posted around the corner on so many buildings. And then the calls for food for the search dogs.

    And then the requests for people to adopt pets which had been left behind.

    It was all awful to live through, of course, mostly for the victims' family members and co-workers, and for the injured.