Patricia has time for her imagination to run wild
Since moving to Australia from New Zealand in 2012 Patricia has pursued what she calls her “very expensive hobby” self-publishing children’s books.
Writing rhyme and painting colourful watercolour animals helps fill the lonely days living apart from her husband Bob, a Londoner, who prefers to live in England where Patricia cannot access her New Zealand pension.
“When I moved here I struggled with retirement because it’s not for me. I’m restless. That’s why I got stuck into the writing,” she says.
“The days were too long on my own and I missed my husband and I didn’t know anybody and I thought ‘I’ve got to do something’ so I pulled out all my old stories and started doing the artwork.”
Patricia has created four books since 2014, which she wrote and painted from her tiny eclectic apartment.
A fifth book, The Peacock Palace Elephant, is currently with her new publisher InHouse Publishing.
The creative process stimulates Patricia’s vibrant imagination and injects youthful joy into her retirement years as she delves into a boundless world of “naughty” animals.
Her books are based on playful characters, such as Moki the cat, Pippy the possum and the deaf Peacock King who rents an elephant.
As Patricia describes their stories, a cheeky smile lights up her face.
“I like naughty animals; they’re fascinating really,” she says.
“They’re not supposed to be naughty these days but they are. People say I’ve also got a naughty smile.”
Patricia was raised the youngest of six children on a farm in Katikati in New Zealand and spent her days “running wild” and cuddling cows.
“I struggled with retirement because it’s not for me. I’m restless”
As the baby of the family she was inclined to naughtiness which is reflected in the characters of whom she speaks as though they were alive.
She lived in England for 15 years where she worked as a marriage registrar in Westminster before returning to New Zealand and then migrating to Australia.
Her husband visits during the year, and she flies to England when she can, but in between she has found new stimulation with her animal friends.
Patricia says new ideas often “creep in” at 2 o’clock in the morning as she lies in bed and she welcomes them like gifts.
“Oh, I love it,” she exclaims. “It’s awful when a story’s done. That’s the problem now, I’ve run out of ideas and have to start again.”
A love of poetry and Shakespeare (she has a BA English Literature) inspires her writing while the artwork reflects her devotion to colour, like the vibrant blue of her nail polish and kitchen.
Patricia says it’s important for her to remain original both in her work and life.
She doesn’t dress conventionally and certainly doesn’t live that way with her husband away for months on end.
She will admit only to being over the age of 60 (laughing that age is “ghastly”) but as long as she has animal friends for company, she says she remains young at heart.
Patricia’s books, The Peacock Palace Elephant, The Importance of Being Moki, Moki’s Crystal Palace, King of the Beasts and Pip Visits the Jungle Pet Shop are available at selected bookstores and libraries.