There are times as a blogger when I really wish I didn’t have over 900 books piled around my home awaiting reading. Today is one of those times as it means I haven’t yet had chance to read Over My Shoulder by Patricia Dixon. Over My Shoulder sounds just my kind of read. Still, I do have an interview with Patricia today so at least I get to find out a bit more about her and the book!
Published by Highfield Press, Over My Shoulder is available for purchase here.
Over My Shoulder
This is a dark and gripping romance which tells of a nice young girl who met a very bad man. Sounds simple? Not really.
By the time the girl realised the depths of his wicked soul and a wiser, braver young woman was about to emerge, it was too late. His twisted roots had wrapped around her life, spreading rapidly, taking a firm hold of her confused head and fragile heart. There was to be no escape from the tangled mess unless it was on his terms and even then, once she was free and her life rolled precariously on, the seeds he had sown remained embedded deep within.
When she least expected it he would return and make good his promise, exact revenge and ensure she paid any price he felt owed.
Set in Manchester in the early nineties, Over My Shoulder is an intricate tale of blinkered love and obsession. This gripping psycho-sexual thriller with criminal undertones tracks the life of a young woman, from her carefree mid-twenties right up to present day.
Freya falls under the spell of controlling and manipulative Kane and soon, her life changes beyond her wildest imagination. When the luxurious life she craves gradually becomes intolerable, escape is out of reach.
This is a disturbing story of an affluent life, cleverly camouflaging the sinister underworld which funds it. And just when you think it is all over, there is a twist.
When will it end, can it end?
An Interview with Patricia Dixon
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Patricia. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and Over My Shoulder in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
Hello Linda and thanks for having me on your blog. In answer to your first question I live in Manchester and have done all my life apart from the time I spent at Preston Polytechnic and then London. I am married with two grown up children and one grandchild. I originally worked in the fashion industry as the PA to a couture designer, it was a fabulous but hectic job and then I moved north where I travelled the UK producing knitwear. After our daughter was born I worked with my husband in his building company and now, with an empty nest, have the time to write which I’ve wanted to do for so long.
Why do you write?
The reason why I write is probably very similar to why most authors do – my head is constantly buzzing with ideas and on so many occasions after finishing a book I thought ‘I could do better than that’. It truly is my dream job and when I receive lovely letters from readers who usually become friends, it makes all the hours I spend locked away worthwhile.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
The easiest aspect is the actually writing of the book. I hate editing in the final stages because after the fourth or fifth time of reading it through it starts to drive you mad – and you go word blind in the process. And it’s getting easier to chop stuff out, I get very precious about a paragraph or even a sentence but sometimes they just have to go. The scariest thing of all though is the first time you get the manuscript back from the editor and open the file to see all the red amendments – but now I enjoy that part as it’s a learning opportunity and we do have a bit of a giggle over some of my mistakes.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
I write in our dining room. It has a sofa for when I get a numb bum and from my writing chair I can keep my eye on my husband whose workshop is close by. I’m a bit of a clean freak so get up early to do my housework and sometimes prepare dinner – once I start to write I’m in another zone and often forget to cook. I usually start work around 10.30am and continue until 7pm, sometimes later if I’m on a roll but we both have a rule to stop work at 9pm.
How far do you think a previous career in fashion has helped give you an eye for detail in your writing?
I think attention to detail may stem from my design history and it was instilled in us to always have a notebook and write things down, anything you see or think that provides inspiration. I had a book in my bag which was stuffed with cuttings, photos, postcards, quotes, music titles, bits of fabric – all sorts of rubbish that meant something to me. This training produced a fanatical list writer – in fact I become very stressed if my mind is in disarray and even now I find that writing down jumbled thoughts or things I need to do and random ideas, calms me down.
Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about Over My Shoulder?
Over My Shoulder is a very personal conversation between the main character, Freya, and the reader. From the outset I wanted it to feel as though she was confiding in you, baring her soul whilst confessing her mistakes and asking for your opinion. I’ve had many compliments from readers who enjoyed this fresh approach to story telling and felt as though they were experiencing Freya’s story along with her which then added to the tension in the book. I was very aware that had the reader not experienced any kind of abuse, be it mental or physical, that they may not understand her plight and therefore made a point of gently explaining the mindset of the abused. I also felt a great responsibility towards those who are victims to get it right and do them justice. Finally, I purposely held back in the scenes that are disturbing simply because I didn’t want to offend or really upset anyone so left lots to the imagination.
(This makes me even more frustrated I haven’t had chance to read Over My Shoulder yet!)
Over My Shoulder marks a bit of a departure from your previous novels. Why did you decide to make the change?
I’ll be very honest with you here – it was to exorcise a ghost. Last year I received a message via Facebook from the wife of a man who almost ruined my life. If you read the book you will see the almost identical message, one which made me fall apart. My dear friend Angela (who is also my book world guru) helped me through the shock and as always, gave me some sound advice and suggested I write about it. The next morning I got up extra early and wrote the prologue and sent it to her – the rest is history.
Why did you choose the 1990’s as the era for Over My Shoulder?
I chose the early 90’s as it suited the storyline – my situation happened in the 80’s but for the purposes of the tale I needed an era where things were changing, like technology, people were making the transition from a simpler way of life to mobile phones and computers. I think women were less aware of the danger that surrounds them, these days the news and social media is full of horror stories and warnings regarding stalkers and how your life can be hacked into. I also wanted Freya to be less streetwise than women today, a little more naive perhaps. And in those days there were no laws to protect you from stalking and the domestic violence unit at the police station consisted of one or two officers, nowadays there is a whole department dealing with the problem.
To what extent do you think lives in today’s society are adversely affected by the desire for luxury that Freya has?
I think the desire for luxury and fame is a blight on our youth who seem to crave celebrity or an easy life. Maybe it’s a role model issue, or lack of community and extended family values that’s to blame, but whatever it is, today’s youngsters appear to admire people for all the wrong reasons. Like those who cruise around in cars with blacked out windows which were bought from the proceeds of crime, or women who behave badly on reality television or anyone who achieves notoriety for doing very little of worth. I really hope things change soon – fingers crossed the emergence of women’s sport might alter perceptions and raise expectations.
Kane is a highly manipulative character. How did he make you feel as you wrote about him?
I enjoyed writing Kane’s character. He was the culmination of so many men I have been told about or had the misfortune to meet. You’d be surprised how many women are married to or in relationships with men who control them, it isn’t always obvious, maybe it’s subtle, but it’s there and extremely dangerous. There are many layers to Kane, none of them remotely likeable and like all weak men the way he finds strength is in the subjugation of others. No matter what I wasn’t going to allow the reader to feel an ounce of pity for him and in doing so I allowed my mind run free and make him an extremely vile individual!!
How did you go about researching detail and ensuring Over My Shoulder was realistic?
As I mentioned above, some of Over My Shoulder is written from experience and the rest is pure fiction. I did make sure I got my facts right about how domestic violence is on the rise and after advice from Beta Readers, added some statistics, just for the sceptics. This was the hardest thing to include as I didn’t want it to sound like an advice pamphlet so wove it into a chapter where I thought it appropriate. The best compliments I’ve had so far are about the believability of my characters and how Freya interacts with her family. Readers have commented that they can feel the warmth and bond, which I hope reflects the love of my parents and how I communicate relatable emotions.
Over My Shoulder has a cover that suggests panic to me. How did that image come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?
My cover is inspired by the latter part of the story and does convey panic – a word that aptly describes the final stages of the tale. I saw it on The Cover Collection which is where I get all my covers and knew instantly it was the one for me. Debbie the wonderful designer there did a bit of tweaking and produced this. I love it.
If you could choose to be a character from Over My Shoulder, who would you be and why?
Oh my!! I don’t think I’d like to be a character in Over My Shoulder, certainly not Freya but if I had to choose perhaps I’d be Lydia, her best friend. Maybe I’d try a little bit harder to prise Freya away from Kane and give her more support.
If Over My Shoulder became a film, who would you like to play Freya and why would you choose them?
If Over My Shoulder became a film I’d want Anna Friel to play the older version of Freya. Hands down she is perfect for the role.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I often read and review books by other author friends as we are all very supportive of one another, but really don’t have that much time although it is a great way to learn and get writing tips from your peers. I love Amanda Prowse because she has the knack of touching on everyday lives and making them interesting, her stories and characters are very relatable. Nick Alexander, Sue Fortin, Helen Pollard, Louise Mullins and Linda Huber are brilliant. My friend Emmanuelle de Maupassant writes erotica and I have read two of hers ( don’t even think about 50 shades) these are beautifully written and set in bygone ages and I promise are worth a try. I’m not keen on horror but have read two dystopian books recently. My favourite subject is the Second World War and love books set in this time, especially about The Resistance – it fascinates me.
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Over My Shoulder should be their next read, what would you say?
15 words –
Hold Freya’s hand, be her friend, and experience manipulation at the hands of a master.
Thank you so much for your time, Particia, in answering my questions.
*I’d like to thank Linda for asking such brilliant and absorbing questions, I’m quite exhausted now – I’ll have to have a lie down on my sofa. I hope you enjoy the answers and if anyone would like to get in touch, please don’t be shy and contact me on the links below. Everyone is welcome. Bye for now x
About Patricia Dixon
Patricia Dixon lives in Manchester. After a career in Fashion she swapped all things fabric for bricks and mortar, working alongside her husband where she ran his building company and now, with an empty nest, finally has time to write.
The All for Love series is set in the Loire where Patricia has a holiday home, a place to close to her heart and from where she gathers inspiration for her characters and tales of French countryside life.
Over My Shoulder is Patricia’s sixth novel, a darker, psychological tale told from the viewpoint of a young woman, reliving the past.
You’ll find all of Patricia’s books here.