Pippa Bartolotti, the author of Barbarian, released her book in June 2019. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life had been treating her since she was published.
- Did you always dream of becoming an author?
As a young female living in a remote Cornish village, I had no idea that an ordinary person could become an author. As a child I was a hungry reader, and I loved to write almost anything from letters to short stories. Writing gives me so much pleasure that’s its quite surprising I hadn’t seriously considered writing as a career earlier in life.
- What was your first job?
My first paid job was potato picking in the local farmers field. I received a small brown envelope, about 2 inches square, properly stuck down, and with my name neatly written across it. I think 1 shilling and 3 pence was enclosed (old money), but the money wasn’t really the point. The point for me was that this was my first proper wage packet and I was about 10 years old. (Obviously I have done a lot of other jobs since!)
- How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
I had written 4 books before BARBARIAN, all inspired by either human rights, travel, the environment, or indeed a mixture of all three. I was fairly pleased with them at the time, but upon re-reading I discovered that my style lacked sufficient insight, and so I put them aside and just kept writing until finally I began to write a book that I actually enjoyed reading.
- What was your life like before you became an author?
I have always enjoyed a busy, fruitful and varied life. I started to write in earnest towards the end of my business career, mainly because my children were older and leaving home, and I sought deeper ways of expressing myself. I have always been a natural creative – my first professional job was as a fashion designer – and various forms of calligraphy, art, poetry and prose have been explored, but in the end the medium which gives me the most satisfaction is combining story telling with the most pressing social issues of our time.
- Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
Plenty! From horrifying misogyny at home and in business, to losing four of my children and a ghastly divorce. At times I did not feel I could overcome the despair. But I have a strong character, and I dug deep, and I pulled back from the brink of the abyss, and learned to let go of the people I loved most in order to live a more balanced life.
Writing has given me the chance to dig deep again, but this time in a very positive way.
- Now that you are a published author, how has your life changed, if at all?
I thrive on change, but it would be churlish of me not to say that even at this early stage that my life hasn’t changed. Being a published author is something of a lifetime honour. You earn it, and no-one can take it away from you. You carry the invisible esteem with gentle confidence.
The first time my partner introduced me to an acquaintance of his as a published author, I almost looked around to see who he was talking about! Now, I am learning to live with the title, though it still makes me smile.
I am not yet entirely comfortable with the idea – though my friends and family are truly proud. I will feel more comfortable when my second book is published!
- Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
I have no typical day – never had. I don’t get up at the same time every day, nor do I go to bed at the same time every day. I measure my days in achievements, so, for example if I have been on the streets with Extinction Rebellion, and passers by give us their support even though we might have blocked a few roads and caused inconvenience, that is a good day. If I walk the dogs through the pouring rain, feeling privileged to live near ancient woodland, and getting properly muddy feet, that is a good day. All the while I am planning my next storyline, honing the characters, thickening the plot. Every day is joyous.
- What is your most memorable moment of your life as an author?
The day Pegasus made me a publishing offer.
- In a few words, how would you review your experience with Pegasus Publishers?
Surprisingly thorough and generally very good. I approached the agreement with initial scepticism, and the edits seemed to take an age, but since the book was printed the staff have been most helpful.
- Why did you choose Pegasus Publishers?
Pegasus were the first to make me an offer (there were others) and in the absence of experience and market knowledge,( though I scoured the internet for information) I read through the contract, attempted to vary the deal, and took the plunge based simply upon the fact that my name – Philippa - is ancient Greek for ‘she who loves horses’. Pegasus is of course the winged horse. My intuition told me this was the right match
Apart from that, an early contact invited me to your offices to ease my mind of doubts. I did not make the journey, but felt a little more secure as a result of this offer.
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