An Interview with Patricia Crossley

Beloved Stranger
Patricia Crossley
eBook ISBN 1-59105-023-3
Paperback ISBN 1-59105-048-8
A paranormal romance novel
Journey’s End
Patricia Crossley
ISBN 1-58608-166-7
A time-travel romance novel
e-book: New Concepts Publishing

Author Bio

I have been immersed in the world of books since I learned to decipher the easy words at the age of four. I remember walking home as a child from the public library, book in hand, in London, England, only to come to “The End” before I reached my street. To my distress, the library rules at that time allowed only one or two books at a time and no returns on the same day! Can you wonder that I love the idea of e-books?

It could be that a family tradition that Charles Dickens was a many-times-great-grandfather always spurred my interest in both reading and writing. Whatever the reason, I turned from studying French language and literature to writing my own stories, and have a whole host of characters in my head, just waiting to be born. I have been writing on a part time basis since 1990.

I’ve taught hundreds of kids English, French and German, lived in five countries and moved countless times. Home is now in Victoria, Canada, with husband Rod, who is an avid sailor. I spend sunny, warm days on the boat, but decline the winter races with thanks.

Our itchy feet won’t let us stay rooted for long, so we will be taking up a volunteer educational position in Kenya in September 2001. Expect to see some African scenes in future books!

Our three children are now all out of the nest, so I can devote more time than ever to my writing and I am having a great time with a romantic suspense.


1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your background and writing career, etc?

I was born and brought up in London, England. I was a real city kid, my life defined by tube stations and double decker buses. Very few people owned a car when I was little and if we travelled it was by long distance bus or steam train. No motorways then, of course, so everywhere, even on the other side of London, was a very long way away. We only went to the countryside at holiday times. My parents favored the south coast and I had an uncle with a dairy farm in Devon which I adored. I went back two years ago and found the old stone farmhouse and the village virtually unchanged. This farm was the inspiration for the Godwin House in Journey’s End, although I had to move it many miles closer to London in the story.

I spent a great deal of time in France in my teens, living and working with French families and attending university. Although I learned French as a second language, it seems to me now that I have always spoken it equally with English.

I became a second language teacher, married an engineer, whom I had first met when I was eighteen (another story) and had a daughter. When she was just a baby, we moved to Montreal where I found my bilingual skills in great demand. Our other two sons are Quebecers. We loved Quebec and I’ve used some of the scenes and history from an area just outside Montreal for my paranormal romance, Beloved Stranger. We spent two years in Philadelphia and five wonderful years in Baden Baden, Germany, before we moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. I worked at a demanding job in educational administration in Vancouver and then for the university in Victoria before deciding to try my hand at fiction. I’ve always written a lot: stories for kids, reports, articles, but never had the time to do what I wanted to do, that is let my imagination soar. I’ve made up for it since! We have a sailboat and my husband races during the winter. I go along for the warm summer cruises and work on my books when I’m not helping with sails and so on. I’ve had three books published and one short story (another will appear shortly). At the moment I’m finishing up a romantic suspense.

2. You are an ebook author, your titles are published by New Concepts Publishing and Wordbeams Publishing, what prompted you to consider epublishing and why would you recommend it to other authors?

When computers began to appear in schools, I was an enthusiastic participant. I think from the very beginning I could see the wonderful advantages of the software. And then came the internet! What a revelation! So I don’t think I ever had any hesitation about the technology. When I first began writing seriously, in the early nineties, print was the only option and I tried very hard to break in. It soon became very apparent that I was coloring outside the lines, so to speak, for the main publishing houses. For example, my time travel “Journey’s End” moves from the present, to the past, to the future. I think the big houses found this disconcerting, although they were always complimentary about the writing and characterization. Since “Journey’s End” has been e published, it’s been selling well. I’ve had lots more compliments, and even four stars from Romantic Times. So readers like it!

When I discovered e publishing, I was delighted to find publishers who loved my work and were willing to work with me to offer it to a public. That public is relatively small right now, but I’m convinced it will grow mightily as soon as readers realize what great stories are available and how easy they are to read. Not to mention how inexpensive they are from the independent publishers. A recent$ 1 sale at Wordbeams (for the whole of May) literally created a log jam with all the orders that came flooding in. The readers are out there, we have to figure out how to reach them. The ebook readers are improving every few months. The potential is huge and in the world of technology things move at warp speed. Only five years ago, not many of us had email capability. Now we wonder how we could live without it.

Of course, e publishing does not yet offer the financial returns of a print run, if you’re lucky enough to get a print contract. (Notice I said “yet”) On the other hand, my books have no “shelf life.” So I would say to other writers: write what you love, and find a publisher, print or e, who loves it as much as you do. Some people are disdainful of ebooks, believing them to be poorly written and edited .Make sure your book is as technically as perfect as it can be (that includes grammar and punctuation as well as “the dramatic arc” of the story.) Money will not shower on you, but others will read your wonderful stories.

3. You write in the romance genre, can you tell us why you chose this particular genre, or did it choose you?

My books are classed as romances, although the big romance houses would argue with that. I always say I write “Romance with a twist.” That twist is what makes them a hard sell to Harlequin or Silhouette, but which appeals to many readers. I grew up reading Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Jane Austen. I loved particularly the “fictionalized history” where real people were brought to life. When I did my degrees, I was immersed in the literatures of France and Germany. Much of that literature is about the relationships between men and women, some of it rather cynical. This taught me an appreciation not only for the structure of a book, but also for the analysis of the relationships between people, and the observation of character.

I’m happily married myself and believe strongly in the bond of love between two people. I delight in seeing what brings them together, how they fight the odds against them, how they stay together. All my books are about two lovers “finding” each other: across time, after betrayal, through history.

In Canada’s National Post on May 11 2001, Elizabeth Nickson put it better than I could. She wrote:

“Solomon said one of the most wonderful, mysterious things on Earth is ‘the way of a man with a maid.’ Every culture has a means of recognizing the delicate, breathtaking dance that takes place between a man and a woman — getting to know someone, liking what you experience, falling in love. It used to be called courting. To be wooed and won was a beautiful, romantic process, one that fostered a lifetime of passion and commitment. Indeed, the civility and respect for boundaries that romance and courtship entail used to be the raw material of learning how to treat anyone well. They are foundational to culture as a whole. It is arguable that if this civility is not cultivated between men and women, it will not likely exist anywhere.”

Unfortunately, she was commenting on the lack of this kind of romance in the lives of many people. But I believe that we cannot rid ourselves of this longing ‘to be wooed and won’ so easily. That is probably why Romance in all its forms and subgenres still has the major share of the market.

4. You were born in England but now live in Canada, does this part of your history influence your writing?

If you are born in Europe, you cannot help but be steeped in history. My parents lived near St. Albans where there is an inn dating back to Roman times and which has therefore served ale continuously for sixteen hundred years. The cockpit is now a bar. A new road being pushed through unearthed the remains of a magnificent Roman villa. Day trips when I was a child were to Museums, the Tower of London, Hampton Court. History to me was a part of life, and I think that is why I try to bring historical detail into some of my books.

When I moved to Canada we were fortunate enough to live in the most historic area of the country, where Jacques Cartier landed in 1535. There was a seamless transition from the history of Europe to that of the New World. I was fascinated by the culture of Quebec, where for many years people were routinely isolated, physically and emotionally. They were first cut off from France, the source of their language and culture, they fought to survive in a hostile climate of extreme cold for half the year, they battled to retain a French presence in a sea of English. All these are reflected in the music and literature in Quebec. I feel that I have a foot on both sides of the Atlantic and can draw what I need from either well of information. We’ve lived in the States also and now are settled on the Pacific Coast, where we delight in the beauty and the space, not to mention the milder climate.

We had five years in the Black Forest where we were able to participate in yet another culture and where we made many friends.

In nearly all the places I’ve lived since my marriage I have been a “stranger” either by birth or language. This creates a new mindset and way of observing life. It gives me a wealth of experience to draw on, enriching my own life as well as my writing.

5. Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment and what goals you have for the future in terms of your writing career?

I’ve just discovered short stories. I never thought I could write “short” but I did one for the Wordbeams Lovey-Dovey anthology and found great pleasure in writing it. Saturday Night is set in Victoria where I live and received lots of good reviews. It was also picked up by Storyteller Magazine, a Canadian quarterly, and printed in the most recent edition. Another story The Fireworks Display has been selected as a prize winner by the same magazine and will appear in the special Canada Day edition this summer. It’s in the running for a finalist prize in their contest. It will also appear as a Wordbeamette which is the cute name for the single short reads at Wordbeams. Both these stories are light romances.

I’m writing a romantic suspense entitled Dance with the Devil, which I intended at first to be a true suspense. But the hero and heroine wouldn’t listen to me, and insisted on beefing up the romance. This book is a contemporary, set in Victoria, and involves a stalker from a woman’s past. My critique group tells me it’s pretty scary. I’m very close to the end on this one.

I wrote some introductory chapters to this book which I now find I don’t need. I think I might spin them off into a longer “short” It will be too long for a Wordbeamette, so I might try elsewhere to place it. I have an agent interested in my work and I’m looking forward to submitting Dance with the Devil very soon.

6. You are off to Kenya later on in the year, will this be an opportunity for you to use this as the backdrop to a new novel?

Oh, I do hope so. I’ve been reading some children’s books and lots of short stories, because I have the feeling that’s where I’ll start. I’m not sure if I would know enough about the country to make it a back drop for a full length novel, but you never know. I have made a page on my website where there is a link to the organisation I’ll be working for. I’ve also started to post some Vignettes from Africa supplied by the agents who are there now. I plan to add to these on a regular basis and post them on my site while I’m away. I even think they might come together for a book eventually. You can check the page

7. Finally, is there one particular author who has influenced your writing, and do you have a favorite contemporary author?

I’ve mentioned a couple of writers that I liked while I was growing up. In the realm of short stories, I still think it’s hard to beat Guy de Maupassant. I always look for books by Patricia Highsmith and P.D. James. I love the psychological tension. Who else? Patricia Cornwell in her earlier books, Tami Hoag, Jennifer Crusie, Lisa Grant, Steven King. There are so many and I read widely.

8. Where can we find out more about your books?

I have a web site You’ll find reviews and first chapters of my novels and extracts from the short stories. Very soon I plan to start posting the opening of my suspense novel, and I’ll be looking for feedback. My site has eight free downloads, including samplers and whole cook books. I’m hoping to add to the links and articles before I leave for Africa. At the moment my writing has to take priority, but I have plans for several things as soon as I have some time.

Read an extract from Beloved Stranger:


February, 1838

Captain George MacMillan of the Queen’s Volunteer Cavalry in Upper Canada pushed through the cold, dark woods, heard the snap as the metal teeth closed on his ankle and fell hard. The weight of his body, muffled and padded against the cold, broke the icy crust on the packed snow, jarring the breath from his lungs. His leg flamed with the shards of pain that shot down to his toes and up into his abdomen. He realized with terrible certainty that the small drift of snow had been enough to conceal the leg trap.

His first instinct was to hide, his training strong enough to tell him to withdraw, reassess, make a rational decision. He dragged himself a few feet, straining his arms and shoulders, the wounded leg and the metal trap a dead weight behind him. The needle-like branches of the leafless undergrowth clawed at his face and greatcoat as he crawled. He paused, panting from pain and effort, and propped his shoulders against a tree.

He could feel the trickle of warm blood as it seeped into his left boot, then cooled and congealed in the bitter cold. The trap must be removed. He would not allow himself to think of what a doctor would find, or what would likely have to be done to mend the mutilated bone and sinew. He would lose his leg; he would be a cripple for Isabelle, not the strong, powerful man she waited for. Tears of pain and anger froze on his cheeks.

Suddenly, he sensed a change in the force of the wind on his face. He raised his gloved hand to brush the snow from his eyes and peered carefully into the swirl of flakes. Gradually he made out a formless bulk against the bare skeleton branches of the maples. The shape moved slowly towards him, and he knew it to be a man. Someone out in this hellish storm! Someone who would help him to warmth and shelter and medical attention! The man moved closer and stood before him. He could see little, for his rescuer was muffled in a dark wrap of some kind, a knitted tuque pulled low down over his forehead to the brow, a scarf across the lower face. Only the eyes were visible, glittering black and cold in the faint, reflected light from the snow.

“Who is it?” George MacMillan gasped. “Help me–the trap.” He propped himself more firmly against a tree and gestured with his free hand.

The stranger stood and stared impassively.

“Help me,” George begged again. He knew no one would refuse to help in these conditions. Even enemies shared a basic humanity.

The newcomer stepped forward, and the injured man prepared to reach for the broad shoulder to support himself while his rescuer pried the steel jaws from his leg. He tensed, ready for the pain as hands grasped his leg, ready for the wrench as he pulled at the teeth . . .ready for his rescuer to raise the whole thing from the ground. With relief, he felt strong hands on his shoulders. Now the unknown rescuer would lift him, carry him to safety, to a warm house, to a doctor. Instead, he felt the tug on his arms as the silent stranger dragged him back the way he had come, retracing his hard won path deeper into the bush.

“No . . . please.” The words were swallowed in a wail of despair. At the end of the few yards the chain allowed, the stranger paused and came to stand over him. George lay, helpless, looking up at him like a trapped animal.

The man pulled down the thick scarf from his mouth and grinned.

“You!” George gasped.

The man’s smile grew broader. “Bad luck, Capitaine,” he said, his accent strong. “I did not expect my trap to catch such a prize tonight. One way or the other, I would ‘ave killed you when you came for little step-maman. This is better than I planned. Non, non,” he said as George scrabbled for his gun. “I will take that.”

He easily brushed aside the grasping hands and removed the flintlock. “The storm is good for two days. You and she will meet in heaven–or in hell! Adieu.” He turned and faded into the swirling whiteness.

George MacMillan lay back to meet the cold pain of death . . . “Isabelle,” he whispered. “Wait for me. I shall come. Wait . . .”

Beloved Stranger is available now from


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