Tuesday, 17 April 2018

West Yorkshire Published - Phill Featherstone

This week I am celebrating West Yorkshire with authors from the area and also their books that have a Yorkshire theme.

Today I am delighted to introduce Phill Featherstone, born in West Yorkshire and top selling author of Paradise Girl.

I was born and brought up in West Yorkshire, in a small village near Hebden Bridge. At the time I didn't ‘reckon much’ (as they say in these parts) to life up north. Everything that was lively, vibrant and had appeal for a teenager was going on in other places, so when I was 18 I left and headed for London. I became a teacher and taught English, mainly to 6th formers. Along the way I also served time as a taxi driver, an ice cream man (I was Mr Whippy!), sold audio equipment, and with Sally, my wife, founded and ran a small educational publishing company. All this was in other places. However, Yorkshire was a constant call. Eventually Sally (a Hampshire lass) had had enough of me going on and she decided she’d only get peace if I moved back. We found a wonderful converted farm house high on the hills, a good spit in a strong wind from Haworth, and at the same time I turned from writing non-fiction for teachers to producing fiction. I’m lucky that I can look out from my writing desk onto the spectacular scenery of the Brontë country, moors which might have been traversed by Heathcliff or Catherine Earnshaw. The stunning beauty of the landscape and its gritty bleakness can’t fail to call to an artist or writer.

The idea for ‘Paradise Girl’ came to me one day in the summer of 2013. There was a power cut, and it turned out to be a long one. I was in the house on my own and I worked on my laptop until the battery gave out, then I took a cold drink outside and sat on my terrace. The day was hot and still, and I was slipping into a snooze when I became aware that I could neither see nor hear any signs of life. There were no vehicles moving on the opposite hillside, no tractors in the fields, no sounds from the valley below. It was as if no-one else existed. I began to muse on this. If no one was left, where might the people have gone, and why? Could they have been evacuated to escape some threat? Had they been beamed up by aliens? Wiped out by a plague? And just supposing everyone else had disappeared and I were to be left entirely alone, abandoned on this hilltop on my own, what would I do to keep going? Could I survive? The idea for ‘Paradise Girl’ was born.

The character of Kerryl Shaw, heroine of ‘Paradise Girl’, was already in my head. She and her twin brother, Lander, were in a story about organ harvesting I’d been plotting. It wasn’t going well and I’d already decided to put it aside, but I liked Kerryl and she seemed an ideal antagonist for this new story. It needed to be someone young because that would make the situation more poignant, but they had to be old enough to think and communicate on an adult level; a bright, observant 17-year-old with their life before them was ideal. I chose Kerryl rather than her brother because I felt that, based on my experience of teaching teenagers, a female character would be better able to explore their feelings, reflect on them and put them into words. It’s a terrible generalization, I know, but that’s what I decided.
The next matter to settle was how to tell the story. The book needed the immediacy of a first-person narrator, but I also wanted readers to be intrigued by the question of Kerryl’s survival: does she manage to get through the apocalypse or not? If she were to be the storyteller that question would be answered from the start and some of the opportunity for suspense would be lost. Also, the present tense would have more impact than describing what had happened in the past, although some back-story would be needed. I thought about these things for a long time and then I had an idea; Kerryl would indeed be the narrator, but she would tell the story through a diary. As a bookish girl in love with English, it’s natural she would write one. It would be a private conversation in which she would express her ideas, impressions, thoughts and innermost feelings, as well as chronicling the advance of the plague. The diary would be found later, and the reader wouldn’t know until they got to the end whether Kerryl was still alive or not.
However, there was a snag: she might start a diary, but why would she continue with it once she realised that there was no one left to read it? The answer was for her to imagine a reader, a good-looking hunk of a boy called Adam. Adam comes into her mind and Kerryl begins to write for him, and as she does so he becomes increasingly real to her.
A lot of research has been done by NASA on the psychological impact of isolation, and there have also been studies of the effects of solitary confinement. I drew on some of these when exploring the dark places a mind can go when it is left alone in a world that is falling apart. Kerryl’s mental state as loneliness bites into her is a key theme of the book.

Paradise Girl’ is the third novel I’ve written, although it’s the first to be published. It’s available for download from Amazon at 99p or 99c (for a limited period).
My latest book is called ‘The God Jar’, and should be out later this year or early next. This is completely different, being a fantasy adventure spanning 400 years. I’m now working on a sequel to ‘Paradise Girl’. You can find out about all my writing, as well as read my book reviews and blogs, on my website – www.phillfeatherstone.net – and there you can also sign up for advance information and special offers.

You can find Phill on the following....
These are the book links:

I also have links to Apple, GooglePlay, Kobo and Barnes & Noble -

My website (info about me, random and occasional thoughts about writing, book reviews) is 

Goodreads page is - https://tinyurl.com/y7frtrtp
Twitter is - @PhillFeathers

Thank you Phill and thank you, dear friend, for stopping by. Please come back tomorrow to meet another author from Yorkshire.

Until then, I wish you a fabulous day and I hope the sun is shining on your face and in your heart.


Brought to you by Storm Clouds Gathering


Chill Awards for Independent Authors

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