Born in Romania, living in South Africa, Patricia Furstenberg is the author of ‘Joyful Trouble’. ‘Joyful Trouble’ is a children’s book about a dog in World War II. However, readers have stated that this heart-warming tale appeals to all ages and would make a great film.
The clear blue sky made an appearance on the day that Patricia Furstenberg arrived in the UK. Patricia arrived in Heathrow after a ten-hour flight from Johannesburg. Patricia was smiling and was easily recognisable amongst the crowds of people by the notebook she was holding, with papers of various sizes sticking out of it and by her brown handbag which I recognised from my Handbag Gallery. She was not fazed by her long wait for the luggage in the airport and the tiresome queues. Instead, like a true writer, she was absorbed with her sense of place and the setting.
It took us about four hours to travel to South Wales but we chatted all the way. Patricia spoke of her family, pets and ambitions. It felt as if I had known Patricia for a very long time: communicating by Twitter is great but meeting people face to face is even better.
As we crossed the Severn Bridge, the clouds hovered on the horizon. I stopped off at my favourite butchers, in Newport, to buy some of their gorgeous spicy South African sausages. A South African friend introduced me to these sausages. I hoped that Patricia would like them. On returning to my house, I organised a large pot of coffee and we started to chat. As we chatted, the neighbour’s dogs barked at Patricia as if they knew that she would be a great friend. Then, I cooked the sausages and served with a mustard sauce and a large salad of lettuce, melons, cucumber and herbs. This was served with some fresh whole meal bread that my husband had prepared. We drank a sweet, white Romanian wine.
Jessie: This is a delicious Romanian wine. Do you know anything about the wine?
Patricia: Lacrima lui Ovidiu, Ovidiu’s Teardrop, is probably named so after the Latin poet Ovidius exiled in the city of Tomis at the Black Sea, now part of Romania, for reasons of „carmen et error” (poetry and error). He died while still in exile. This wine always brings back good memories of my study years and the friends I had back in Romania. It tastes of dried and fresh fruits and has a strong oak taste. It was the House wine of the Romanian Royal House.
We continued to sip the cool wine and I asked Patricia about her book.
Jessie: I love the title of your book, ‘Joyful Trouble’ and the picture of the dog. What is the book about? Can you capture the essence of the book in two sentences?
Patricia sat back, wiped the condensation from her glass of wine and began to explain.
Patricia: When a Great Dane arrives at a Navy base nobody expects him to win everybody’s hearts, although breaking some human rules along the way; he is named Joyful Trouble.
We hear all about this gentle giant’s adventures by listening to Grandpa’s stories, the one in charge with Joyful Trouble during WWII, as he tells them to his grandchildren, thoughtful Ana, age 9, and always hungry and busy Tommy, age 5
Jessie: As the title suggests, the book sounds like fun. What did the reviewers say about the book?
Patricia placed the wine glass on the table and retrieved some reviews.
“Being a dog person myself, I absolutely loved this book. I laughed with this book and shed a tear or two as well. Overall this was a quick and very delightful read. Even though this book is tagged as a children’s book, I would recommend it to all.
“Well written! In an age where we often struggle to get children to read this is a wonderful book!”
“A book that feels like a movie. A book written for all the senses: tactile information, kinaesthetic, auditory….a strong auctorial voice explains every situation, making it possible for the reader to live it as a film.”
Your readers can find out by themselves as Joyful Trouble is on a FREE special today and tomorrow (2nd and 3rd of September).
Jessie: I haven’t read the book. Can you read an extract that will tempt me?
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. And all the time I said to myself: this is not a dream, this is not a dream. For I have heard my Commander’s voice from behind this door just seconds before.”
Jessie: Tell me a little more about this extract. What is happening?
Patricia: *laughs* This is one of my favourite parts in the book. As humans, we often assume we know exactly what to expect based on our perceptions. But hearing can often be deceiving. I think that animals and dogs in particular have this amazing advantage over us, because their smell is so much more developed than ours. Did you know that digs have 50 times more olfactory receptors in their noses than we have and that the part of their brain responsible for analysing smells is 40 times bigger than ours?
To return to Joyful Trouble, at this moment in Grandad’s story we find out more about his youth and about how he felt as a fresh Ordinary Seaman in the Royal Navy. He is proud of his bell bottom trousers, white shirt and flat bottomed blue hat and eager to help and prove himself. So when he is summoned by his Commander-in-Chief he makes sure his uniform is spotless and presents himself without delay. He is nervous, about to knock at the Commander’s door; he braves himself, knows he did nothing wrong. He hears his Commander’s voice inviting him inside but when he opens the door and steps inside the Commander’s small office (we are inside a WWII war ship here, no space for Oval Offices) – what he sees behind his Commander’s desk is not the man he expects. And it isn’t another Officer either; actually, what he sees siting at the Commander’s desk, straight up on the Commander’s seat isn’t a human being. To find out what was it, simply download Joyful Trouble.
Jessie: How did you feel when you had finished writing your book, and did you miss any of the characters?
Patricia: Do you know that feeling you get when looking back on your children’s toddler years or on your pet’s time as a puppy? Children are big now; they have their own lives and dreams and don’t seem to need you all that much. Surely not to hold your hand or seek your body for comfort. Your dog might even take over your favourite chair at times, forcing you to seek comfort elsewhere as you have a sudden flashback of this clumsy puppy fitting perfectly in your lap, while still leaving space for a book and a coffee mug
I felt just like that, suddenly missing my characters, realizing that they are big now and ready to go out into the world on their own; they don’t need me anymore
I wished I could have spent more time with them, when they were just emerging in the corners of my mind. My heart ached, missing already the busy, loving Tommy, always hungry and ready to fetch and share a bite to eat, anything that would fit in his small hand. Loving his trusting nature, “ask and you shall receive” was his motto
My warmest thoughts follow Ana, so mature, on her way to becoming a Young Lady. So protective towards her little brother, so thoughtful and caring towards Grandad. I wish her a life of happiness and I hope that her tender, loving heart won’t know any ache, for she does care about anything and everything alive under the sun
And Grandad; I was happy for him, it is a great gift being able to share your life stories the way he did, in a fun and loving way, as much joy in giving as in receiving them. He is a great storyteller and I was grateful for him lending me his voice
And, of course, Joyful Trouble. How amazing and unselfish must a dog be to search all of his life for that one special person? Never loosing hope, sharing love and laughter along the way, day after day. I felt happy for him, knowing that he was appreciated and loved in return for just being himself.
Jessie: Who would you like to read your book and why? This could be another author, someone famous, a friend or a member of your family.
Patricia: I would like my book to be read by children and adults alike; by people seeking a story to uplift them or to amuse them. I would like it to be enjoyed as a bedtime story and shared by parents and children, or grandparents and grandchildren because it is a book filled with love, love and appreciation between generations as well as for animals. And I would like my book to be read by boys and girls in a bookshop, by themselves; choosing it for the dog on its cover, paging through it at first, then reading a bit, and a bit more, until they have to find out how it ends. And so they lose themselves in its pages, laughing with Tommy and cheering for Joyful Trouble.
Jessie: Why should I keep your book in my handbag?
Patricia: Joyful Trouble is a cheerful, heart-warming story based on true facts that is sure to brighten up your day. It is an easy read with lively dialogue, touching on the meaningful relationship between dogs and humans, but also between grandchildren and their grandfathers. It is a look at life through a child’s eyes, but also through those of a dog.
Jessie: What is the last sentence written in your writer’s notebook?
Patricia: “The right friend will come; have faith and wait.”
It is from a series of three children’s stories in rhymes based on true, unusual friendships between animals. They will be published later in 2017 on Amazon.
Jessie: What is the biggest challenge for an author?
Patricia: As an Indie Author, my biggest challenge is finding time to write. There is so much else to do, book related, but away from the writing desk! From promoting my other two books to being active on social media; from writing my Sunday column for mypuppyclub.net owned by lovely fellow author Susan Day to coming up with fresh ideas for articles on literature for the South African Huffington Post. I love doing Guest Posts and I thoroughly enjoyed promoting Joyful Trouble when it came out, just in time for the 2017 Kindle Storyteller! I found the world of Book Reviewers and Book Bloggers wonderful and extremely supportive, I am truly grateful to each and every one of them; yet finding the time to write those guest articles was a challenge.
I wish I would have known all this when my first book, Happy Friends, came out in 2016.
I mostly wish I could duplicate myself or need no sleep at all; then I could finally put on paper all the other ideas buzzing in my head!
I am ever so grateful to my alarm clock and my hubby for making sure we have a never-ending supply of coffee!
Jessie: What is the best advice that you have received as a writer?
Patricia: Write every day and have a writing routine. If you work on a big project, set yourself a daily target, word count wise, and don’t get up until you’ve reached it. Push yourself; no one else will do it for you.
Finish that first draft.
Be organised, especially if you work with other people. And be supportive of those who help you.
Read a lot.
As long as you love what you are doing it will never, ever feel like a chore.
Jessie: Tell me a little about your new book.
Patricia: My new book is called “Puppy:12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles”. It is about a puppy’s first year. It is filled with findings, wiggles and bursts of laughter. I thought it would unique to explore what goes through a puppy’s mind during his first days in a new home. It is aimed at children between the ages of three and six.
Jessie: Sounds like great fun! Can you read out an extract?
“I love new mornings
In my new home.
Each day I get something,
Today I’m getting a name.
Yesterday it was lots of cuddles
And a tea party too.
I got to sit on my bottom
And drink milk from a tiny cup.”
Jessie: It is so sweet! I can imagine children learning the words and reading them again and again.
Patricia: Yes, it’s an auditory feast for children, a fun read-aloud for parents, and a treat for dog-lovers, young and old.
Jessie: I feel honoured that you have decided to launch the book at the same time as this interview. It is a privilege to be able to present the reveal of your front cover. I am impressed with the way that you have overseen your entire book, including the illustrations – you are very dedicated to your writing.
“Puppy:12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles” is available for pre-order right now from Amazon, for £0.99.
Thank you so much, Jessie! You made me feel at home and I have thoroughly enjoyed your company and our chat.
More about Patricia…
Patricia is always spinning out a tale or thinking about one and they are mostly about animals, as she believes that each animal has a voice and a story to tell, if only we stop to listen. When she is not writing Patricia loves to spend time with her husband, their two children and dogs, baking, playing cards or enjoying a movie and popcorn together. One day, when she will be big and her dreams will come true, Patricia will most probably have a contract with a reputable publishing house that will take a huge load off her shoulders and she will, finally, be writing her dream book based on the plot she already worked out; a historical novel set in medieval Romania, her home country.
I am sure that Patricia’s books will give hours and hours of fun to children around the globe. The theme is timeless and these books will become an important part of childhood experiences. It is great to read books that entertain and educate. I’m sure that generations of parents will thank Patricia for her work, you can find out more on her author website and via social media – links below.
The best of luck to Patricia with her new book, “Puppy:12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles”.
Website: Alluring Creations, http://alluringcreations.co.za/wp/
Twitter: @PatFurstenberg, https://twitter.com/PatFurstenberg