Pat Skillicorn
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Foxgloves

Foxgloves by Pat SkillicornJust before Christmas 2006, my first book, Wave to your Daddy, appeared in the bookshops of the Isle of Man.  I’d been working on this book for quite some time and felt at a loss when I finished it.  I was idling through the internet one evening in February 2007 and came across a course at Lancaster University – MA in Creative Writing.  The closing date for applications was just a few days away.  On impulse, I filled in the application form and posted it off, not expecting anything more than a polite rejection.  I was amazed to receive a letter a few weeks later offering me a place to begin the following autumn.

I have to admit that it felt quite surreal at times to be in a university atmosphere again after so many years.  To my relief, the members of my own course covered a wide age range and, in any case, as the first term drew on, I realised that it didn’t matter anyway. We were all there for the same purpose - to become better writers. 

The stories in my new collection, Foxgloves, are based on the portfolio I had to produce for the final assessment.  At first, I kept close to what I knew – family and the Isle of Man.  Anyone who has read Wave to your Daddy will recognise certain themes in the twelve stories. (One is very short, a mini-story). I was surprised to find these themes so often focus on the question of identity. Where did that come from?

Cuckoo… The old woman regarded the boy’s face framed by the crimson tassels.

‘Oh him.  He’s like himself,’ she said and turned away.

Roots… The two couples were standing under a tree a few yards from the footpath that ran from the shore up into the hills.

‘It was around here somewhere.’ The fat woman looked around the glade and then turned apologetically, lifting her huge shoulders.

‘It’s been years since I was ever here.’

At Lancaster, we spent a lot of time in the Graduate bar, talking books and writing.  It was so valuable to have all that enthusiasm and mutual support and it’s given me the courage to press on with my writing.

Thanks to Colin Brown for the use of a photograph from his own collection as the cover of Foxgloves.

Foxgloves is available from Manx bookshops and online from Lexicon Book Shop.
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Wave to Your Daddy