Certainly, and thank you for spending some time with me today. My name is Petrina Binney. I’m a self-published author, originally from Croydon. I now live in Devon, with my partner, five dogs, two rabbits, three corn snakes and a whole host of axolotls.
My earliest surviving short story is framed in my bathroom. It reads, ‘Once upon a time, there lived a sheep who loved a cow. One day he kissed her.’ I was only about four when I wrote it but I’m still rather proud of that one. I continued writing stories until my teens and twenties, when I wrote a lot of poetry. I only moved on to novel writing in my thirties.
I’m four novels in to my first series – Sex, Death and Dinner – which is scheduled to finish in book five. Through the titles, I’m working my way through a big dinner. The first in the series was ‘Sex, Death & Canapés’. Then came, ‘Sex, Death & Scallops’, ‘Sex, Death & Venison’ and ‘Sex, Death & A Vegetarian Alternative’. The fifth instalment will be ‘Sex, Death & Pudding’. It’s been suggested that, if there is a sixth, it should be called, ‘Sex, Death & Indigestion’. We’ll just see how that goes.
In addition to the main series, I published a short prequel, ‘The Girl With All The Cleavage’, early in 2019. I’ve also written a collected memoir – ‘Other People’s Granddads: Stories From The Legion’ – which is a selection of service stories from the men of my local Royal British Legion and is being sold in aid of the RBL’s Poppy Appeal.
I’m currently working on a selection of short stories, which I intend to release over the next few months, and very much hope people will enjoy.
If you had to give an elevator pitch for your short story, A Can of Worms, what would it be?
Excellent question. ‘A Can of Worms’ is the story of Jaxx, a twenty-eight-year-old compulsive liar. The action takes place inside Jaxx’s head during one of her sessions with Minette, the therapist she’s been in love with for the last six weeks. The trouble is: Jaxx is still deciding how much of the truth she can really reveal to Minette, given that she’s a known liar, but at the same time, Jaxx is the only one who knows that Minette is in danger.
How did the title A Can of Worms come about?
I went through so many titles for this one. It actually came about during the first set of edits. There was a line I loved but thought was a bit risqué. I was considering cutting the line out completely but it just kept making me laugh. In the end, I decided if I couldn’t get rid of it, I should underline it.
What lessons have you learnt about writing since you published your first book?
I’ve learnt so much in the last two years. The biggest lessons have been: to review everything – I know how much reviews mean to indie authors (our coffee budgets aren’t as secure as those of the famous types). I’ve learnt to carry a few copies of my paperbacks with me everywhere I go. Someone always asks, usually in the post office queue, if I have any copies for sale, and it’s completely maddening to have to say that I left them at home. And from my book launch, I learnt that if I’m going to drink my weight in Prosecco, I should probably cancel all plans for the next day.
What essentials do you need to have close to hand when you are in writing mode?
Coffee. I always need coffee. Notebook and pen, in case an idea for something else or something I was supposed to do, pops into my head when I should be focussed on the job at hand. Laptop, I can type much faster than I can write longhand, so I must have a working laptop. Chapstick – it’s almost an addiction. Any research books I’ve used, in case I need to flip through for clarification, especially on quail-keeping. (My main character in Sex, Death and Dinner has quail in her garden.)
I write at night when the rest of the household is asleep, so I don’t need to concern myself with headphones to avoid distractions. So long as I have my coffee, books, a pen, chapstick and laptop, I’m pretty much set.
What would you say is the best thing about writing? And on the flip side, what is the hardest?
The best thing about writing is knowing that something I’ve written has resonated with someone else. Perhaps someone I’ve never met. That’s an amazing feeling. I can’t think of anything even a little bit like it. People, just in conversation, have quoted me back to me. I’ve loved that.
The hardest thing about writing is dealing with other people’s expectations. I’ve had friends ask how my sales are (up and down), if I’m rich yet (nope), when I plan to give up writing (about twenty minutes post mortem). I’ve also had people list the problems I’m going to have making any cultural impact given that I’m not Danielle Steel or Jeffrey Archer. (That was a tricky evening but the chap has since asked me to ghostwrite a novel for him.)
If you could write in a collaboration with another author, who would you like to write with and why?
Excellent question. There are so many authors I admire. I should probably restrict myself to the living so, Margaret Atwood. I just love the way she sees things. She has such an eye for detail and her characters are utterly compelling. Frankly, I’d settle for a coffee with Margaret Atwood sometime.
What novel(s) have you read that you wish you had written?
I’ve read two novels recently that I absolutely wish I’d written – ‘Soul’s Choice’ by Kerri Davidson and ‘The Moth and Moon’ by Glenn Quigley. I only became aware of the novels because I follow their authors on Twitter and, via a few daily author games (including #AuthorConfession), I got to know them quite well. Now that I’ve read them, I admire Kerri Davidson and Glenn Quigley even more.
And finally, what can we expect from you next?
Well, my second short story of 2020, ‘It’s The Landing That Hurts’ is coming out on Amazon in the next few days.
‘In the wake of an accident, hospital tea-lady, Denise, spends her afternoons chatting to comatose Camilla. But during the course of this one-sided conversation, it becomes clear that Denise isn’t quite what she appears to be…’
Thank you for having me.
Here are my links:
Facebook: Petrina Author
All book links in bold are Amazon UK Affiliate links which will earn me a few pence if anyone clicks through and makes a purchase - any money earned will go towards buying books or gifts for giveaways.