Victoria Scott’s novel, Patience, was published by Head of Zeus on 5 August 2021.
Victoria kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Patience.
Patience is the story the Willow family – mum Louise, dad Pete and daughters Eliza and Patience – who all struggle, in very different ways, with the decision to enter Patience, who is profoundly disabled and can’t communicate her wishes, into an experimental gene therapy trial. Although the book sounds very serious, Patience is actually a very funny character. She’s sassy, clever and complex. And really, the core message of the novel is the power of unconditional love. I hope reading it will leave people with that upmost in their minds.
2. What inspired the book?
Patience was inspired by my sister Clare, who has Rett syndrome. Despite the fact we’ve never been able to speak to each other, we have an “unspoken language,” something I was determined to feature in the book; the bond between Patience and her sister Eliza is incredibly strong. I also really wanted to shine a light on the challenges families caring for disabled children face, and how this affects their relationships and mental health.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
A bit of both! I have a sketchy plan in a spreadsheet which details the main things that are supposed to happen in each chapter, but it’s always subject to change. It’s incredible how your characters can surprise you, even though you created them; I guess that’s the magic of fiction.
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
I don’t think I was prepared for how long everything takes. It was 18 months from signing my book deal to Patience’s release, which seemed like an eternity. It will be 11 months between hardback and paperback publication, too, when it comes out in paperback next July. You learn (ironically!) to be very patient.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I’m a journalist by trade, and I still work part-time at the BBC, as well as lecturing in journalism at Kingston University. When I do get time to myself (and I have two kids, so that’s relatively rare) I like to bake and go for long walks in the countryside.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Oh golly, that’s too hard! I think I’d go mad reading any book that many times. If I really, really had to choose, I think it’d probably be a huge compendium of poetry from across the ages which I could just dip in and out of.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
I am sure everyone wants to know “Is Eliza actually you?” and they don’t ever ask outright. The answer is – a few bits of Eliza’s life come from my own experience, but no, she’s her own person. I’m nowhere near as full of angst, thankfully.
About the Book
The Willows have been through a lot. Louise has devoted her life to caring for her disabled youngest daughter. Pete works abroad, almost never seeing his loved ones. And their eldest, Eliza, is burdened by all the secrets she’s trying to keep from her overloaded family.
Meanwhile, Patience observes the world while trapped in her own body. She laughs, she cries, she has opinions and knows what she wants. But those who love her most – and make every decision about her life – will never know.
Or will they? When the Willows are offered the opportunity for Patience to take part in a new gene therapy trial to cure her Rett syndrome, they face an impossible dilemma. Are the very real risks worth the chance of the reward, no matter how small?