East and Bays Courier
Childhood dream becomes reality
A childhood home groaning with books and a life-long love of stories were the inspiration behind One Tree Hill author Patricia Bell’s debut novel, The Library of Unfinished Business.
The novel, released this month, tells the story of a small-town librarian who dies in a fiery car crash and finds himself in a very unexpected afterlife while his daughter on Earth struggles tomourn the father she never really knew.
It’s a story about the magic of storytelling, the importance of living bravely, and the power of love to triumph, even over death.
Bell says inspiration for the novel was under her nose from when she was little.
‘‘My parents were both avid readers, and books were everywhere: they filled dozens of bookcases, various cupboards, boxes in the garage and even the space under the house. So how could I not end up publishing a novel about books and stories?’’
The author’s work as an editor – she owns her own editing and proofreading business, Bellbird Words – also informs her writing.
‘‘Stories inspire me every day. Not only do I read for the love of it, but I work with authors as they prepare to publish – and I wanted to say something about the power of words and stories to capture and share the human experience; how telling the stories of our lives can change us and bring us closer to those we love.’’
Although now based in One Tree Hill, Bell lived for some years in Remuera – and one local heritage building managed to
‘‘There are one or two hints at Aotearoa, but I wanted this book to be universal, not obviously New Zealand.’’
find its way into her novel.
‘‘I purposely set the parts of the book that take place on Earth in an unspecified location,’’ she says.
‘‘There are one or two hints at
Aotearoa, but I wanted this book to be universal, not obviously New Zealand. All street names and place names are fictional – although the library that my protagonist worked at was loosely based on Remuera Library. I have fond memories of taking my daughter there every week when she was little.’’
Bell says readers should expect the unexpected when reading The Library of Unfinished Business. It’s full of humour and surprises and twists and turns, but ultimately, everyone will relate to the themes.
‘‘At the heart, it’s about the relationship between a father and daughter. That’s what made the story worth writing, and that’s why it’s worth reading.’’