Patricia Cleary of Delmar flirts a little with her own reality in a fictional life she created in her recent book, “Beneath the Roses.”
The almost 83-year-old woman has certainly experienced the ups and downs of life.
“I grew up in Amsterdam the youngest of six children. There was no chance of my going to college until I received a scholarship from the Century Club and then another scholarship from St. Rose,” Cleary says.
Cleary married Edward Murphy in 1952 and had two daughters. Less than 20 years later, her husband passed away.
“I was married and moved from Cohoes to Latham where my husband died at 38. I married Thomas Cleary in 1974 and acquired three more children to love,” she says.
It wasn’t until just before her second husband’s death that Cleary began to write her book.
The book, which is dedicated to “my real life Edward and Thomas,” Cleary calls fiction.
“They are the two loves of my life. This is my thank you to them for loving me,” she says.
Cleary says she didn’t have a clue really what she would write about the day she sat down with pen and paper. She had written short stories and poetry in the past, but nothing that was published.
“I sat down to write and it kind of pulled itself together as I was writing,” she says. “I always think that something else creates this in me outside of myself.”
What Cleary came up with is what she describes as a romantic mystery – a story about a woman who leaves her hometown to escape her memories. Bringing her children with her, she discovers a secret that makes her realize you cannot escape the past.
“It’s based a little bit on an autobiography. I do have three children those ages. One of my kids is Kathy. I was widowed at the same age of the woman telling the story. I married a widower. It’s somewhat based on my own life experience,” Cleary admits.
The main character in the story is a recently widowed mother of three who moves to a new town so that she wouldn’t constantly be reminded of her husband, says Cleary.
“While her children are in school, she is taking a ride and sees this lovely old house that attracts her,” Cleary says. “One of her hobbies is painting and sketching, so she decides while the children are finishing school she would sketch the house.”
The woman ends up meeting a man who tends the roses at the home she is drawing.
“She becomes absorbed in a story he tells her about the owner of the house and the tragedy that happened in the house,” she says.
Clearly says she has always enjoyed writing.
“As far back as high school, I wrote short stories and poetry, but then my life as a nurse was such a practical thing. I have always had a naturalist side. Being a nurse is kind of reality. I think i had a little retreat part of me that would retreat into fantasy. You are in control of the lives of the people you create as an author,” she says.
Clearly began to write “Beneath the Roses” in 2007. She says it sat there for a long time before she did anything with it.
“It sat there all those years,” she says. “Then I finally went to a writer’s club in Florida and they were so enthused that I said, ‘well, I think it’s time to do something.’”
Cleary did some research about self publishing and not long after was holding her book in her hands.
“Self publishing was easy. Troy Publishing Company did all the work for me. The most complicated thing was finding someone to edit it,” she says. It took three women, my daughter-in- law who is a teacher, a friend in Arizona and a woman in Florida. She called me and said, ‘I would be honored to edit it,’ and bless her heart, she did.”
Cleary said she doesn’t plan on making money on the book, though it can be found in several bookstores in the Capital District.
“My goal was just to do it,” she says. “It’s really a thrill to see your finished book product with your name on it.”
Cleary spends part of the year in Florida where she said she decided to go a step further and make her book available for the blind.
‘I went to a professional recorder and now have three CDs that I want to make professionally to donate to Books For the Blind,” she says.
When asked if she will write a sequel, Cleary laughs and says, “You know, I am going to be 83 next Tuesday.”
But age doesn’t seem to matter to Clearly.
“The thing I got the most from people reading it was, ‘I was so sad when it ended, I wanted more’. That’s a great critique. They didn’t get up until it was done and wanted to know what happens next.”
Cleary said her mind hasn’t quite determined what happened next, but the answer is brewing somewhere inside her.
“My imagination is not quite 83 yet,” she laughs.
Patricia Cleary’s book, “Beneath the Roses” can be found at I Love Books in Delmar, The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza or through Troy Publishing.