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Worth Every Single Minute: The Patient Man by Joy Ellis

Writing.ie | Magazine | Crime | Interviews
Patient Man

By Joy Ellis

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When my publisher, Joffe Books, told me that I had been shortlisted in The British Book Awards, for crime thriller book of the year, I was amazed. Then I was sworn to secrecy… strict embargo on talking about it… tell no-one! Good grief! I wanted to tell everyone! But somehow I managed to keep the secret until the shortlist was finally announced by The Bookseller. Then I got my second shock, as the list comprised of Ian Rankin, Lee Child, Lucy Foley, Richard Osman, Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling)… and me. Visions of David and five Goliaths filled my head, and when my partner Jacqueline said, ‘For heaven’s sake, that’s like me running the 100 meters against Usain Bolt!’, the enormity of the situation hit me. The mere fact that my book, The Patient Man, had been selected to join those elite writers was almost overwhelming.

When the euphoria had calmed down, I could not help but realise just how far I’d come, and what a strange and convoluted road I’d travelled to get to this point.

Very few published authors are lucky enough to sail into print. I’m sure that a lot would tell you stories similar to mine; tales of rejection, self-doubt, and a battle against giving up and lugging all your precious manuscripts to the bottom of the garden and having a massive bonfire! However, on reflection, my ups and downs started a long time before I ever attempted to write a novel.

I started my working life as an apprentice florist: poorly paid, travelling into town from Kent every day, and working harder than I’d ever dreamed. I had a brilliant training in the heart of Mayfair, completed my four years successfully, but maybe because I was a gay girl in the late sixties/early seventies and life was far from easy, I never settled anywhere for long. I moved from home and joined the thousands of young people who lived in bedsit land, and things got very difficult. At some point I moved to Surrey, met someone who was to be my partner for 14 years, and did a variety of jobs, including working in a factory, a hospital, and a disco! Then we were offered a partnership in flower shop in Weybridge. We worked every hour imaginable, and built up a shop to be proud of, attracting some very high profile customers. When our business partner opted out, the shop became mine. We worked even harder, it flourished, and we added a small orchid importing business… but it took its toll and I became ill. I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. I’d known for a very long while that I was unwell, but had tried to keep going, which was the worst thing you could do with ME! I struggled to work even short hours, and the crunch finally came with the financial crash in 87 coinciding with the building of a massive supermarket close by that took our passing trade. We knew were on borrowed time.

During the years of being unwell, I dreamed of writing, and somehow, even though I was far from able, I managed to get myself on a two week writer’s course holiday, and the facilitator was Sue Townsend. Her incredible enthusiasm and love of writing was electric, and I knew that I was about to take a different direction in life. She was such an inspiration, and we remained in contact until she sadly passed away.

Back home, my health began to improve, but the shop was failing and the bank was baying for money. My partner decided to try to continue with the orchid importing, but it couldn’t have supported us both, and we knew the time had come to go our separate ways.

I packed up and drove into the sunset. I house sat, then stayed with some wonderful friends, rented a room for a while, and finally found a tiny flat. And there I started writing. Short stories to begin with, one was even taken by a weekly magazine! I got a job on the tills in WH Smith at Heathrow Terminal Four and then got promoted into the book department, where I saw the shelves full of books with their enticing covers and knew that was exactly where I wanted my book to be. When an opportunity to take the job as a manager in an independent bookshop came along, I grabbed it. And I loved it! By then I’d met Jacqueline, my married partner, who having done thirty years in the police force, was due to retire. We opted for a fresh start in the Lincolnshire Fens, and finally I had time to write.

Fairy tale ending? No such luck! I wrote for 12 years before I got an agent who managed to get two of my books published. I really believed this was it! But it quickly went out of print, my agent passed away, and I was back to square one, and lower than I can tell you. I don’t know how I kept writing, but I did, then one day I decided that this wasn’t fair on Jacqueline. It was time to call it a day. I didn’t want to, but I could see no future, writing books that no-one would read. Then within 24 hours of that decision, I had a call from Jasper Joffe at Joffe Books, he’d tracked me through an old local newspaper article. and loved the books!

Now, in five years, have 3 separate crimes series, that’s 23 books published, one new one with Audible for recording, and one in editing. We’ve made over 2.3 million sales, plus another 3 million books in pages read on Kindle Unlimited. The audiobook Their Lost Daughters was Breakout Crime Thriller of the Year by Audible and shortlisted for an Audie, and now… jump back to the beginning… The Patient Man Shortlisted for The British Book Awards.

Worth the pain? Worth the years of rejection?

Oh yes, all worth it. Every single minute.

(c) Joy Ellis

About The Patient Man:

From #1 best-selling author Joy Ellis, a totally absorbing mystery full of stunning twists and turns. Discover the author who’s sold over two million books globally.



The domestic bliss of Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman of Fenland Constabulary doesn’t last long. His nemesis, serial killer Alistair Ashcroft, is back in town and ready to tidy up unfinished business.

Ashcroft sends a sinister text to DS Marie Evans. His opening move in what will prove to be a lethal game of cat-and-mouse. Yet for all his taunts, where is he? In a county crawling with police on the lookout for him, Ashcroft is nowhere to be found.

Alongside the hunt for Ashcroft, normal police work must continue. The separate thefts of guns, six pigs, a thoroughbred stallion and some oil lead Jackman’s crew to the notorious Lorimer family, ruled over on their farm by the fearsome matriarch Rachel.

Meanwhile, a seemingly routine break-in at the home of gun-club owner Kenneth Harcourt quickly becomes more complicated when the man long held responsible for having killed Harcourt’s young daughter in a hit-and-run is shot dead in a carpark — by a sniper.

A killer is on the loose in the quiet streets of Saltern-le-Fen and he isn’t going to stop at claiming one life. But why is he focusing on young Kevin, so close to promotion to detective?


And the sniper, like Ashcroft, takes to taunting the police: they’ll never catch him, they need to respect him, they shouldn’t be side-tracked looking for their old adversary.

In a stunning conclusion, Jackman and Evans race against time to catch the sniper and track down their deadly adversary.

Full of twists and turns, this is a crime thriller that will keep you turning the pages until the shocking ending. Set in the atmospheric Lincolnshire Fens whose towns and isolated villages hide many dark secrets.


Order your copy online here.

About the author

Joy Ellis is not your ordinary newcomer to crime fiction. She started work in the 1960s as an apprentice florist in Covent Garden before opening her own flower shop in Lincolnshire. Later in life, she began to consider a career change towards crime writing and attended a workshop in Greece led by Sue Townsend, author of Adrian Mole. Ellis has now left the flowers behind and dedicates her life to writing gritty crime thrillers set in the Fens, where she lives with her police officer partner.

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