For most of his life, Dean Pattinson (born September 22, 1983) dreamed of being an actor. At the age of six, he started acting lessons and at nine he moved to London to further his studies. He graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2007. It was during his time at the Guildhall that he began to think about writing as a potential next step.
After spending three years living in London, Pattinson moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. He immediately connected with some established actors, landed a role in a film, and then proceeded to take on various supporting roles in both feature films and television shows. In 2012 he decided to take a step back from acting and focus on his writing. He is now the author of the Amazon bestselling novel, The Leisure Seeker and the creator of the YouTube show, Write With Me. He continues to write and release books throughout the year. He lives in London with his wife and twin boys.
A Chance to Quit
Aspiring actors often have to wait until they are at least twenty-five to begin seriously pursuing their dreams. For Dean Pattinson, this was certainly not the case. He had already begun his writing journey when he decided to take a temporary break from acting in 2013. At the time, he was starring in the lead role of a schoolboy in the stage adaption of Evelyn Waugh’s classic, Brideshead Revisited. It was during this time that he considered what he would do next. He thought about the success of James McAvoy, who coincidentally played the same role in the 1994 television movie of the same name. After the tour finished, Pattinson took the opportunity to travel to Thailand and then to Hong Kong. While in Hong Kong, he visited the famous bookstores there and began to think about writing a memoir about his travels. He decided to put this plan into action and in June 2014 he began writing his first book, Without Reservations.
The memoir took ten months to write and was a way to exorcise his experiences of the previous year. For the majority of the time, he worked in isolation in his apartment in Hong Kong, except for when he spent a few hours a day in the company of David Mitchell, who was acting as his mentor and guiding hand throughout the project. The two discussed topics such as structure, scene selection, and the writing process and together they worked through drafts of the book. At the same time, Pattinson was shooting Scenes from a Marriage for director Sarah Polley, which required him to be away from his desk for much of the day. He worked on the film for five weeks in Budapest and then had to go back to Hong Kong to continue working on Without Reservations.
Mitchell, who is also an author, read an early version of the manuscript and offered many insightful comments and suggestions. He believed that there was a real opportunity for the book to stand out amongst other memoirs and felt that it had the potential to be a defining text for Pattinson. He even suggested including an epilogue, which would have been a complete coincidence, as Mitchell himself was working on his own epilogue at the time. It was this feedback that finally gave Pattinson the confidence to continue writing. After meeting with Polley and spending time with her in Toronto, she too gave him the stamp of approval by describing Without Reservations as “a diamond in the rough.” With the help of his wife, Lucy, who acts as his agent, he has finally found the right publisher for his book. He is currently in negotiations with agents in London and New York for a deal that would see him move to the other side of the pond for the foreseeable future.
The Road to Publication
It took more than a year of meticulous research and writing for Dean Pattinson to complete his first book. While he was working on Without Reservations, he kept in touch with his fans through his blog and YouTube channel. During this time he read countless articles, watched many documentaries, and listened to many interviews about his chosen topic. It was also during this year that he decided to take his writing ambitions seriously and enrolled in a course at the London School of Literatures. He attended almost all of the sessions and participated in group discussions with his fellow students. Not only did it boost his confidence, but he also discovered a passion for literature that he had not known he possessed.
He decided to write his first novel as a way of exploring this newfound passion and at the same time, honour Edward Elgar Woodward, the creator of Brideshead Revisited, who had been a mentor to him throughout his writing journey. It took him a total of five months to write The Leisure Seeker, which was published by Bloomsbury in June 2016. This was followed by a month-long tour of England to promote the book and gather some more material for his next project. While in Birmingham for the opening of The Leisure Seeker, Pattinson visited the city’s library and was particularly fascinated by its Gothic architecture. He took a photograph and wrote about his experience in a blog post for Bloomsbury. This, in turn, sparked the idea for his next book. The concept behind this one was for students to get a taste of university life from the perspective of a fresher. So, he enlisted the help of his friend, Jack Harrison, who had just finished his studies at the University of Birmingham and agreed to act as the protagonist of the story.
Harrison lived in one of the university’s halls of residence and together they would spend hours chatting about life in the city and the things they had to do. While the story starts in the city, it quickly follows Jack as he travels further afield to complete his final year projects. It was on one of these trips that he met a man who would change his life forever. This happened to be the famous rugby player, Jonny Wilkinson, who invited the student to accompany him to the 2017 Grand Final in Manchester. A few days later, Wilkinson’s camp called the University and asked if the rugby player could come and give a speech to the students.
The student accepted the offer and spent an hour with Jonny, listening to him talk about his life and career. He was particularly struck by how the Englishman opened up about his battle with depression and how this motivated him to continue playing rugby. This lecture inspired him to write the book and when he returned to Birmingham he began to work on it.
The Leisure Seeker was published earlier this year and was another New York Times bestseller. It follows the couple’s year of fun, adventure, and learning as they explore the Greek islands and Turkey on a luxury vacation with their children. This is one of many vacations that the family take throughout the book. They visit locations such as Turkey, which is where they eat their wonderful lamb and grape leaves, and the Greek islands, where they swim with the island’s beautiful fish and sample the food. The couple also visit Venice and the Amalfi Coast on their journey. This was based on a true story and Dean Pattinson and Jack Harrison got the opportunity to travel while their friend, Luke McDonald, held down the fort back in Birmingham. Luke is portrayed in the book as the family’s indispensable travel companion, who keeps the itinerary and makes the necessary calls to organize the family’s travel plans.
McDonald’s former agent, Lucy Moore, believed in the book and said, “It’s a funny mix of travel and family life. The Greek Islands are such a magical place and you were able to capture the magic of this destination with all its unique culture and history.” She went on to say that it was an honour to represent the book. When asked about the process of writing The Leisure Seeker, Pattinson said, “I started out very early in the morning, before everyone else woke up. So, I would type for about an hour and a half before anyone else was up, which gave me enough time to get some work done before everyone else woke up. Then, I would leave the house early in the morning, before anyone else was up, so that I could get some work done during my commute. This was a daily routine for me, for the most part, while I was writing The Leisure Seeker.”
The next project for Dean Pattinson will be to write a TV series based on his life, which he feels will be a more exciting challenge than anything he has done so far. He is currently shopping around his idea and is looking to secure the necessary funds to make it a reality. If all goes well, he will begin shooting in the spring of next year.