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EPIC’s Patrick Foster publishes book ‘Might Bite’: Q&A

EPIC Risk Management’s Head of Delivery (Education and CSR), Patrick Foster, has written the book ‘Might Bite’, which is to be published on February 3rd, 2022. The book speaks of Patrick’s story, having suffered a devastating pathological gambling addiction, and his recovery journey. 

Since finding recovery, the former professional cricketer, insurance broker and independent schoolteacher has worked for EPIC sharing his journey and lived experience with young people and their parents who may be experiencing similar difficulties, inspiring them to have the courage and confidence to reach out for help.

EPIC caught up with Patrick to talk about ‘Might Bite’ and his publishing journey:

EPIC: When did you first start considering putting your story into words, Patrick, and how long has it taken from inception to reality to make this happen?

PF: I have always thought about the idea of writing a book or putting it down in words. The idea actually first materialised in March 2020 which coincided with us being locked down. Part of the motivation was inspired by Paul who asked me if I’d thought about how I’d get through this period of lockdown, obviously focusing on my recovery, and if I’d ever thought about writing a book. I said I had and there seemed like no better opportunity with very little else to do. I had two ambitions during that lockdown. One was to get fitter and lose some weight and the other was to write a book. I managed both I think! But yes, it has basically been the best part of two years since the day I first wrote a down a word. I initially wrote around 90,000 words in six weeks! I kind of poured my heart out into my laptop. It was quite a cathartic process and what I first wrote was very raw. It has been a long way down the line to get to where it is now but it’s obviously a proud moment!

 EPIC: Though you’ve told your story so powerfully to large audiences on so many occasions, how great was the challenge of presumably having to dig even deeper to provide the extra depth that goes into extended written storytelling?

PF: Yes, I did have to dig really deep and at times, it was very tough. It brought back and stirred a lot of emotion but as I said in my previous comment, it was also cathartic and actually really helped. It was good to air things that I hadn’t previously, but I had to be very cognisant and sensitive of other people as well and think about the impact that it might have on them, because whilst people knew a lot and knew my story, they didn’t know the finer details. So yes, it was tough but at the same time I think a positive experience.

EPIC: Has the process of writing ‘Might Bite’ reminded you of long-forgotten moments in your journey that you’re now adding to the presentations you give in person?

PF: There were things that I actually wouldn’t admit in front of large audiences but weirdly when you put them on paper it seems ok, if that makes sense? It was tough and people say that I must have an unbelievable memory, which I think I do but also, I didn’t do it all off the top of my head. I had to dig deep through emails, and messages, and all that kind of thing, which was quite tough, but all in all it has worked out.

EPIC: How did you get to know your co-author, Will Macpherson?

PF: Will is a close friend. He’s actually better friends with my brother, that’s how I know him. He’s also a very well-known and successful cricket journalist. When I finished writing the book, I thought what do I do now? I shared it with several people in the world of journalism and asked if they knew anything about writing a book. Will took it on as a project. He was furloughed at the time because of what was going on, so it was the perfect timing for him. He’d always had ambitions to write a book and particularly one with connections to cricket, so it was like a match made in heaven.

EPIC: How did you find the process of transcribing your own story but with someone else’s input?

PF: The fact that I knew him, given how sensitive the topic was, I think was very important and has worked well because whilst he has dug deep and pushed a lot of buttons, he has done so in a way that is respectful, not just to me but, also to people around me. He knows my family very well. One of the most challenging things was doing all of this over Zoom. That was difficult because there was no personal interaction. I was also working through Zoom, so I had endless Zoom calls. I’ve also never written so many WhatsApp messages or left so many voice notes in my life! It had its challenges and I think, at times, we probably both found it difficult but that was all a part of the process and made it even more rewarding when it was done. The writing was much more straight-forward than the proof-reading, going back over it and making changes. This must be done but was quite arduous, particularly when we were juggling it with day-to-day work.

EPIC: It appears that ‘Might Bite’ is already striking a chord with a number of very high-profile supporters; how does it feel to know that so many people in the public eye are standing alongside you and supporting your work?

PF: It’s incredible and I never really thought it would happen. It’s very humbling and yes, it means a huge amount! Some of them, I probably have closer connections to, and they’ve been very supportive, but I think it says a lot about them as individuals too. They want to get behind this message and do their bit when they have so much going on and everything they do is in the public eye. It doesn’t feel real at times and I’m very lucky and obviously, incredibly grateful.

EPIC: You’ve been no stranger to talking about your experiences via the media on numerous occasions, but with a packed schedule of interviews going on, how are you finding the intensity of the broadcast opportunities that your publishers have arranged for you?

PF: In terms of the talking elements, I definitely have a face for radio so that has been ok and telling my story is obviously what I’m used to. At times, it’s quite difficult because it’s easy to underestimate how emotionally exhausting it is! But it’s worth it and I have become very accustomed to it, so it isn’t as difficult. Certainly, I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone in a few cases with photoshoots and when you get put in front of media there is that element of pressure. But overall, I’ve enjoyed it and it has been really good. I think in a few weeks’ time, when it’s all over and the book is out, I might be ready for a breather.

EPIC: What sort of organisations have been taking an interest?

PF: It has been interesting from a media point of view. I think the timing of the book is good because it’s very relevant. It’s a hot topic with the Gambling Act review happening and more and more people talking and it with the issue being very prominent. With my background in sport, there has always been that angle of sport’s relationship with gambling. So, a lot of organisations linked to sport in some capacities have been interested. But as we all know, it’s an issue affecting all sorts of different people from walks of life, so we’ve had a real range of different organisations being interested. You really notice the power of social media too because you see somebody share it and before you know it, someone you don’t know has seen it that previously wouldn’t have. From that perspective, it has really widened the reach!

EPIC: You’ve also got a book signing coming up in the months ahead; does it feel as though the important message that the book is intended to convey is already having a positive impact on awareness of this crucial topic?

PF: Yes, I think so. Obviously, the book signing is not a book I ever wanted to be signing, if that makes sense. But that’ll be a big moment. It doesn’t feel real. I kind of feel like a bit of a fraud… ‘why am I doing this?’… but it’s an amazing opportunity to raise awareness and that was one of the big motivating factors for me, to make my story accessible to everybody. They will be great experiences and I’m grateful to those kind of organisations and events for buying into my story and its message.

EPIC: Is there one key outcome or a number of important outcomes that you hope the book will achieve, both for yourself and the wider public when they get the chance to read it?

PF: Yes, I have said all along that the three things I really want to get across in it are to raise of this as an addiction but also the impact it has on other people. I talk a lot about me, my story, and the impact it had on me but it also had a huge impact on my family, friends and other people around me. I think it’s very important for people to understand that. I think the second reason is try to take away the stigma that I still believe is attached to gambling and gambling addiction but also to mental health issues more generally. It’s much less of a taboo subject which is brilliant, but I think for people to have young-ish, dare I say it, male role-models talking about these things is really important. I also really wanted to de-spell the myth around around gambling addiction and that it only happens to certain people or certain types and genders because that’s not true either. Most importantly, I think the biggest thing for me was for somebody who is struggling with an addiction themselves or knows someone who is. It might help them and it might encourage them to reach out for help, to talk, to do the biggest and bravest thing and actually do something about it. To show that recovery is possible, that there is hope and way out. It isn’t easy or just solved when you admit you have a problem, but it’s the first step! It’s a huge cliché and I say it all the time, but if it helps one person it’s worth it and if it helps loads, even better! 

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