Profile

Patricia Olson (née DeSena) ’58

Alumni, Arts and Media


 

Published:

April 4, 2012
Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English, Garden City
 

Patricia Olson (née DeSena) ’58

Alumni, Arts and Media


 

Member of Adelphi University’s Profiles in Success program.

Writer and Poet
Author of “
Frumpy: The Pumpkin Who Missed Halloween”

Involvement at Adelphi: Co-chairman of All College Night; Member of Tri Delta, the Spanish Club, and the Newman Club; DJ of her own radio show at WBAU

Memorable professors: William Curry, who brought literature alive, and Owen Groves, who was demanding but wonderful—he brought out the best in his students.

Advice: Take advantage of all Adelphi has to offer. Challenge yourself—you will find things within yourself that you never knew were there.

Creative Soul Rekindles Earliest Passion

"Frumpy: The Pumpkin Who Missed Halloween" by Patricia OlsonPublished in December 2008, Patricia Olson’s first children’s book, Frumpy: The Pumpkin Who Missed Halloween, is a story of a pumpkin whose determination to be part of Halloween leads him to a place no pumpkin has ever been. “Never give up on a goal you have set for yourself,” says Patricia. That is one lesson to be learned from Frumpy. “You may not achieve your exact goal, but you may discover something even better.” This theme rings true in Patricia’s own life story.

At Adelphi, Patricia was fascinated by an advertising course she took. “It made me decide I wanted to become a copywriter,” she says. After graduation, she was hired by Ted Bates & Company, an advertising agency in New York City. She began her career as an assistant in the film production department and began writing copy on her own. She eventually became a copywriter/film producer, writing and producing television commercials for Marx Toys and other accounts. “It was more fun than work,” says Patricia, who loved working with children and toys such as Bounceroo, Go-Go Rock, Chopperoo, Wild Rider, Thumball, and Chuckle Bug.

Patricia fell in love with California while filming commercials there, and after a successful 13-year career in advertising, she moved to the golden state in 1972. Once in California, she found herself working in the travel industry, an opportunity that allowed her “to see the world.” Later she returned to the film industry, joining International Creative Management as assistant to the head of the Motion Picture Department.

After four years at the talent agency, she decided to pursue her writing career. She devoted her time to poetry and writing children’s stories inspired by the stories she would tell her small grandchildren. “I always had a vivid imagination, so I would make up stories,” she says. About six years ago, Patricia had an idea… What would happen if a pumpkin took too long to grow and missed Halloween? She came home from her grandchildren’s house and wrote a rough draft. The next time she visited, she read her story to her grandchildren at bedtime. “They were entranced by it,” she recalls, and thought to herself, ‘Wow, maybe there is something to this story.’

She had not thought of publishing Frumpy until other people read it and encouraged her to think about publishing it. At the Festival of Books at UCLA, a fellow writer suggested that she join the Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators. She began attending conferences and workshops, learning the rules and refinements of crafting a children’s story.

After Frumpy underwent numerous critiques and revisions, Patricia chose to self-publish her book. “It’s a long process to submit a book to a publisher, and I wanted my story to be a book while my grandchildren were still young,” she explains. “Frumpy is a picture book, and I learned that commercial publishers choose the illustrator and the author has no say in the final look of the book. I hired my illustrator, and it was a joy working together, watching Frumpy come to life before our eyes.” she says.

While her career as a writer of children’s stories began later in life, Patricia has had a love of poetry since childhood. Her first poems were written in greeting cards. She honed her skills at Adelphi, taking poetry and other writing courses. Her poem “The Art of Judo,” is a reflection of her 30 years in the sport of Judo, earning a black belt and winning several national competitions. The poem was published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2007. “It’s rewarding when you see what began as a group of words and ideas come together in a poem,” she says. Patricia has written children’s poems as well.

It was at Adelphi that Patricia decided her love for writing could lead to a rewarding career. “My time at Adelphi was precious to me,” she says. “It’s where I grew. It’s where I found myself.”

Patricia is a member of the Society for Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, serves on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Kaufman Brentwood Branch Library, and produces the Pat Pincus Poetry Fest each year. She has attended the Idyllwild Summer Poetry Program for several years and given readings there. She has worked with poets such as Cecelia Woloch, Richard Garcia, Marie Howe, and Suzanne Lummis.

Today Patricia lives with her husband and three tortoises in West Los Angeles. She has eight grandchildren; Frumpy is dedicated to the three youngest. Patricia is presently working on another children’s story while she is promoting Frumpy.

 
Tagged: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English, Garden City
 
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