I'm delighted to welcome Ruth Ware to Random Things today. Ruth is the author of In A Dark Dark Wood, published by Harvill Secker (Vintage) at the end of last month.
I reviewed In A Dark Dark Wood here on the blog last week. Here's just a taste of what I had to say about it:
"In a Dark Dark Wood is chilling and sinister and sent shivers down my spine on more than one occasion. It's not just a psychological thriller, although it is a very very good one, it's also a look at friendship and hurt and let downs. It is a study of how a jealous mind can work, it's a lesson in misunderstanding and regret.
I absolutely loved In A Dark Dark Wood, it thrilled me and chilled me and surprised me and shocked me. A really excellent debut, I'd highly recommend it "
If that has whetted your appetite, please do go and check out my full review.
Welcome to Random Things Ruth, and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions
Do you read reviews of your novels? Do you take them seriously?
I go through phrases but in general I try not to read them (accent on the "try") not because I don't think they are valuable or worth reading, but more because I feel that reviews are for readers, not authors. I love reading reviews for books other than my own, and really enjoy seeing how other people approached books I loved or loathed, but I tend to find that reading reviews of my own book fills me with either self-loathing, or an unattractive big-headedness. I don't think either feeling makes me a better writer!
How long does it take to write a novel?
About 6 months to a year depending on the level of distractions going on in the rest of my life!
Do you have any writing rituals?
I have primary-aged kids so my ritual is the rather prosaic "drop them at school and then race back to do as much writing as possible in the 4 hour window before pickup".
What was your favourite childhood book?
I was a complete bookworm and had about 4 million favourites at any one time, but I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder, Enid Blyton, Diana Wynne Jones... too many to count.
Name one book that made you laugh? Name one book that made you cry?Same book for both - The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford. Rare to be able to do both!
Which fictional character would you like to meet?
Dr Maturin from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels.
Which book would you give to your best friend as a present?
It would depend on where she was at at the time. The last book I gave to a friend was the Mildred's Cookbook because I thought she needed a treat, and I know she loves Mildred's. The book that I've pressed into most hands over the last year has been How to be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis.
Are you inspired by any particular author or book?
Reading back through In a Dark, Dark Wood I realised how much Agatha Christie was in there. It wasn't intentional, but I did read her a lot as a teen and I think she constructs plot absolutely masterfully. I guess some of that must have seeped out!
What is your guilty pleasure read?
I don't believe in guilty pleasures. If it's a pleasure and it's not hurting anyone, you shouldn't feel guilty!
Who are your favourite authors?
Again, too many to list really but everyone already listed (Nancy Mitford, Patrick O'Brian etc) plus Josephine Tey, Irene Nemirovsky, Daphne du Maurier, Rose Tremain, Dorothy L Sayers, Margaret Forster, Colette, Elena Ferrante, Robert Graves... I could write a page of names and I still wouldn't be finished! I also love reading food writers - Claudia Roden, Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, Ruby Tandoh...
What book have you re-read?
I re-read all the time, but the book I re-read most recently was The Leopard by Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa because I was on holiday in Italy and it seemed like the perfect scene-setting.
What book have you given up on?
Again too many to list, but the one I've given up on most times is Anna Karenina which I've tried at least three or four times and never made it past about halfway. I think it's the names. Just when you've figured out which first name, patronymic and title matches which character he goes and throws in some weird nickname that bears no resemblance to any of them. I've not given up giving up though. I'm considering it a project for my retirement when I will hopefully have more time and patience...