FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS…
I don’t think you become a writer – I think it’s something that is in you. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember and as a child I filled endless notebooks with stories about ponies and forced my poor family to read them. A few years ago I decided that rather than just dreaming about being an author I was going to really go for it. I wrote my first novel in about five months and writing it was the easy bit. There then followed endless rejections from agents and publishers and it was soul destroying. I didn’t give up though and writing about what I knew proved to be the key and I started Katy Carter Wants a Hero, the very fictional tale (!) of a teacher who dreams of being a best selling novelist. I worked away night after night and all my friends forgot who I was but it was worth it because this manuscript attracted the attention of literary agents and publishers. Lots of editing, despair and rewriting later the hard work paid off and Orion bought the book! Even Richard and Judy were talking about it and I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to be published. Writing is the best job in the world..
Writing under several pen names can be a bit confusing at times but it’s also enormous fun. My boyfriend says it’s great because he gets to be with several women all rolled into one! Being a writer I love pretending to be somebody else and I guess this is just another way of exploring imaginary worlds and identities. So far I’ve been Jessica Fox for five books and Georgie Carter and Holly Cavendish (my book with Pan Macmillan), as well as writing under my own name for Notting Hill Press and Orion. The writing under different names happened because I was writing in slightly different genres and for three different publishing houses. I was keen to keen my brand Ruth Saberton identity very different and distinctive. You’d be surprised just how many writers have several pen names. Readers have expectations of a writer and you never want to confuse, or even worse, disappoint them. This year I have a novel out called He Loves Me Knot under the name Lucy Hepburn. The Lucy Hepburn books are really big in Germany and this novel will be published there first.
It has to be Jilly Cooper, without a shadow of a doubt. “Riders” was the big 1980s bonk buster that all my friends were reading and it was racy and sexy and best of all it was about horses! I read it and of course I couldn’t put it down. I had always wanted to be a writer and this was the book which moved me from reading and writing pony stories to reading adult fiction and thinking about writing it too. Jilly is terribly under rated. Yes, she’s cheeky but all her characters have such charm and energy and as a reader you can’t help but be swept up by them. Jilly writes about nature in a really lyrical manner and her love for the English countryside shines through. She’s also been very supportive of me as a writer and her advice, “the harder I work, the luckier I get” is advice that I have taken to heart. I can’t wait to get my hands on her next book.
I love everything about writing and it’s difficult to think of worst parts. Meeting new characters who suddenly have their own voices, plots that head off in directions I had never anticipated, escaping into a new world for hours, meeting and talking to lovely readers – the list goes on and on. I adore this job and there is nothing else that I would ever want to do. I also love that I can work anywhere in the world and at anytime. On a train, in a cafe, in the middle of the night. Sometimes I like to write in bed - one of the best bits about being a writer, especially is it's blowing a gale across the sea and the rain is lashing down! On Saturday mornings I tend to write for a few hours in our local coffee shop while my boyfriend works on his boat or sorts out the horses. I also love it that all I need is my imagination and my Mac and that’s it! The actual sitting down and writing part is the hardest part. It is suddenly very tempting to procrastinate when you have a deadline. Self doubt can creep in too and that nasty little emotion has to be stamped on very hard. Writers are sensitive people and you have to learn to grow a thick skin. I’m not talking about refusing to take on board constructive criticism – which is healthy and important – I mean the unkind reviews and comments that will arise from time to time. You need to have determination, motivation, discipline and self belief. You also need to work very hard.
Write! Never give up either. The late and lovely E V Thompson gave me this advice and also told me to write about what I knew. I went away and write “Katy Carter Wants a Hero” the fictional tale of an English teacher who runs away to Cornwall to be a writer. Eighteen months later Richard and Judy were talking about it and my career was off. I would also say that you need to embrace social media and new technologies now – these things are key. Don’t dismiss ebooks and the new platforms either as these are growing areas and fast becoming the way that people access and consume texts. Indie publishing has also opened up a whole new world of possibilities. This is the best time ever to be a writer. Be open to change and new idea.
It sounds a little clichéd but I find inspiration all around me. It can be something as simple as a comment somebody makes, a person I spot walking down the street or even the line of a song. I’m also lucky enough to live in beautiful Cornwall and I love all the myths and legends that weave themselves around everyday life here. Tales of wreckers and piskies and obscure saints abound and the ancient pagan past can often be glimpsed though the swirling sea mists. These myths, the churning sea and the dramatic landscape certainly inspire my writing. KATY CARTER , the ESCAPE series and POLWENNA BAY certainly reflect my love for Cornwall.
This is a tricky one. Obviously with any writing imagination is key and I’m sure Tolkein never visited Middle Earth any more than Gene Roddenberry flew the Star Ship Enterprise. The Internet is also a fantastic research tool. However, as a writer I do believe that knowing a place adds an authenticity to writing. If you’ve never contended with the driving Cornish rain, waded along muddy cliff paths, lost a friend when his fishing boat went down or fought ‘seagull bin wars’ in the spring would you truly be able to write with genuine feeling? My American road trip (three months, 12,00 miles and over 25 states) has given me a real immersion into the US life, countryside and culture that I am looking forward to drawing on in my writing. From watching the moon rise over Miami, to riding horses over Montana mountains to eating salt dough bread in San Francisco, I know these experiences will appear some day in my books and I hope they will ring true for my readers.
Thank you a million times over for buying and reading my books. I couldn’t have got this far without you all. If one person has enjoyed my writing then that makes all the long hours, lack of social life and stones gained while writing, worthwhile. .
Here are some answers to some of the questions that I get asked most often by my readers…
All images & text © Copyright Ruth Saberton 2017