There are first loves and there are last loves. But what happens when they overlap?
Tom Blythe falls in love quickly. He fell for Olivia the first time they met. The same thing happens when he meets Grace. The problem is: Tom is still in love with Olivia.
Pulled in two different directions, Tom has a choice to make. He knows he’s unhappy, but is that enough for him to forget the vows he made? Both women have difficult pasts and Tom is desperate to help them, but at what cost?
Can he let Olivia go and commit his future to Grace? Or will the pull of the past prove too strong?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I have to fit my writing around my family, so I tend to write in term-time during school hours. Monday-Thursday I’m found at my desk in my study surrounded by noticeboards and post it notes. On a Friday, I work in Brightlingsea Lido Café, where I am currently Writer In Residence. It’s lovely being able to chat to people, as a writer’s life can be quite solitary at times, but it is very cold in there at the moment. I usually end up in furry boots with socks over the top of my tights, a shawl wrapped around me and wearing fingerless gloves! All that said, I feel incredibly lucky that I have the opportunity to be there!
– Do you have a certain ritual?
There are no rituals as such, but there are routines I try to stick to. If I have admin to do, or work that is not for the current book I’m working on, I tend to do it first thing in the morning as otherwise I can’t settle to write. If I’m just typing up notes or doing admin, I have Classic FM on in the background. I can’t have anything with lyrics though, otherwise I get distracted and end up singing along! I do however, have certain things that live on my desk depending on what I’m working on. At the moment, it’s a pottery folly that a friend painted for me as the folly it represents is pivotal to the book I’m currently writing. When I was writing ‘Unforgettable’ it was a small wind-up clock that I’ve had since I was three. It appears in the book, so it was something to focus on if I had a ‘what happens next’ moment.
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
Lots and lots and lots of coffee. When I get home from the school run, I usually make myself a cup of coffee and have some kind of breakfast biscuits. After that, it’s one of two extremes. If I’m struggling, I snack constantly. If the writing is flowing nicely, I often don’t think about eating until 2pm/2:30pm. Lunch is usually either a mug of soup, cheese on toast or apples and babybels. Whatever it is, it has to be something that doesn’t take long to prepare and that I can eat while I work. I’m always conscious that I have a limited window in which to write and so I have to make the most of it.
– What is your favourite book?
Haha. That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child! ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is one I always come back to, but ‘The Dark Is Rising Sequence’, the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ books and ‘Wind In The Willows’ are all favourites from childhood. I genuinely couldn’t pick just one without some kind of system in place and even then, I’m not wholly sure I could do it.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Absolutely. I’m currently editing the first (and writing the second) in a time-split series set in a fictionalised version of the town I live in. These draw on real historical events for inspiration. I’m also editing a children’s adventure novel (which is the first in a planned trilogy) and have plans for a cosy crime series and two romance novels set in Cornwall, when I get time to write them all!
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
All the time. However, they’re never lifted directly from life. In ‘Unforgettable’ there are elements of myself and my husband in all three of the main characters and Eoin and Sophie are based on good friends of mine, even though the characters are actually nothing like the real people. I just had this couple in mind when I was writing them. I think there’s always an element of me somewhere in my characters, whether it’s me as I actually am, or me as I wish I was!
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Yes. I always have a notebook and pen in my bag and have another set on my bedside table. However, with the advent of the smartphone, I also use the notes function on that. I actually try to be very organised about it all and even though the initial notes might be scribbled down, once I get home there is a system. I have one notebook where the basic idea is noted down and numbered. I then have a second notebook where the initial idea can be expanded on – opening lines, further plot ideas etc – and these references are also numbered so I know which idea they relate to.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
In reading, I’ll try pretty much anything. Although I’m not generally a huge fan of science-fiction, fantasy and dystopian novels, there are always exceptions to the rule! In terms of writing, I think I would find it difficult to write in these genres.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
It would depend on who I was writing for. If I was writing a book for adults, it would be Kate Mosse. If it was for children, Susan Cooper. I love both these authors – their books are clever and well-constructed, but ultimately, they are romping good reads which don’t fit easily into any specific genre. They are both masters of creating a strong sense of the landscape in their books and this is something I’m far more interested in than what the characters look like. When I was doing my MA in Creative Writing, I wrote an essay looking at their work and it gave me a whole new level of appreciation of what they achieve.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
When I started writing ‘Unforgettable’ I was lucky enough to go on a brief family holiday to Vienna. There is a section of the book that is set in the city and so it was lovely to be able to refresh my memories and make sure that I’d got the details just right before I started writing that part. Most of my books are set in the UK, simply because I like to set them in places I know well, but I think if I was to write one set abroad, it would have to be Vienna I’d go back to. It’s such a beautiful city with an enormous wealth of history and I’d love an excuse to go back. The other place I’d love to set a book would be in rural France. I’d be somewhere isolated in the middle of the Loire Valley, for no other reason than it would give me a good reason to go and live there on my own for a few months and visit the châteaux all in the name of research!
Thank you, R E and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
A former teacher, Ruth’s first writing memory is for her writer’s badge in Brownies but her MA in Creative Writing probably trumps that. One of the founders and editors of the digital literary and visual arts magazine, Makarelle, she has been published in various anthologies and is usually found in her study, mainlining coffee and frantically pinning editorial notes onto a noticeboard. In November 2019, Ruth was appointed Writer In Residence at Brightlingsea Lido. Although she has written a number of books for children and teenagers, this is Ruth’s debut novel for adults.
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