Saturday, 5 November 2011

Dear Anonymous

I just received an anonymous message from someone who has bought The Woman Before Me but is scared to read it in case it upsets them. As I can't respond personally (no e-mail address) I am using this site to send a response: yes, the subject is emotional. And you may cry; I cried when I wrote it. But when you finish the book I hope you will be left with the feeling that you have been on a journey you are glad you took. Will you let me know? x
To convince you further here's the latest:

60 Amazon reviews for The Woman Before Me

Word of mouth is a fantastic tool for promoting a novel, so it is great to see the fantatic reviews for The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall on Amazon. There are now 60 reviews on the site (42 five star and 10 four star), and it is great to see such overwhelming support for this fantastic debut.

Below are some of the fantastic endorsements:

‘instantly engaging and kept me gripped throughout. I'd go so far as to say it's unputdownable… an impressive debut and I would recommend it without reservation.’ – TARguy, Colchester

‘The characters are very rounded and believable, arousing sympathy and mistrust throughout the book. It's very pacy and keeps you guessing right to the end.’ – LadyMacbeth

‘Dugdall spins a very clever web of deceit and entwines her characters into her story. I totally enjoyed the book, as did the book club.’ – May Bee

‘the pages turn faster and faster as you go. This story is a refreshing change from the usual crime mystery, populated with real characters you can believe in. An excellent novel.’ – Frances Day, Gloucestershire

‘I really liked the style of writing and the way it differed from so many other crime thrillers out there… I would not hesitate to recommend this book’ – Julia Shaw

‘There were no winners among the characters in this novel but this is a winning book in more senses than one and I am glad I read it.’ – H Gore, Essex

‘Dugdall draws her characters with consummate skill, using her personal experience as a Probation Officer in a women's prison to bring them to life. She holds the reader's attention through to the end’ – Wendy

‘This story is about so many different things, loss, relationships, jealousy and obsession all displayed in a measured manner… Fantastic I hope Ruth Dugdall writes more for us’ – C. Bannister, Jersey

‘psychologically acute; it is also, more importantly, very, very moving.’ – David Rose

‘a finely crafted piece of observation. A precise study of human need… excellent stuff!’ – Gary Murning, author

‘Dark and disturbing, this psychological thriller will stay with you long after you've put the book down.’ – S Lovett, Essex

‘I loved this book even with its dark subject matter, and read it in two sittings. It is a real page turner and written with real insight into all the characters.’ – M. Squirrell

‘Absolutely brilliant. I could not put it down and read it in a day. Still thinking about the characters now.’ – schoolescort

‘this one is definitely addictive and definitely leaves you wanting more.’ – kayscarpetta, Cleveland

‘What makes this thriller so successful is the way sadness and creepiness combine - in the sense that the reader feels that such a story could happen in anybody's life.’ – Petch

‘This was a page turner from beginning to end… I cannot wait for the next installment from this author.’ – AY Smith

‘With a fantastic eye for detail and sense of place this story will stay with you long after you've finished reading it.’ – Green One

‘A dark and captivating read. Dugdall reveals her skills as a `wordsmith', creating a spare and compelling narrative that is both satisfying and disquieting.’ – bhgirl

‘If you like dark and disturbing plots, this is for you! You'll be gripped by the relentless pace of the story and be prepared for a couple of shocks at the end.’ – Roz Colyer, Essex

‘Pacy, believable, with characters you can really root for; Ruth Dugdall is a talent to watch out for.’ - Devon Violets

‘It was marvelous, a real diametric juxtaposition of raw emotion and sophisticated narrative, pacy plotlines and luxuriously laconic descriptions reminiscent of authors such as John Connolly’ - Mark

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

40 five star reviews for The Woman Before Me

The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall has received a fantastic response so far from readers on Amazon - with 40 five star reviews posted up for the book.

There is great word of mouth momentum behind this book - and we would love you to join the discussion by reading the book and reviewing online.

Here are some reader's thoughts:

'Ruth Dugdall has written her with great psychological insight and captures Rose's descent into obsession with chilling precision. I found myself desperate for Rose to do the right thing and yet simultaneously understanding her needs, even empathising with them. It's quite an achievement and left me disturbed long after I had put the book down. This is an impressive debut and I would recommend it without reservation.'

'Ruth Dugdall draws her characters with consummate skill, using her personal experience as a Probation Officer in a women's prison to bring them to life. She holds the reader's atention through to the end, with its horrifying twist.'

'This is a book that you're drawn into right from the start and it quickly becomes a page turner that you just can't put down. I didn't see the twist coming. The characters are very rounded and believable, arousing sympathy and mistrust throughout the book. It's very pacy and keeps you guessing right to the end. I can't wait to read Ruth Dugdall's next one. A totally unique book that creates its own genre. Great movie material.'

Saturday, 3 September 2011

by Jim Murdoch - most detailed reviewed on the internet?


Friday, 2 September 2011The Sacrificial Man

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide – Albert Camus

A year ago I reviewed Ruth Dugdall’s novel The Woman Before Me. It has the feel and shape of a crime novel but the twist is that we already know who the guilty party is; they’ve been apprehended, charged, tried, convicted, sentenced and are now up for parole. What the book does is follow the probation officer, Cate Austin, as she tries to come up with a recommendation to put before the parole board. There is a catch. The sole criterion for eligibility for parole is remorse and the prisoner in question, a woman called Rose Wilks, who has been charged with the accidental murder of a child, has always – and continues to – maintained her innocence. How can one express genuine remorse for something you say you never did? As it transpires, she is innocent of the crime for which she had been convicted, but everyone is guilty of something. Now, that might seem like a lot to tell you about Ruth’s first ‘Cate Austin’ novel but I have my reasons. If you have the time and the inclination you can read the whole review here.

I was very taken with The Woman Before Me. It has its weaknesses and I’m not going to ignore them but I loved the premise and frankly expected to be disappointed by her next novel which I imagined would fall back on a more traditional style. I thought this approach would work for one novel but that would be it. I’m pleased to say I’ve been proved wrong. The question is: Has she fallen foul to the law of diminishing returns? You know what I’m on about: you’re hungry and someone hands you a ham and mustard sandwich and it’s the very best ham and mustard sandwich that you have ever had in your puff and it’s so damn good that you want to eat it all over again, whereupon your kindly host hands you another, identical sarnie but it never is the same, is it? Whereas the first one was great, this second one is only very good at best.

The Sacrificial Man, much to my surprise, has exactly the same structure as The Woman Before Me. It’s as if Ruth has rubbed out all the characters in the first book bar Cate and filled in new ones. The ‘Rose’ character is now Alice, a university lecturer (Exeter College, English Literature). The crime is not murder, it’s assisted suicide, a crime that can attract up to fourteen years in prison so it’s not that it’s not serious, it is. The premise is the same and the approach the same – Alice gets to narrate her story and Cate’s side of things is told in the third person – and again the question is: what is, in this case Alice, guilty of? She’s been charged, tried, found guilty but not sentenced. This is where Cate Austin comes in. It is her job to make a recommendation to the court.

That surprised me. I thought that the judge would have simply decided that there and then. In an article in the East Anglian Daily Times, Ruth, who used to work as a probation officer herself, had this to say about the job:

I loved being a probation officer. They get a really bad press, but I think they do a great job. People generally have the totally wrong idea about what they do. They think they're there to befriend offenders and give them cups of tea and sympathy; actually, it's all about challenging them and getting them to accept what they've done and think about the victim.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report, Ruth Dugdall has got better at making ‘sarnies’. The approach may be identical but her writing has improved. It is still not a perfect novel and the main weakness in the first book for me is actually amplified by the fact that her new antagonist is a much bigger character this time. In The Woman Before Me, Rose doesn’t exactly jump off the page but Alice does. Do you recall Tim Burton’s Batman, the one featuring Jack Nicholson as the Joker? I remember at the time some criticism was levelled, quite rightly, at the film because Nicholson dominated the film. Some critics even went as far as to say the film should have been called The Joker there was so little of Batman in it. If this book had been called Cate Austin I might have said the same.

Alice Mariani suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves. Dr Gregg, the psychologist assigned to assess her, asked Cate Austin:

“Have you heard of egomania?”

“Well, yes,” she replied cautiously, “but I didn’t think it was a medical term.”

“It isn’t. It’s the nineteenth century word for a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but I think it sums things up nicely. I think Alice is a classic case. There are nine key features to the disorder, and my initial assessment is that she scores high on most of them. She’s preoccupied with power, arrogant and has a feeling of entitlement to act as she feels fit. Another feature is a lack of empathy.”

On top of this she is very beautiful. And knows it. She is poised, articulate, and comes across as very sure of herself. She drives an MG Midget (Cate, “a run-around in dull green with a dent in the wing.”) This is her book and don’t you forget it: she’s talking to you:

I’ve chosen you. You will listen. You are my judge, the true arbiter.

Those words aren’t addressed to Cate or Smith or any other character in the book. Alice kicks down the fourth wall and makes sure you’re paying attention.

(For the record, by the way, the most likely diagnosis for the Joker, although definitely a narcissist, is probably antisocial personal disorder.)

So, what is her story all about? Alice has responded to an online advert:

Man seeks beautiful woman for the journey of a lifetime. I will lift mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help. Will you help me to die?

The quote is from Psalms 121:

1. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
from whence cometh my help.

2. My help cometh from the LORD,
which made heaven and earth.

If you read the entire psalm is has a similar feel to Psalm 23, the LORD is my shepherd. The appeal is from a guy who uses the Internet name, Smith – his real name is David Jenkins – Alice going by the name Robin, names which they mostly continue to use in the real world once they finally meet. Smith is not a crank, at least he doesn’t appear to be, he says he’s not terminally ill and despite quoting the Bible he doesn’t come across as a religious nut either. His online profile reveals little though:

He’d been a fan of Morrissey in his teens and I imagined a melancholic youth with floppy hair smoking dope. He said he was a Catholic and, however lapsed, the faith was in his blood.

It’s the name that first attracts Alice:

To me, Smith was beautifully anonymous – an Everyman. I didn’t want the unique or standalone; I sought the mediocre, the average, the one lost in a crowd. I wanted the man who worked behind a desk, who microwaved cardboard meals, who rubbed the sore grooves down his nose, scored by his glasses, Mr Mousy Hair, Mr Nylon Shirts. Strange, that I sought the ordinary when I’m anything but.

Others respond to his ad, but Robin/Alice is his choice.

Her assessment of Smith is right on the nail. He works as an actuary for an insurance firm in London. He’s twenty-seven, a popular age to die, although John Keats, whose poetry and philosophy of life features, was only twenty-five. In chapter ten Cate gets to see Alice deliver a lecture on Keats, albeit one on film as she has been suspended from actual teaching duties. The talk ends with…

As Keats said, ‘I conclude,’ projecting to the camera, ‘now more than ever seems rich to die. To cease upon the midnight with no pain. A perfect death is a way to cheat the dulling, dumbing effect of time. To die at the heart of love is the only way to preserve its purity.’

Alice, predictably, enjoys watching herself onscreen:

My onscreen image is beautiful, slim, clever. To Cate Austin, as to the students sitting enthralled, it must appear as if I have it all.

So why would this clearly intelligent woman who has “it all” agree to help a complete stranger end his own life? She’s not a member of The Hemlock Society, although this pro-suicide organisation does take an interest in her case, in fact she doesn’t appear to have any strong feelings on the subject that don’t come out of a book and like many academics when asked a question she’s prone to respond with a quote. Or is that just a front? At her core she comes across as a Romantic. Even when she thinks about the very real possibility of a custodial sentence, this is what she comes up with:

The word is too romantic, a beautiful lie. ‘Prise’, a word for open. Said quickly prison could be present – birthdays and Christmas. How can such a word mean something so ugly, so absolute, as incarceration? I shall say jail. The word is more honest, in it you can hear the clink of keys in locks. I like to be honest with words…

David Jenkins – Smith – on the other hand is very different but one can also see why, once she got to know him, there might have been some attraction. He’s a decent bloke, organised – his suicide note is written months in advance and goes to great pains to ensure that Robin, as he calls Alice, is protected from prosecution. He writes:

Robin is no more responsible for my death than a train driver who runs over a guy who jumped on the tracks. She may be driving the train but she never made me jump. It will be me swallowing the drugs, knowing they bring death. The eating, too, is my request. Robin doesn’t even really want to – she’ll be doing it for me. And I’ll be alive at that point, so it’s not even illegal.

Right. I probably should have mentioned the eating bit. But I won’t, if you don’t mind, mention that bit. Yeah, I know, that puts a whole different complexion on everything. Especially since Alice is vegetarian. Is this all starting to ring bells now? Let me remind you:

Recently [in 2002], a man in Germany was put on trial for killing and consuming another German man. Disgust at this incident was exacerbated when the accused explained that he had placed an advertisement on the internet for someone to be slaughtered and eaten—and that his ‘victim’ had answered this advertisement. The man had first castrated his willing victim, and then the two had eaten the removed flesh. Following this, Armin Meiwes administered a drug, stabbed Bernd-Jurgen Brandes to death, cut him into pieces, and placed him in the freezer—a delicacy to be consumed over several months. – J. Jeremy Wisnewski, ‘Murder, Cannibalism, and Indirect Suicide: A Philosophical Study of a Recent Case’, Philosophy in the Contemporary World 14:1 (Spring 2007)

The man in question was Armin Meiwes who was arrested in December of 2002 and, indeed, it was hearing about the case on the news that first sowed the seeds in Ruth Dugdall’s mind. Meiwes was put on trial in 2003, and convicted of manslaughter in January, 2004. He was sentenced to 8½ years. Of course Ruth references it in the book along with other similar cases; she’s obviously done her research. There are clear differences, however, between the circumstances surrounding David Jenkins’ death and what happened in Germany but, needless to say, the press, ever keen to sensationalise things, focuses on the act of cannibalism, something Alice thinks little of:

It was like eating the dead skin from a scab. It was nothing. It was rubber and salt.

As with The Woman Before Me the facts in this case appear clear cut. No one is accusing Alice of misrepresenting the facts or of trying to wriggle out of anything. But what we believe to be true isn’t always what turns out to be true. And that is what Cate Austin, as she carries out her investigation, uncovers.

Like all novels of this ilk the suspense is derived from eking out information. As it happens the day of his suicide Smith posts a letter to one of his workmates, Krishna Dasi, that proves to be the sole piece of evidence that is needed to clarify what really happened and who is guilty of what and if Krishna hadn’t hung onto it for weeks before deciding to hand it over and, if, when he did choose to hand it over, he had picked a police officer rather than Cate Austin, or if Cate had been a faster reader than she apparently is (taking another 113 pages to get through something she could and should have read in an hour), then everything would have been done and dusted by page 163 or thereabouts. I’m being picky. It’s not as if her being a slow reader gets someone else killed. It just means that it takes a bit longer for everyone to find out the truths and how they change their lives.

There is another layer to this book. We have Alice talking straight to us, we have Cate’s story and then we have a third story, the backstory where we learn where Alice came from and what happened to make her the person she has turned into. Really, the fact that she willingly agreed to be a party to someone’s suicide is one of the least interesting things about her once you learn about her mother and what happened to the two of them, how Alice ended up in care and also how Alice ended up rich: by the end of the book she’s been transformed from merely the accused into a real person. Smith, not so much, although we do learn a lot more about him, but this is Alice’s story.

As with The Woman Before Me, Cate is the weak link. This is what I had to say about her last appearance:

I found Cate the most predictable character here. It’s a common ploy of crime novelists to have a fair degree of overlap between protagonist and antagonist and I never truly engaged with her. She does her job, metaphorically and literally.

and I feel exactly the same about her in this book. I know that Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple’s talent as a detective lies in the fact she is unobtrusive, blending into the background where she can conveniently overhear relevant snippets of conversations but she still has character; in the early novels she’s a gleeful gossip and not an especially nice woman before Christie softened her down and made her more “fluffy”. In an e-mail Ruth said this to me:

The question of whether Cate should be more to the fore was one I struggled with, and in earlier drafts she is much more present. I removed these sections as I felt Alice – and Smith – had such strong storylines and I was worried about distracting the reader. Maybe I was too heavy handed with my removals?

It’s a difficult call. But my main feeling about Cate in this book is the fact that she does precious little detecting. Yes, she notices that Alice swapped vases – that was well spotted – but she failed to notice how ill Alice was until it was pointed out to her and Krishna simply hands her the vital piece of evidence; no one knows it exists before then. To be fair it’s more realistic this way – my wife and I are always tearing apart cop shows on TV apart for the remarkable leaps in deduction they make and don’t get either of us started on forensic evidence – but it does make her a bit dull; a necessary player but not a very exciting one. But then she doesn’t need to be; we have Alice.

Bottom line? I enjoyed this. It asks some serious philosophical questions in the midst of everything and there are no easy answers. This is not just a crime novel or a psychological thriller. I like that. Ian Rankin chose to be a crime novelist because he realised that a detective was the perfect tool to prise open the lid of society. He’s a serious novelist masquerading as a crime fiction writer and I believe the same is true of Ruth Dugdall. The Sacrificial Man is also topical, Sir Terry Pratchett, for one, having raised the public’s awareness of the subject. The copy I was sent has four pages at the front praising Ruth’s writing but I’ll echo what Frances Day (an Amazon reviewer) had to say: both Ruth’s novels are a “refreshing change from the usual crime mystery, populated with real character you can believe in.” I would have no problems reading her next book but I would like to see something a little different next time. When William McIlvanney (another serious novelist) wrote his third and final Laidlaw novel rather than writing in the third person as he had done in his first two novels he wrote Strange Loyalties in the first person presenting a very different book. I would like to see Cate Austin come out of the shadows.

I thought I’d ask Ruth about this.

In your e-mail to me you said that you deliberately toned down Cate’s role in this book because Smith, and Alice, especially, are such large characters. That wasn’t the case in the first book and yet I still felt that she lacked in many ways. I see from reading other reviewers that this is the common criticism of your protagonist. How do you think you’ll avoid us saying the same about her next time?

I’m responding all the time to what readers tell me. Because it took me several years to find a publisher I was, to a large extent, writing in something of a void, not sure how my novels would be received by the general public. Now that I am in the fortunate position of being published I often hear from readers, especially at book groups (I usually visit one every few weeks) and what I am hearing is that people are intrigued by Cate and want more of her.
In earlier drafts of The Sacrificial Man there was more of Cate’s back-story, but I felt it distracted from Alice’s narrative (which, for me, is the pulse of the novel) so I deleted it. I’ve learned that readers see Cate as the voice of reason and are also interested in the rarely portrayed probation perspective. My next Cate Austin novel (Humber Boy B – a work in progress) will see her coming more into the foreground, and will reveal what motivated her to train as a probation officer. Readers have guessed that she has some skeletons in her cupboard and it’s time for me to reveal some of them.

In both of these books the ‘bad guy’ is actually a woman. Obviously your experience working as a probation officer brought you in contact with a lot of ‘bad’ women. Do you think that the way that women are treated in the criminal justice system is different to males; mad rather than bad?

I feel this very strongly. For me one of the final frontiers of feminism is to acknowledge that women are equally capable of violence, of harm, of terrible deeds, as men. As a society we are still shocked when women are involved in violent or sexual crimes and prefer to believe that the woman was either under the influence of a male or mentally ill. I know it’s anecdotal rather than statistical evidence, but I worked with many people who had been abused by women, and in several of the murder cases I supervised there had been women who were also involved who had avoided charge. Women are treated very differently by the Criminal Justice system and as long as that remains the case we won’t have a true picture of crime and the psychology behind it. Novels are just one way in which it is possible to challenge normal assumptions about criminal behaviour, and I hope my novels add something to this debate.

You said in a recent Radio 4 interview that motherhood was one of the reasons you started writing in the first place. Can you explain?

Well, firstly on a very practical level it gave me the time to really concentrate on writing. I’d gone from being a student into full time work, so when I was on my maternity leave it was my first real chance to really clear my head and start to pull together my ideas. I also think that when I was working I was very bound up in being a probation officer and the stresses of the job, so maternity leave gave me some distance and perspective. Motherhood is a very strong theme in both The Woman Before Me and The Sacrificial Man and having children myself meant that I cared even more about this very vital relationship. In my work I had seen how devastating it can be to have an abusive or absent mother, and it was natural for me to connect with this theme when I came to explain how Rose and Alice came to be the women they are.

I noticed that you did a lot of work on this novel using the site Authonomy. Can you tell us a bit about that experience? Is it an approach you would recommend and, if so, why?

I love Authonomy. It is a fantastically supportive environment, and I do believe it can open doors for people. At the very least it is a chance to meet (in cyberspace) with other dedicated writers and get feedback. This in itself is vital for a writer – we can’t be defensive about or work if we want to improve, and criticism that is given constructively is a gift. This is a lesson that can be learned on Authonomy, and in quite a safe way, as people are very generous with their support.

Writing is lonely, but a site like Authonomy is the virtual equivalent of the office water cooler. You can log on, enjoy a chat, read a thread, then get back to writing.

There are a lot of crime novelists out there and a seemingly never-ending stream of cop shows on TV, presumably read and watched by people who have never murdered anyone, nor would ever imagine murdering anyone. What is the attraction?

Fear. We all fear having the rug pulled out from under us, and crime novels allow us to experience this vicariously and then see the world restored to its rightful order, as usually the conclusion of a crime novel is redemptive in nature.

I believe you have two more books under your belt. Can you tell us a little about them?

The next novel that will be submitted to publishers is called My Sister and Other Liars and is a totally different kind of novel. It’s a coming of age story about Sam, a teenage girl, whose sister was attacked and left brain damaged. The police have no evidence about the attack and are closing the case so Sam has decided to find her sister’s attacker and enact her own revenge.

After that comes Innocence Lane, which is about a man who kills his wife, but says he was sleepwalking when he did this. The defence of sleepwalking has been used successfully in both the UK and USA and I think it’s a fascinating notion.

Both novels are stand-alone pieces, set in Suffolk, and feature characters introduced in TWBM and TSM, although not Cate Austin.

Well, all I can say is that I’m looking forward to reading them; Innocence Lane especially calls out.


Although the events that take place in it follow on from The Woman Before Me, The Sacrificial Man is a standalone novel. It is published by Legend Press and the last time I looked could be bought on Amazon, new, for as little as £4.00.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Back in the swing of things...

Vermont was magical. It was my first time back since honeymooning there 13 years ago and we took the kids back to the same hotel which felt very special and nostalgic. Lots of mountain hiking (as the Americans call it) and swimming in `swimming holes`. In fact, the house we stayed in lost water for 4 days so swimming in the lake was our only way to wash! All adds to the experience.

Now I'm back, climbing a different sort of mountain (washing!) and still on American time, which had better adjust soon as tomorrow is my first publicity event. At 2.30 (UK time) I'll be interviewed by Hannah on Talk Europe Radio. Then on Saturday I'm back to the book signings, at Waterstones in Coventry from 10am. Coventry was a good event last year with The Woman Before Me so I'm hoping to see some friendly faces again. If you live in the area please pop along & say hello!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Phew. Glad that's over...

Well, it’s been a mad week. If a writer’s life is a rollercoaster of highs (getting published / meeting a fan at a book signing) and lows (rejections / getting told to shove off at a book signing) then this week has been a condensed version.

It started a week ago when I drove 260 miles to speak to a book group where, I discovered the day before, only 7 of the 14 had actually purchased my book. Given the distance, and the fact that I don’t charge to do this, I thought this was a bit much but as I’d already booked my hotel I went anyway. Well, there may have only been 7 there but they made up for it with their enthusiasm and I was delighted by their comments. When they gave me some chocs and flowers as a `thank you` my cup floweth over… I arrived at the hotel pleased I’d made the journey.

The following day I did two book signings (mad idea – never again) and it was pouring with rain. Both branches of Waterstones were dead, so I was lucky to sell 40 books, and drove home feeling weary.

On Tuesday I went to Bodies in the Bookshop at Heffers, Cambridge. I knew that with so many crime writers there it would be a good networking opportunity, and I especially wanted to meet Sophie Hannah (we’d exchanged e-mails but never met in the flesh) and S J Watson (whose book led me to my new agent). Fate was on my side; by chance I was in the taxi line with S J Watson, and ended up sharing a cab, which gave me ample time to chat with him, and then Sophie was on the same book-signing table as me. I was one of the last to leave the event, and selling a few books was an added bonus.

Wednesday was manic. I drove to Wickhambrook, somewhere in the Suffolk wilds, and met the WI group there. We had a lovely lunch, and after my talk I sold lots of books, so it was a fantastic event. I also got gifted some fabulous cup cakes so the kids were happy when I got home… however before going home I zoomed to London for the People’s Book Prize awards. I am grateful to everyone who voted for me, and especially for the comments left on the site. I didn’t win but it was a lovely evening and I still felt fortunate to be there.

Thursday was another book club, this time a group that I had met last year when they read The Woman Before Me. Their response to The Sacrificial Man was, if anything, even more enthusiastic and it was a great night. I do love book clubs!

Friday was the short-listing of the New Blood Dagger and although I knew it was a bad sign that I’d heard nothing I was still disappointed to see the confirmation that I wasn’t short-listed. As the opening of The Woman Before Me had won the debut dagger back in 2005 I was hopeful that the completed version would be deemed worthy of a listing. I’d already predicted that Before I go to Sleep, Poison Tree and Into the Darkest Corner would be on the list. Fantastic novels all.

But I wasn’t downcast for long.

Today took me to Bury St Edmunds for one of the best book signings I have ever done. There is a growing awareness of my books, and several people came in knowing I would be there. Others had heard me on Radio Suffolk / BBC2 / Woman’s Hour so that was a good sign that the publicity works.
I’ve just arrived home – tired by happy.
It’s been a bit of an up and down week, but on balance a writer’s life is still the one for me.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Bookback review of The Sacrificial Man

Synchronicity? Is that what they call it, when unconnected events chime with each other in unavoidable significance? Maybe it is just the human need to see patterns and make connections where there are none, but it's still weird when it happens. In a week that saw a storyline in Emmerdale echoed in a very personal documentary by Terry Pratchett considering the possibility of choosing the nature and time of his own end, I found myself reading The Sacrificial Man.

This is a book that is also about choosing your own ending – albeit with a few gruesome twists that I'm hoping Sir Terry doesn't have in mind.

We meet Robin on a railway station. A terminus. The end of the line. Technically, unless the continuity error is corrected in the final version of the book (I was privileged with a proof copy), the station in question is seldom the end of the line. It's a major through-route. But we'll let that rest. It's the danger you meet if you choose to set your books in real places. For dramatic purposes it is the end of the line.

Robin isn't her real name. It's one she chose when she started her search on the internet. And the person she found called himself "Smith". They got to know each other, knew their real names in the real world, but still chose to call one another by their chosen names. She loved the chirpy 'cheer-leader' sound of hers, he the anonymity of his, and vice versa. In each other they found what they'd been seeking.

Specifically Smith had found a woman willing to join him on the journey of a lifetime… to help [him] die.

Why Robin wants to do this is something she needs someone to understand. Specifically, she wants us, the readers, to know those things that she may not be willing to tell the police, the social workers, the other authority figures that will surely get involved when the deed is done. Dugdall makes us complicit by directing the narration at us, on a very personal level. It is as though by continuing to read, we give the character permission to continue on this path.

We are also given the means with which to afford her absolution for it, or not. For this isn't just her story, it's her mother's too.

1977: Matilde Mariani is a second generation immigrant; she's 17 years old, terrified of her father, indifferent to her subjected mother, and pregnant. By a quirk of biology she's too pregnant for anything to be done about it before anyone really notices. By a quirk of character she finds the strength to refuse to let her baby go.

Cut to the present: Cate Austin, Probation Officer, is handed a case she really doesn't want. Alice Mariani has been charged with assisted suicide and she has to recommend sentence.

From here Dugdall spins her tale from the three main perspectives: that of Alice/Robin (what happened, how, why); Cate's investigation (her meetings with Alice, information feeding in from elsewhere); and the past, in the voice of the disembodied omniscient narrator, who primarily gives us more background for Alice/Robin. These episodes are stripped of the manipulative feel of Alice's own expositions aimed directly at the reader, but they are still heavily weighted in her favour. This is how it was, they say. And it was NOT nice.

Alice is clear: what she did she did for love. Smith wanted to die. He must have had his reasons, but they didn't talk about them. Even when he cast his last requests in a spiritual pseudo-Christianity vein (the blood and body), she did not question him. You do not question what you do for love. The evidence is there. The letter he wrote is clear.

Is this normal… is this love or loyalty… or is this something more? Or less?

Was this an assisted suicide (upon which the law looks increasingly leniently) – or was it murder? That is Cate's dilemma. It should not be so. The jury has spoken. There is no question of murder. All our probation officer has to do is recommend a sentence in the light of the perpetrator's mental state and likelihood to be a danger to herself or others. But Cate is not so sure… something about Alice has her digging deeper…

As a novel about the criminal justice system, as a thriller, as a literary exploration of the character of damaged individuals The Sacrificial Man scores on every level. It's gripping. It makes you slightly queasy in places. It forces you to question your prejudices at every step of the way. Reader sympathy is shunted around the cast-list as the tale plays out. Everyone has something to hide; everyone has a reason. Until a different reason comes along.

Stylistically, it's well pitched with exposition allowing us time to think about the potential psychological insights suddenly whipped away back into assertion or dialogue that gives us no time to breath and reinforces or counters our conclusions in equal measure.

As an addition to the expanding canon of fiction and non-fiction discourse on the rights and wrongs of allowing the "right to life" to encompass "a right to end it", rather than being transmuted into "an obligation to live", Dugdall manages to squeeze in powerful arguments on both sides of the debate.

As the second contribution to what looks set to be a series of Cate Austin novels it is well balanced. Enough of Cate's family life and personal dilemmas are exposed to draw readers to the character, but only just enough. We're not burdened with back-story that we don't need. The focus remains resolutely on the case in hand, which enables the book to stand solidly on its own account.

The book is heartily recommended… and the author is one to watch.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

First review of The Sacrificial Man!

The Sacrificial Man
by Ruth Dugdall
Release Date: 1st Jul 2011
Publisher: Legend Press
ISBN: 978 1 9082 4800 8
RRP: £7.99

Walking the tightrope between what is morally right and wrong is more dangerous that you think...
I had never contemplated the justice system from the probationary officer’s perspective. This entirely unglamorous, rarely discussed occupation is startlingly powerful and yet has mysteriously fallen between the cracks of literature; that is, until Ruth Dugdall created Cate Austin and opened up a whole new dimension to our legal system.

Alice Mariani has been found guilty of “assisted suicide”; an illegal act in Britain, despite protestations that suicide is a personal choice and if that individual wishes to take their own life; that is their right and anyone present or involved should not be subsequently punished. Austin’s job is to provide the court with a recommendation on the length and type of sentence that is handed down, but she’s stuck with Mariani. Her story doesn’t quite ring true and the abrupt psychotic break that lands her in a psychiatric ward fails to assuage Austin’s suspicions. The problem is: all the evidence clearly points to suicide. There’s a note written by the ‘victim’, a raft of email correspondence detailing his desire to overdose and for Mariani to be there – even to eat a part of him as well as precedents set across Europe. Mariani’s side of the story hangs on an unlikely love affair that grew out of the victim’s desire to die. The mode of death was meticulously planned, ritualistic, almost spiritual – but still Austin cannot shake a feeling of unease. It is the victim’s diary that finally sheds light on the true motivations behind the victim’s death-wish, the cannibalism playing a pivotal part and as Austin reads on, she discovers that victim may be murderer and murderer may be victim.

The Sacrificial Man is unflinching in its analysis of the complexity of the human psyche: the rationalisation of unfathomable acts of self-mutilation; the horror that lurks in the broken mind; the sickness that twists the moral compass beyond recognition. There is also the inscrutable lightness: the bond between teenage mother and child, the adulation that would lead you to do anything to stopper your loved-one’s pain… It is the clash of light and dark, sweet and bitter, destructive and tender that Dugdall emblazons the story into your retinas and into your brain. As repulsive as it is compulsive; The Sacrificial Man takes us on a sobering journey into a world of psychosis, sexual abuse, neglect, drug addiction, cannibalism and an act so horrific in conception it can only be described as evil.

Dugdall challenges our preconceptions on just about every emotive topic out there. Bold and clever in her storytelling, she forces a spotlight into the darkest corners of humanity. But what really chills is the realisation that whilst we can look away, back to the light; a probationary officer lives with the dark.

*The Truth About Books review*

On being 40...

Today is my birthday. I woke up singing the Sugar Cubes song `Birthday` and realised when I got to "they're smoking cigars" that it's a totally different type of birth-day, but you get the idea.
To be honest, it feels like it was my birthday yesterday what with being on Radio 4. Here's the link, if you missed it:

I was as pleased for my Dad as for me, as he listens to it every morning whilst he's shaving so for him it gives me the `stamp of credibility`. Afterwards, the team at Legend Press took me for lunch, including a bottle of champagne that the waiter reduced by 40% in honour of my birthday, and I came home to more celebrating as the Amazon ranking for all my novels was already benefit ting from the `Jenni factor`. Amazon have also reduced The Woman Before Me & The Sacrificial Man to just £4.

Happy at 40? You betcha!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

An outside chance...

I was please to read a review by Mike Ripley (he of SHOTSMAG) yesterday that described me as a `dark horse`in the field of crime writers and `one to watch`.
After all, who wants to be the tipped favourite, the one with short odds and everything to lose?

I remember being interviewed on Radio Suffolk by Georgina Wroe just after THE WOMAN BEFORE ME had been long listed for the New Angle Prize for literature, alongside such stellar writers as Blake Morrison and Ronald Blythe. It was the day after the gold cup, which I'd had a bet on, and I said to Georgina that I felt a bit like the horse that's been bought by a group of locals who clubbed together, kept in a stable in a field somewhere. There is love and passion in that, but not a huge amount of capital. Also in the race are horses from prestigious stables (think Hodder, think Penguin) and these animals have glossy coats and the best trainers...

And they're under starters orders...

So, THE SACRIFICIAL MAN is out in three weeks time, and will be vying for summer sales along with other books backed by big budgets and publicity tours while I'm hoofing it (pardon the pun!) from Windsor to Woking hoping to flog a few books to the unsuspecting public.
There is an outside chance that THE SACRIFICIAL MAN could make it as a bestseller - the odds are stacked, but I have everything to play for, and not much to lose. So, here goes nothing...

Want to support me? Then please buy the book or order it at your local library.
And if I'm book signing in a store near you, please pop in and say hi!

Another way you can help is to take a moment to vote for THE WOMAN BEFORE ME as People's Book Choice. Just click this link:
You have to register to vote (if you've already voted they'll send you a reminder of your password if you need it) and put a cross in the box. Voting is free, but prizes of books and tickets to the final are given out to randomly selected voters. I'm grateful to everyone who takes the time to vote for me. Another advantage of being the outside runner - everything is a bonus!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

People's Book Prize

Still on the subject of competitions and motivation, it was a real boost to see the comments from readers who voted for The Woman Before Me to win the People's Book Prize. Thanks to all who did!

Reader Comments
could not put this book down brilliant writing desperate for the truth in a complicated web of a troubled woman
What a fantastic read. A friend leant it to me and I have to say it is not the type of book I would usually read (normally I just like an easy to read romance) however I thought I would give it a go well, I couldn't put it down and finished it in less than 3 days a super book and I look forward to Ruth's next one.
Having just got back into reading regularly I found "The Woman Before Me" excellent, powerful & enthralling. I enjoyed every page & look forward to Ruth's 2nd novel.
Ruth Dugdall is brilliant. Please, please read her
Wonderful twist! Keeps you guessing to the end!
Couldn't put it down.
Great read, Well thought plot & well defined charaters. A readable and enticing story. I'm enjoying the local Suffolk setting.
best book i have read in a long time !!
Not only exciting and scary but beautifully written.
Great read
Wonderful story and brilliant writing
This book reads true. Great writing, riveting story, characters and dialogue are believable.
The twist is intense. A must read for fans of the genre!!!!!
a stimulating book
Brilliant, Ruthie!
I vote for this book
Great to see this doing so well!
I vote for this book for the peoples book award!
A great read with one almighty twist!
Excellent read and set around where I live so an added interest
excellent book
I didn't see the twist coming.
Excellent book. Really cant wait till the next book!!
Marvellous rollocking read. Near put the wind up my sales I can tell you
Really enjoyed this book, even more than her previous one. Looking forward to the next.
A joy to read. Well thought out and written thriller by an exciting new author. Look forward to reading more in the future.
A good read!
Great novel with absorbing characters. A very tense read.
A compelling read with a real surprise in the end! Looking forward to the next book already!
A fantastic read.
Extremely accomplished. I was unable to put this book down and read it in one setting. Sensitively written.
A gripping read right from the start, with lots of twists and turns. Once I started reading I couldn't stop.
Amazingly good. Had me hooked from the first page
Gripping, easy read with a surprising twist at the end.
A great read, with a clever twist
Great story, fluently written. I have recommended this book to others. I can't wait for the next one - is there one on the way? Hope so!
excellent book, couldn't put this down. read it several times too!!
Fantastic book. A real page turner and I couldn't put it down.
An excellent book. Totally absorbing and very thought-provoking.
Beautiful read! Love the voice! ;)
Brilliant read (what I've read sofar - the extract). The MC has a strong voice which is well depicted in the first person writing (even though I'm biased to first person writing). Very recommendable!
This is a wonderful, absorbing book which drew me in from the very first page. A fantastic read, can't recommend it highly enough.
Excellent book, you get to know every character in depth. I couldn't put it down. It gets my vote!
excellent read - pageturner and really good characters
A must read book for all readers wanting to read a great psychological thriller
Tense, page-turner of a book, seen from the unusual point of view of the 'criminal'. This book made me challenge some of my ideas and there is a great twist at the end. I couldn't put it down, would thoroughly recommend it!
A very strong thriller
This story gripped me from the very first page. Ruth Dugnall's writing is sublime - crisp, spare and utterly absorbing.
A compelling read with plenty of depth.
Well done, Ruth!
A brilliant page-turner - a great read.
Very good psychological thriller with an unusual point of view.
Brilliant read. Characters that stay with you long after you have raced through the book.

Tough skin?

I was interested to hear back from fellow writers who had some doubts about competitions as `morale-boosters` for struggling scribes. After all, most people don't win. True, indeed. And whilst I've had a lot of success I've entered lost far more competitions than I've won. But I don't think about those so much... PMA and all that.

Whilst it is true that failure is as inevitable risk with any competition - in fact a probability - there is something very motivating about a deadline (closing date) and if entering the comp does no more than spur the writer to complete and polish an opening chapter or short story, that alone has made it worthwhile.

The thing with writing is that it can be fairly depressing, what with rejections and writer's block and lack of time and then too much time but nothing to write about... in short, anything that works for YOU is good. And if that happens to be imaging wining a trophy (heh, heh) then why not?

Monday, 16 May 2011

Luke Bitmead Bursary

On Friday submissions opened for the 4th Luke Bitmead Writers Bursary. This week we will be posting up blogs from the previous winner's of the Bursary and today is one from 2009 winner Ruth Dugdall:
If you’re reading this, and thinking about entering the Luke Bitmead Bursary, you may be interested to know how winning the bursary changed my life.

All you need is a novel to submit. Mine was The Woman Before Me, a psychological thriller set in coastal Suffolk.

It’s about Rose Wilks, whose life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Alongside her in hospital is Emma, who has just given birth to Luke and the two women become friends. Joel dies and Luke is thriving – then tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.

The novel starts with Rose having spent five years behind bars. She is just weeks away from release if she can convince probation officer Cate Austin to recommend parole. As Cate is drawn into Rose’s story she begins to question everything she thought she knew about justice, love and obsession.

The Woman Before Me won the Debut Dagger in 2005, which was a watershed moment for me. Until then I’d thought of writing as a hobby – I’d self-published my first novel (The James Version) but was still working as a Probation Officer. The Dagger gave me the confidence to resign and dedicate myself to writing full-time.

The day after the Dagger awards I signed with a top agent and the novel was going to be submitted to six major publishing houses. I thought I had made it…

But that would have been just too easy. The Woman Before Me didn’t get picked up by the major publishers. They worried that it was ‘not commercial enough’, and that it didn’t fit neatly enough into the ‘crime novel’ box. It went into the bottom drawer and I started to write my third novel, The Sacrificial Man. I have to tell you, this was all pretty soul-destroying and I was really beginning to wonder if I was just kidding myself and I should just go back to work.

Then, in the summer of 2009, I saw the Luke Bitmead bursary advertised in Writer’s News. It seemed perfect for The Woman Before Me. The bursary aims to promote and publish a new writer each year, and was set up in memory of Luke Bitmead, a talented writer who sadly committed suicide.

When I won the award in October 2009 I cried through much of the ceremony, knowing that I would finally see my novel in print. So, after waiting nearly five years, I finally achieved my goal!

Winning the bursary changed everything for me. The Woman Before Me was published in August 2010. Since then it has been short-listed for The New Angle Prize for literature and is through to the finals of The People’s Book Prize. It is already in its third print run, and rising in the Amazon ranks with 33 positive reviews. Rights have been sold in Germany, India, Turkey and large print.

And the good news doesn’t stop there: Legend Press will be publishing The Sacrificial Man, next month! Starting tomorrow I have a whirlwind of book signings, talks and events going right up until Christmas...

I had so many days when I thought this would never happen, and now it has it’s truly wonderful. A real dream-come-true.

To be a writer you have to be tenacious and dogged – having a strong support network helps. I would urge any new writers to consider competitions as a way of getting a foot in the door. The closing date for this year's Luke Bitmead Bursary is August 31st.

So, what are you waiting for?

Good luck!


Monday, 9 May 2011

Caxton Books, Frinton on Sea, Essex event

Thursday 19th May at The Cookery Workshop, 7-9pm

Wine & Canapés with author Ruth Dugdall

The award-winning Felixstowe based author will be talking about her psychological thriller The Woman Before Me, which is based in and around Ipswich. Bryan and Jo Beattie of Coastalfoods will be providing delicious canapés and we will be offering a glass (or two) of wine, orange juice or mineral water.

Tickets are £10 with 10% off the book.

For more information please contact Tel: 01255 851505

Thursday, 28 April 2011


Ruth Dugdall, whose 2005 Debut Dagger-winning The Women Before Me is now in the running for this year’s The People’s Book Prize, will be leading an all-day workshop on 7 May with Creative Writing Groups, based in Brantham.
Ruth’s workshop, on novel-writing, will consist of a series of short talks on various aspects of the writing longer fiction, interspersed with breaks in which workshop partipants can practice the outlined skills.
The cost for the workshop, which starts at 9.30am and finishes at 4pm, is £54 per person and includes lunch and refreshments. Places are limited, and can be booked by calling Creative Writing Groups on 01473 858429 or online at
Ruth’s third novel, The Sacrificial Man, will be published in June.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Book Launch - Everyone welcome!


Book Launch
Ruth Dugdall
The Sacrificial Man

Saturday, 25 June 2011, 6:30PM
Tickets £3, available in store and redeemable against purchase of the book on the night
Local author and winner of the CWA Debut Dagger Award, Ruth Dugdall, will be in store to launch her new novel ‘The Sacrificial Man’ - a gripping tale that explores the very fine line between murder and euthanasia

Further details: 01473 289044

Monday, 4 April 2011

Reflecting on 8 months in print...

I wish that on the 18th August last year I’d written something down, just taken a moment from the launch of my novel to write a few lines about my expectations and hopes for the novel. I stopped keeping a diary years ago (least said about that the better…) but if I had penned by thoughts I think that, at best, I’d have hoped to sell maybe a thousand books. A few local book signings would have been nice, perhaps a feature in the local press. My expectations would have been modest but also realistic – most debut authors don’t sell many books. And everyone has witnessed the sight of an author sitting forlorn behind a desk in a bookshop shadowed by an unsold pile of their life’s work…

But I’ve been lucky. And pushy. And something has happened that seems to be largely a result of word of mouth resulting in more sales and more people who want me to talk to their book club or woman’s institute meeting or rotary club…

When Legend Press published me I said them ‘send me anywhere; I’ll go. I’ll talk to anyone’. I may have regretted my words when the tenacious Lucy managed to get me onto the Jeremy Vine show to talk about a subject totally unrelated to my novel, but I did it. I arrived at a book signing in Windsor after my sat nav sent me on a three-hour detour through central London, but I turned up and sold books for six hours. I went through heavy snow to talk to a book club of six, only two of whom had actually read the novel… oh the joys! But I am grateful, profoundly grateful, that Legend took a punt on me when mainstream publishing houses said The Woman Before Me was ‘too dark’ ‘didn’t fit neatly into any one genre’ ‘had no commercial appeal’. Despite winning the Debut Dagger in 2005 the manuscript was roundly rejected and took five years to find a home with Legend Press via the Luke Bitmead Bursary. And what has happened since has left me wondering just how in touch those big publishing houses are with the public taste. Consider the evidence:

The Woman Before me was published in August 2010.
By Christmas we were into a second run. The publishing rights have been sold to Germany and India. Large print rights have also sold. I have been interviewed on radio in counties as diverse as Yorkshire and Sussex, West Midlands and Cambridgshire. I have done book signings as far flung as Coventry and Woking, Lowestoft and Slough. My novel is the summer read for the Westcliffe WI and the Bungay Festival. It was long listed for the New Angle Prize for literature.

I wake every day a little shell-shocked at how my writing career, so long a Sisyphean uphill struggle, is gathering pace like a snowball rolling down the other side.

In June Legend Press are publishing my next novel, The Sacrificial Man. This novel also had it’s share of mainstream rejections for being ‘too dark’ and editors wondered if readers would be interested in a suicide pact where a man asked his lover to kill and eat him…
We’ll see.
I’m sacred, I admit. I can see that The Sacrificial Man is an uncompromising read as it explores an odd world of love and obsession. I hope that I can take the readers I have gained with me, on a journey that the mainstream commercial publishers would never have been brave enough to sanction. Want to travel with me?

Monday, 14 March 2011

The Sacrificial Man

Ruth Dugdall's second novel out in June

Legend Press are very excited about the launch of Ruth Dugdall's second novel The Sacrificial Man this summer on 25th June 2011. As a sneak preview below is the blurb for this great book:

What I want to say is that suicide is my choice. No-one else is to blame. Man seeks beautiful woman for the journey of a lifetime: Will you help me to die?

When Probation Officer Cate Austin is given her new assignment, she faces the highest-profile case of her career. Alice Mariani is charged with assisted suicide and Cate must recommend a sentence.

Alice insists her story is one of misinterpreted love, forcing those around her to analyse their own lives. Who is to decide what is normal and when does loyalty turn to obsession?

Investigating the loophole that lies between murder and euthanasia, Cate must now meet the woman who agreed to comply with her lover’s final request. Shocking revelations expose bitter truths that can no longer be ignored

Sunday, 6 March 2011

People's Book Prize

I am delighted to say that The Woman Before Me won enough public support to be one of the 3 fiction novels to win the 'winter' round of the People's Book Prize.
Each season a new set of books, nominated by publishers, are put up for public vote and the top 3 go forward to the final in July.

So, there will be 12 fiction novels competing for the title of People's Book, and I'm so pleased to have had the support to get this far.

Thanks to everyone who voted!

On another note, last night was World Book Night and I was at Waterstones, Ipswich for this fantastic event. Five `givers` of books were handing out fantastic titles like 'Stuart' and 'Agent Zig Zag'. I was there to sign copies of my novels, alongside Guy Saville whose debut novel 'Afrika Reich' is un-put-downable. A really great, pacy read with enough depth to provide food for thought after the journey ends.

Over bucks fizz & pretzels we wandered around the store, chatted about books & had a thoroughly lovely evening. Let's hope this initiative introduces more people to books!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

New Angle Prize

The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall has been featured on the Lesley Dolphin show on BBC Radio Suffolk, following its longlisting for the New Angle Prize for Literature.

Ruth's hotly anticipated second novel The Sacrificial Man is published by Legend Press on 25th June 2011.

You can listen to the feature by clicking here and going to 1:55hr:

Monday, 28 February 2011

World Book Night / New Angle Prize

Celebrate World Book Night with
Ruth Dugdall whose novel The Woman Before Me has just been longlisted for the New Angle Prize for Literature 2011.

Saturday, 5 March 2011, 7:00PM - 9:00PM
Local author Ruth Dugdall will be in store to help us celebrate World Book Night. She will be signing her books 'The James Version' and the prize winning 'The Woman Before Me'. Both available to purchase on the night.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Beccles Library Event

Ruth Dugdall

will be speaking about her books
‘The Woman Before Me’
‘The James Version’

at Beccles Library
Monday 7th March, 7:30pm

(this is a FREE EVENT! Admission by ticket only - available at the library)

Signed copies of both books available for £7.99 each on the evening.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Biting my nails... I wait for 2.10 to come around when Lesley Dolphin will be reviewing The Woman Before Me live on Radio Suffolk.

Here's the link:

Hope she likes it!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Amazon ranking!

Having done my usual obsessive morning routine I was delighted to discover my Amazon ranking has gone up! Just goes to show that radio shows do spread the word...
I also found out yesterday that Legend Press have sold the Indian rights for The Woman Before Me.
What a wonderful start to the day!x

Publisher: Legend Press Ltd (28 Aug 2010)
Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
5 star: (12)
4 star: (3)
3 star: (0)
2 star: (0)
1 star: (0)

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Monday, 24 January 2011


Today I was the `sofa guest` on Lesley Dolphin's show.
Here's the link (scroll on to just after 3pm!)

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Listen Again!

Ruth on 3 BBC Radio stations yesterday

Ruth Dugdall was busy promoting The Woman Before Me on BBC local radio stations yesterday. She will be signing copies at Waterstone's Staines this Saturday from 11am.

You can listen to her on iplayer on BBC Sussex by clicking:

Ruth's interview starts at 36:06.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Ruth Dugdall on BBC Radio today

Ruth Dugdall will be speaking about her debut novel The Woman Before Me on 3 BBC Radio stations today:

- 1:40pm on BBC Radio Surrey with Sarah Gorrell

- This afternoon from 4pm - Interview with Paul Franks for BBC West Midlands

- This evening from 7pm - Interview with Sue Marchant for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

It is great to see the word spreading for this fantastically gripping novel!

If you haven't already take a read of this brilliant book