Sunday, 25 November 2012



Thanks to Rebecca Giltrow (, fellow Suffolk author, for tagging me in the NEXT BIG THING. This is basically a literary pyramid scheme, except instead of having to send a chocoloate bar or a pair of knickers (anyone else remember that one?) you simply have to answer some questions on your blog. So I shall do so, in the hope that someone will still send me a bar of chocolate…(don’t worry about the knickers. That one always struck me as a bit odd.)

What is the working title of your book? My Sister & Other Liars.

Where did the idea come from for the book? As always with my writing, it is inspired by a real event. Several years ago I was watching a TV programme about a young girl whose sister had been attacked, and left brain damaged. The girl was told that the police had no idea who had attacked her sister and they were closing the case.

My novel starts at exactly that point, fictionally working through what a girl in that position would feel and think and – most importantly – do.

What genre does your book fall under? It’s a crime thriller. I’m hoping it will appeal to young adults, as well as older readers, as Sam is just sixteen years old when she receives this devastating news. She decides that, if the police can’t bring her sister’s attacker to justice, then she will. The story takes place over the following 2 weeks, culminating on her 17th birthday, which is also the anniversary of the attack.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? I really love the actress, Jennifer Lawrence, from Winter’s Bone & The Hunger Games. In fact, I’m going to see her tonight in Silver Linings Playbook. I think she’d sensitively show the dark aspect to Sam, but also her vulnerability. However, at 21 she’s too old, so I’d go for an unknown British actress who no one’s heard of in the hope that she would bring an authentic vibe with her debut performance. I like the idea of taking a chance on a newcomer, because that’s what Legend Press did with me.  

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? “In two weeks I’m going to be 17, I’m also going to be a killer.”

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’m represented by Clare Conville at Conville & Walsh so I’m very, very fortunate.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Months. Years. Who’s counting? It’s not a race, and the reader doesn’t care how long it took, just so long as it’s a damn good read!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’m interested in Gillian Flynn’s writing as she also explores family dramas through the crime lens. I also like Laura Kasischke and Anita Shreve.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? It’s the story in the brain that won’t be silenced. I’m attracted to stories that raise my anxiety, those newspaper headlines that linger long after the paper has been binned. Writing is my way of working through it. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Sam has anorexia, and I’ve done so much research on the subject that I’m pretty sure I could tube someone if they needed me to. It’s a horrible, obsessive, pervasive sickness and I hope I’ve portrayed it authentically.  

Okay, my 5 tags are writers I like and admire:
Gary Murning
Guy Mankowski
Sophie Duffy  sophieduffy.wordpress. com

Josie Henley-Einion

Andrew Blackman

Friday, 14 September 2012

Waiting for Wymondham

I am really excited about appearing at the Wymondham Words festival next week, alongside Jim Kelly. I know I'm excited because last night I had a dream about it. It was raining, and my books got sodden, and I was late! A typical anxiety dream, which I interpret as my brain `getting ready`. Am I anxious? Well, of course. It's a public event and a little performance nerves is natural. But I also see this as a great opportunity to meet readers, and to hear when they have to say, as there will be a q&a session. Also, I feel honoured to be teamed with Jim, whom I first met about ten years ago. I bought a book and asked him to sign it! I've seen him since (at Bodies in the Bookshop, Cambridge) and that was around the time of the New Angle Prize for Literature 2012. I was long-listed, but Jim actually won it. Our chair is Ed Parnell, a fellow Escalator alumni, so I feel in safe hands. If anyone wants more details the website is

Monday, 23 July 2012

Luke Bitmead Bursary. It was how I got published!

Legend Press are excited to announce the opening of entries for the 2012 Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary. The award was set up shortly after Luke’s death in 2006 by his family to support and encourage the work of fledgling novel writers. The bursary is now the UK’s biggest award for unpublished authors. The top prize is a publishing contract with Legend Press, as well as a cash bursary. Luke is the author of the brilliant White Summer (the first novel to be published by Legend Press), co-author of Heading South and his final novel The Body is a Temple will be published posthumously on 1st June 2012. Information about Luke can be found at Legend Press are pleased to be continuing this brilliant bursary for a fifth year, and hope to follow in the success of our previous winners Andrew Blackman (On the Holloway Road, published February 2009), Ruth Dugdall (The Woman Before Me, August 2010), Sophie Duffy (The Generation Game, August 2011) and J.R. Crook (Sleeping Patterns, July 2012). Submissions from writers will be accepted from today 1st May until 3rd August 2012 Only adult fiction is eligible for this bursary. The author must be a UK resident. The judging panel will consist of Luke’s family, Legend Press and authors - with the full panel announced shortly. Novels must be already completed before entry. Unfinished manuscripts will not be accepted. Your entry should be sent by email and must include the following: - The first 3-4 chapters of your novel - A detailed synopsis (max 1 page) – this should include the word count of your novel - A personal statement outlining why you would particularly benefit from the bursary. Submissions should be sent to: Entrants must be aged 16 or over. There is no upper age restriction for entry but all submissions must be from first-time, non-published authors – particularly those who are talented but whose personal or financial circumstances are making it especially hard for them to focus on writing as a career. The 2011 bursary was inundated with entries and we look forward to reading your work and discovering more talented authors, to join our fantastic alumni! For all enquiries please email

Friday, 20 July 2012

Love Sick

When I was in Sainsbury’s yesterday I bumped into an old friend. It was been two decades since I’d last seen her, when we stalked nightclubs together blagging free drinks from unsuitable men. I remembered that her boyfriend at the time, a very handsome guy with Kurt Cobain looks & matching melancholy, had asked her out and – when she said yes – promptly vomited. Being young (ish) and prone to love stories with an element of pain, I was always stunned that this single act of devotion had not been enough to sustain their relationship. What more, I wanted to know, could a man do if losing control of his body functions was not proof enough of love? I’ve always wanted love in my life, the kind with a capital L. Rows & recriminations, tears & tantrums and kisses passionate enough to make your mouth bleed. It’s a minor miracle that I’ve managed to stay with one man for 16 years, but luckily he never shouts, rarely swears and is an Alka Seltza to my more turbulent appetites. But the security and stability in my own life has not stopped me wanting to explore the pain and power of doomed love in my novels. As a writer I was initially unaware of the demands that haunted me, writing my narrative with an ear for the story, the dialogue, the characters but not the darker truths. Only later, when discussing the books with groups, did it become clearer that the same themes are there, the same pre-occupations. This isn’t unusual. My daughter’s favourite author, Jacqueline Wilson, has written droves of books about mother who abandoned their offspring for a variety of reasons. My own favourite, Margaret Attwood, re-visits again and again the subject of woman’s identity. Josephine Hart wrote a series of `damaged` women, wreaking havoc on innocent males. Love is at the heart of all of my novels, but it is not necessarily the most obvious story. In The Sacrificial Man the simplest, purest love is that of Lee and Alice. For Rose (The Woman Before Me) it is the love she feels for her mother. Ann in The James Version has a fatal love for William… it is these passions, thwarted as they are for various reasons, which leads the protagonist to unwise decisions and ultimate moral destruction. In Sainsbury’s I exchanged a few words with my old friends and we parted in the coffee isle. But what I really wanted to ask her was if she’d ever found another lover who vomited for her? Perhaps she would have thought it a weird question, or may even have forgotten it ever happened. But for me it was a love story.

Friday, 2 March 2012

WANTED: Critical Teenagers

So, teenagers can be difficult and taciturn and generally negative? Good! That is what I want. Five of them, to be exact.
Why, you ask?

Well, my current project is a novel entitled em>My Sister and Other Liars. It tells the story of Sam, a sassy and sardonic teen who is approaching her eighteenth birthday.
When Sam was nearly ten her sister, Jena, was attacked and left for dead. Jena is now brain-damaged, and lives in a community hospital, unable to remember anything about the attack.

The police have no leads, they are closing the case. So Sam has decided to take matters into her own hands.
She intends to find the man who attacked her sister, and to kill him.

Because most of the novel is told in Sam's voice I want five teenagers to read the novel and tell me what I've got wrong. Is Sam's voice convincing? What about the bands she likes and clothes she wears? What could I improve?

There is a prize!

All five of my critics will get a credit in the book when it is published and an invite to the launch party. They will also get signed copies of my other novels or (if they prefer) a book voucher.
The teenager who gives me the most useful feedback will also have their name (or one of their choice) used in the novel.

How does that sound?

If you know of any teenagers who love reading and would enjoy helping me, then please contact me via my website,, where you will find a `contact Ruth` button.

Many thanks!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Southend Libraries Book Festival 2012 marks the bicentenary celebration of the birth of Charles Dickens. His legacy still makes an impact in film, radio and theatre today. We are delighted therefore to bring Simon Callow to launch this year's festival with his talk 'Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World.' This wonderful event brings to Southend one of our best loved actors and a tribute to the great Victorian writer. Please note: Please contact us to check ticket availability for Simon Callow, Gold Pass Tickets and Silver Pass Tickets. Simon Callow Friday 2nd March 7.30-9.30pm His career spans a wealth of film, theatre and writing but for most of us he remains one of our favourite actors, appearing in Four Weddings and a Funeral, A Room with a View and many others. His talk 'Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World' launches this year's festival and will be hugely popular so book early to reserve your place. Individual tickets £10 or book as part of a gold or silver pass. Please contact us to check ticket availability Andrew Miller and Kevin Howarth (narrator) Thursday 8th March 7.30-9.30pm Shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize, Snowdrops documents a life of crime, corruption and moral decline in modern Russia. Andrew's debut novel was written while he was the Moscow Correspondent for the Economist but he emphasises it is not an autobiographical account. The novel comes to life in the expert hands of actor and narrator Kevin Howarth making this a truly memorable evening. Individual tickets £5 or book as part of a gold or silver pass Ruth Dugdall Wednesday 14th March, 7.30-9.30pm Award winning author Ruth Dugdall brings a fantastic novel in 'The Sacrificial Man.' A psychological thriller, the book weaves a tale that is both surprising and disturbing. Winning the Debut Dagger Award in 2005 set Ruth on the path to success as a writer but she remains keen to help others in the field and regularly runs workshops to help bring new talent to life. She is an inspiration and a wonderful speaker. Individual tickets £5 or book as part of a gold or silver pass Vicky Kelly/Abbie Norbury and Relaxation/Rejuvenation Workshop with Saturday 24th March 11-1pm We are delighted to bring this local author and life coach for this wonderful workshop designed to help you get what you really want out of life. The session begins with a look at wellbeing and how to prevent stress and illness. As most people juggle too much the workshop will teach you techniques to unwind and help you find your point of control. To finish the morning you will learn gentle and restorative yoga poses which help quiet the mind and relax the body. They are designed for everyone and you need no prior experience. This workshop is a must if you simply want to relax and enjoy life more, no matter what demands you have to deal with. Check out the website on Tickets £5 or book as part of a gold pass Robert Goddard Friday 30th March 7.30-9.30pm His books regularly hit the Sunday Times Bestseller Lists, he is a master writer enthralling all with his plots and characters, his latest book Fault Line appears on the 29th March but perhaps most of all he is one of the most entertaining authors you can wish to hear - a great finale to our festival this year. Tickets £7 or book as part of a gold or silver pass Gold Pass Ticket - entrance to all events £26 Silver Pass Ticket - entrance to events but not the Workshop £22 All tickets include refreshments. To Book online please use the online form, phone 01702 215011 or visit the central library. All events take place at Southend Central Library, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, SS2 6EX

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My love affair with Amazon

Like all affairs, it is not always easy. Amazon is a fickle lover - one day I am rising the ranks, flushed with the excitement of seeing my sales increase and Amazon feeds me sweet statistics, telling me sales of Sacrificial Man are up 2000% (with my stunted maths knowledge I didn't even know that was possible...) Other days I will log on, blissfully ignorant of the horror that waits in the form of a scathing review. I see the star ranking first, and sometimes log off, refusing to scroll lower and read the damning reviews. Once I did this and, after restraining myself for three and a quarter hours, burst out during a family walk, "I got a shit review on Amazon." Hubbie, one step ahead as always, nodded sagely. "Yes. I saw." So, at the stroke of twelve on New Year's Eve I released my Chinese lantern into the air and resolved: I will NOT look at Amazon. I will beat this obsession. The book is the point. I worked hard, and I'm pleased with the end result. Let that be enough. Oh, fool, that I was.... Today a friend e-mailed me to ask if I knew my books are currently 99p on the spurned site? Then I saw this on my publisher's site: The Woman Before Me - 25 in the Amazon Kindle Chart Coming into the office this morning it was fantastic to see that The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall is currently number 25 in the Amazon Kindle chart. The book is currently being promoted by Amazon for 99p. It is fantastic to see this brilliant book doing so well... even beating Stieg Larsson, P.D. James and Martina Cole in the rankings. If you haven't read it yet, make sure you pick up a copy and let us know what you think So, back I go, to the arms of Amazon. Still scared to scroll down too far, doing it with one eye half-closed horror-film style. My resolution broken, and it's only January 3rd.