Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Writer Spotlight: Jessica Ruston
On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.
This week, I'm thrilled to welcome the wonderful JESSICA RUSTON into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight.
Her new novel, The Darker Side of Love is released on 16th February and should definitely be on your wish-list! I managed to grab five minutes with Jessica to ask about her life as a writer.
When did you first decide that you wanted to write?
I grew up in a family of writers - my mother's a novelist and my father's a Shakespeare scholar, so I was always surrounded by words. I started off writing screenplays in my early twenties, then moved on to non-fiction and journalism, and finally realised I couldn't put off the inevitable any longer and published my first novel when I was 31.
What interests you as a writer?
So much. Creating new characters, creating worlds. Parallel narratives, unreliable narrators, characters that hide things from the reader as well as from other characters/themselves. Multiple viewpoints, shifting backwards and forwards in time... It's endless, really. There's always a new challenge, something new to try and make work.
Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?
Ish. When I'm working on a new book I tend to write first thing in the morning – I set an alarm (a really gentle one called Sleep Cycle on my iphone – I highly recommend if you have to get up early as it wakes you when you're in a period of light sleep so you don't feel awful) really early, sometimes as early as 5.30, and do a few hours then when it's quiet and dark and before everyone's woken up. I find that when I'm writing that first draft, getting the words down first thing, before the day intrudes and emails and phone calls get into my head, is the best way. Depending on what state of deadline panic I'm in I'll try and get between 2-3,000 words then each day. Sometimes more - when I'm nearing the end of a book I tend to go quicker, like running down a big hill. Then I'll get up, answer emails, play with my website, mess about on twitter, do general jobs. Then I might go to the gym or whatever else I have to do that day, and then use the afternoon to do other work - journalism, or research, or working on new ideas, or marking assignments for the courses I teach, for instance. Sometimes I'll come back to the book in the evening. There's a quote about writing working best at the edges of the day, and I think it's true for me.
What inspires you as a writer?
Oh, it changes constantly. I pick up inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, like a magpie. Other writers, people I meet, songs. Relationships, family dynamics. I'm constantly trying to unpick relationships in my writing, and burrow under the surface of people. Fragments of memories, photographs, images. I'm quite visual. As pretentious as it sounds, the book I'm working on at the moment was inspired by a line from a Louis MacNiece poem, Autumn Journal.
What are the best things about being a writer?
Getting paid to do what I really love. Being able to read novels and watch TV and call it important research and therefore work. Being able to work from my bed.
And the worst?
There's nothing properly awful about it. I mean, I'm not a big fan of working through my copy edits and having my embarrassing errors pointed out to me, but it's not much of a hardship really.
Tell me about what you're working on now.
My fourth novel. I won't say the title yet as I'm not sure whether it'll get changed (though I hope not!) but it's about a woman trying to discover the truth about her family, in particular her mother, as a result of a key that she receives in the post... Lots of secrets and family dynamics and the past coming back to haunt... As I said earlier, it's also the first time that I've written a significant chunk of words in the first person, so I hope I pull that off!
What would be your top three tips for aspiring writers?
1. Read, of course, but 'just' reading isn't enough - you need to read widely and thoughtfully.
2. Be curious.
3. Keep going.
Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?
There's a play that I've wanted to write a film adaptation of for years. I still haven't found quite the right angle on it, but I'm getting closer... I'll get there!
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks very much for having me! I really hope you enjoy The Darker Side of Love if you get to read it. Here's some more info about it:
Lies: we all tell them.
To protect those we love, to disguise failure, to hide disappointment. To mask betrayal, or deceit. But what happens when those lies start to catch up with us? When our lives begin to be shaped by the lies of others?
The late 'noughties'. A global recession looms. A group of old friends, all leading outwardly successful, interesting lives. All in apparently loving, secure relationships. Yet all, in some way, lying to those closest to them, concealing secret worries, jealousies, desires. This group of friends is about to discover that the truth won't stay buried for ever...
Welcome to the darker side of love.
Thanks so much to Jessica for stepping into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight!
I can't wait to read The Darker Side of Love - I loved both of her other novels.
You can find out more about Jessica on her website, read about her writing courses, book to join a course here and follow her on twitter @JessRuston