Tuesday 13 March 2018

The Woman Before Me
Ruth Dugdall
Author Q&A
Today, I am delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall. I have a Q&A for you from the author and I must say, this is getting great reviews and sounds a fab read! I think it may be worthy of adding to the ever growing TBR pile!

They came for me, just like I knew they would. Luke had been dead for just three days.  

Rose Wilks' life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Emma Hatcher has all that Rose lacks. Beauty. A loving husband. A healthy son. Until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect. 

Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke's death, or whether she remains a threat to society. As Cate is drawn in, she begins to doubt her own judgement.  

Where is the line between love and obsession, can justice be served and, if so... by what means? 

Author Q&A
Ruth Dugdall

Hi. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.

You are welcome – thank for having me!

Firstly, please could you tell readers a little about yourself?
Well, I’m a crime writer and in April my 7th novel, The Things You Didn’t See, will be published. Also, my debut novel The Woman Before Me, has just been re-published in a new edition, so that’s exciting.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
One of my friends says she recalls me telling her I wanted to be a writer on the first day of secondary school. I do remember going to a funeral when I was very young – maybe about twelve – and when my mum asked if I was sure I wanted to go I said that I did because I might write about it one day. The memory surprises me, as I sound precocious which I don’t think I was, but it also shows how young I was when I developed an interest in dark material.

What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?
I was a probation officer, which was a job I loved, and I only gave it up when I realised I was simply spreading myself too thin with that, the writing and two kids.
The probation world is vastly misunderstood profession, but they are the unsung heroes of the Criminal Justice system – for example, probation officers have more face-to-face contact with criminals than any other profession but they are never featured in crime films or novels. I have four books with a probation officer, Cate Austin, at the centre so I’m trying to do my bit to remedy that! Also, write what you know is the old maxim, so it was natural for me to write from that point of view.

How do you carry out the research for your novels?
I often draw on cases or crimes I have some knowledge of, or have come into contact with, and will reach out to anyone who can help. For example, The Things You Didn’t See introduces my new protagonist Holly Redwood and she has mirror-touch synaesthesia. I spoke to someone with the condition, and a researcher who specialises in the topic, but I also read everything I could find on it.
Research has taken me to some weird and wonderful places – a gun club, a wolf sanctuary, The Humber Bridge… I love to walk in the steps of my characters and very much enjoy learning about new things.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I’m very motivated, so sitting and getting words on the page is usually okay for me. Because I am quite a high-energy person I am less good at slowing down and plotting, so I often write a draft and then discover I have to delete thousands of words to make the story work. But that’s okay too – it’s part of my process, and I prefer to write organically and let the plot develop that way. It’s just more time consuming.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
When I’m drafting a novel I set myself a daily target of 1000 words, for me that is realistic and achievable. I’ll then be doing research on top of that, which is likely to include reading or watching relevant films, talking to people, or visiting places. I always have a notebook on me and will jot down anything that might be useful.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read?
I read widely, and several books at any one time. Right now I’m reading books on Silicon Valley (for research), some Nordic Noir (for a night class I’m taking) and an American self-help book (for book club).

How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?
Hugely. It’s a way to reach out to people, to have conversations with readers and other authors. Personally, I like that it makes me accessible to people if they have any comments or feedback – I love hearing from someone who has just read one of books and it resonated with them. That’s what it’s all about really.

Could you tell the readers a bit about your latest book?
The Things You Didn’t See is set in a farmhouse on Innocence Lane, Suffolk. Cassandra wakes to the sound of gunshot, and discovers her mother, Maya, at the bottom of the stairs, the gun nearby. As Maya fights for her life in hospital, police and family all assume she shot herself. But Cassandra isn’t so sure.
Her only ally in discovering the truth is student paramedic Holly Redwood. But Holly has a secret of her own – she has mirror touch synaesthesia. And her senses are telling her something is very wrong at Innocence Lane.
Both women will come to see that discovering the truth is dangerous and will come to question just how much they want to know.

Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
Well, my probation officer Cate Austin has the most in common with me, givekl her job, but there are plenty of differences too – thank goodness! Her love life is very erratic, and her mother is an alcoholic….
I write about dysfunctional people in strange and unusual situations, so I can’t say I’d want to be any of them.

Is there anything else you would have liked to be asked?
About what I’m working on now. I’ve just moved to Silicon Valley in California, so I’m going to set my next book on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto. I like to explore the underbelly of places, the hidden secrets. I’ve found plenty and I’ve only been here 6 months!

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.

My pleasure.
Any further questions, please get in touch!
Also, for readers, I’m on Twitter: @ruthdugdall
#and Facebook: Ruth Dugdall author
I also have a website, Ruthdugdall.com, which has a `contact Ruth` option.

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