Today in the Library I am delighted to have award winning Irish author Ruth Frances Long, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as a busy author.
You are very welcome Ruth, would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
I write dark young adult fantasy, often about scary fairies, such as The Treachery of Beautiful Things, A Crack in Everything, A Hollow in the Hills and the forthcoming A Darkness at the End. (O’Brien Press, 2016). I also write fantasy and paranormal romance.
I live in Wicklow and work in a specialized library of rare, unusual & occasionally crazy books. But they don’t talk to me that often.
In 2015, I won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
Absolutely. I devoured books as a child, spending hours in my local libraries. I got an adult ticket quite early on because I had read just about everything in the junior library. I was also lucky enough to have a superb second hand bookshop in my town where I picked up all sorts of unusual and interesting things. I’m still an avid reader but lack the time to read these days. I always feel I should be writing. I read quite widely, not just YA or fantasy. I’m very fond of crime and thrillers, and also of historical fiction. So long as the book is gripping I will read it. I love a page turner.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
Currently I am traditionally published but I have self published in the past. I was originally published with an ebook first publisher, with the print following some months later. It was a great adventure and a super way to learn the ropes.
Which genre do you write in and why?
I primarily write Young Adult these days, although I’ve written romance and fantasy as well. I love the voice of Young Adult books. Most of the characters that pop into my head seem to belong there. The themes are so interesting and of universal interest. If we aren’t teens now, we were once. There’s hope and engagement in these characters, a desire to fight and change things. It’s exhilarating. The characters are larger than life, but very real. They leap off the page.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
This is a very tough question because it hasn’t just been one person but a range of authors. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence, and Alan Garner’s books have been really important to me. Add to that Tolkien, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. But probably the biggest influence of all was discovering the world of folklore and the way it interweaves itself into our lives. So it’s a concept rather than a person. It’s also something that all of these authors do so well. They are storytellers, and storytelling lies at the heart of a culture. It shapes how people think and act, highlights what is important to them and what they fear. That thought fascinates me and all my stories grow from some sort of folklorish element.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Very much so. I love Irish legends and folk tales and they have burrowed themselves deep in between the words I write. A Crack in Everything, A Hollow in the Hills and A Darkness at the End are intricately woven with Irish myths and legends. But I didn’t go with the great mythological sagas. I wanted to explore the idea of the everyday supernatural that exists in so much of Irish folklore. The Sídhe live beside us, under those hills just there. They’re very much a part of daily life and their stories are rooted in a specific landscape. I was interested in looking at that in a modern setting. I also loved the story of how Ireland was divided between the Sídhe and human beings. It was agreed that the island should be split in half but the humans cheated and used magic to divide it so the Sídhe were forced to live “underground”. And the wonderful Irish legend about the Sídhe being former angels who didn’t take a side in the war in heaven and were exiled rather than damned. There is so much in these stories and I still think I have only scratched the surface.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
For me the hardest part is the initial writing. It’s that process of taking something that is a beautiful shining image in your mind and getting it down on the page/screen. You lose so much doing that, and the thing that ends up there isn’t as good. It has to be edited to make it shiny again. Keeping going is the hardest part. I make myself write a little every day in order to get there, promising myself I can fix it later. I have to turn off my internal editor or I would never get anything written. Finding the time to write can be a challenge. I have a job and a family, but it’s worth it in the end.
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
I usually write in the evenings, not because it’s my favourite time but it’s the time when I have time. I curl up on the sofa and type/edit or take a notebook up to bed with me and write in bed. I also carry a notebook with me all the time and write whenever I get a moment.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
The best is when someone gets your work – the moment of communication between writer and reader. It’s really magical. I adore it when someone tells me how much they love something I wrote, because I’ve done my job and done it well enough that that person loves my imaginary people.
The worst… paranoia, the fear, inability to write… actually none of these things are actually unique to being a writer, just to being a human being. But I believe writers and artists in general have a highly developed sense of empathy and sometimes that makes us all a bit prone to overthinking and worrying.
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I quite enjoy social media. I have made a lot of friends through it. I work alone a lot of the time in both my day job and while writing so it’s a great source of company. The main thing to remember is that it’s a conversation, not a way of selling something. I really enjoy a number of forums, all for different things. I love Facebook for longer discussions, and Instagram for pictures. Pinterest is great for image boards and I make one for each WIP. But I think Twitter is still my favourite. It’s just busy all the time. And it’s amazing for big events (like the Eurovision, slightly obsessed).
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
By day, I am a specialist librarian. So I would be that, only for more time.
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Although I’d try to speed read so I could read some more books as well. Only one?! That’s not fair. 😀
Please tell us about your latest published work.
My next book is A Darkness at the End, which is the third book in my Dubh Linn series which started with the award winning A Crack in Everything and its sequel A Hollow in the Hills. It’s urban fantasy set in Dublin, using Irish folklore and mythology as its basis. I don’t have an official cover or blurb just yet but here are the covers for the first two.
If you would like to know more about Ruth and her work check out her links below: