Monday, 18 April 2011
Ruth Saberton teaches Media Studies part time at Bodmin College and spends the rest of her time writing novels and short stories. Published with Orion under her real name, she also writes as Jessica Fox with a series of five books under Headline’s, Little Black Dress imprint.
Ruth’s writing courses HERE
Katy Carter Wants a Hero
Ellie Andrews Has Second Thoughts (released in May)
As Jessica Fox
Tell us about your proudest writing achievement.
My proudest writing achievement has to be the day that 'Katy Carter Wants a Hero' was published. Honestly, nothing beats the feeling of holding a bound copy of your own novel and seeing piles of it in the shops. It really is a dream come true. I also love it when readers email me to say that they’ve enjoyed my books – that’s the nicest thing in the world and I’m always so touched they’ve taken the time to write to me. I was also really excited when 'Katy Carter' was shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Comedy of the Year Award. I’m an award nominated author! Wow!
What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
My writing strengths? Hmm, probably that I have LOADS of ideas and never run out of plots. I must have about ten books planned and I’m desperate to get on with them all. I also really fancy writing historical/paranormal romance and I have a very exciting novel in mind. And another publisher wants me to write novels about horses (I love horses – when not writing, I’m out riding) so I’m working on this, too.
My weakness probably has to be that I’m very short on time. Because baby authors don’t earn big bucks I’m still teaching to pay the bills. Teaching is very demanding and I have so much marking and planning that I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever get it all done and be able to find a second to write. By eight pm I normally want to collapse into bed!
Do you have a writing routine or any odd writing quirks?
I like to write in bed! All I need is my lap top, the cat and the telly on in the background and I’m away. I also love writing on the train when I’m travelling from Cornwall up to London. It’s always fun looking back on sections of my novels and thinking where on the journey those lines were written.
Is there a special place you like to write?
Ocean View House in Polperro, where I hold my writers’ retreats, is a very special place to write. It’s very calm and overlooks the village and the sea. I’ve never failed to be inspired there.
Are your characters ever based on people you know?
Of course – but I’m not saying who! That would get me into a lot of trouble! I tend to 'borrow' character traits and weave them into the protagonists. One ex-boyfriend’s mother recognised herself which was rather scary. And Pinchy the lobster is real!
Who is your favourite author and why?
I adore Jilly Cooper. Not only is she witty and entertaining but she also writes beautifully about nature. I grew up reading her novels and whenever I feel down I pull one off the shelf and curl up with it. She’s also been incredibly kind and supportive of my own writing. My biggest ambition is to meet her one day.
How do you handle rejections?
It’s never nice to be rejected and when your book is your baby of course you take it personally when somebody tells you it’s ugly! But responses to novels are so subjective and what one person hates another will love. Just think how many agents and publishers rejected Harry Potter!
What qualities do you think writers should have?
Writers should be tenacious and dedicated. It’s a hard and often lonely occupation and you have to make big sacrifices. I haven’t had a social life for years because evenings and weekends are the times when I write. I think you also need to be interested in people and enjoy observing the world at large. And of course you need to enjoy writing! At the end of the day, this is a passion as well as a career.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the minute I am working on my third book for Orion, currently titled 'Issie Evans Seeks Rural Bliss', and also a book for Avon which will be out a Christmas. In between that I have 30 GCSE coursework folders and 21 A Level Media projects to grade by Easter. Gulp!
I also teach courses for aspiring writers in lovely Polperro, where I live. I use a stunning Victorian House that overlooks the sea and I enjoy every minute of chatting to and helping my visitors. Two have now got book deals too and I feel very proud. The next course is on May 20th and there are still places! I also blog and update my website too, so readers can catch up with me there.
What advice would you give to an aspiring novelist?
Never give up! The difference between those of us who are published and those who aren’t is just tenacity. If you really, really want to write then just keep going. Remember, it only takes two "Yeses" – one from a publisher and one from an agent – to send you on your way!
Ruth Saberton was talking to Maureen Vincent-Northam, co-author of The Writer's ABC Checklist