I have the pleasure of welcoming Ruth Estevez to Chat About Books today.
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
My name is Ruth Estevez. I was born in Bradford, in West Yorkshire but moved when I was two to a village in the country, where I had a free childhood, playing on local farms, making dens and exploring. At the same time, I went to the Methodist Sunday School, took part in Eisteddfods, which are festivals of song, dance, drama and all things creative. From a young age I learned ballet and fell in love with dancing.
After a degree in Drama and English, I’ve worked first in theatre, then television, followed by associate lecturing in short film making and now at The Portico Library. I live in Manchester and feel completely at home here. I’ve written scripts for drama workshops in remote schools in North Yorkshire for a Theatre-in Education Company, for stop-frame puppet animated Bob the Builder and for one off short films.
Meeting Coty was my first novel, published in 2007 about my great aunt who worked in the perfume industry in the 1920s.
My first YA novel, Jiddy Vardy has just been published. It is set at the end of the 18th century in a remote and secretive smuggling community in North Yorkshire and follows a young girl as she tries to come to terms with where she belongs and who she is while also learning about smuggling. It’s a tale of growing up but also questioning the rules and rule makers.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
I got my idea for Jiddy Vardy from a local book on smuggling in Robin Hood’s Bay. I tend to find ideas in newspaper and magazine articles or even photographs. My novel Erosion came from a photograph in The Yorkshire Post newspaper showing a chalet toppling on the edge of a collapsing cliff.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Me, if anyone!
How do you pick your characters names?
Jiddy Vardy was a real person, so I kept her name. I collect names from graveyards and any I hear and think, oh, I like that! Otherwise, if a name doesn’t come immediately to a character, I don’t worry about it, but know the right name will come as I’m exploring the character and the story.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Make notes – characters – location – map out the plot – start writing – plot changes – edit – edit – edit.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
My top favourite authors change. Right now, they are Daphne Du Maurier, Tracy Chevalier, Simone de Beauvoir (who I need to re-read) Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’m a member of a Writers’ Group with some great authors and I love talking with them. I can ask them anything and I know I will get a considered answer. I don’t think I want to meet any other author I admire because I feel everything I need to know is in the books they have written. Asking questions would spoil the magic.
Were you a big reader as a child?
When did you start to write?
I enjoyed writing at school from a young age though didn’t quite realise what it was about it. After visiting The Bronte Museum in Haworth (we lived nearby) and seeing the small books the children made, I made my own and began writing more. A friend and I wrote some little books called The Adventures of Ruth and Clara while we were at Primary School.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
I wouldn’t presume to do that though there are a few books where I’ve felt let down by the ending.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
No. I’m glad I’ve read them and I can learn from them.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I’d invite Robert Kinkaid from The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. We’d bring a flask of fresh coffee and I’d take him to photograph abbeys and bridges and rivers in Yorkshire. We’d sit by the water, in hot summer and talk. And photograph. And just be. It will be September, and an Indian summer, reflecting the end of our time together. He’s the last of the cowboys, the last roaming individual representing freedom and open spaces and lack of materialism. I’m getting all nostalgic thinking about our time together before it’s begun!
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
I have a scar under my chin from when I had an abscess removed when I was 10.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my next YA Novel called The Monster Belt. It’s set on the island of Formentera and in Yorkshire. One character attracts monsters, the other is desperately seeking one. The Monster Belt is an area between two latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere where the majority of monsters and mythical creatures are found.
Tell us about your last release?
My last release was Erosion. It is set in a remote chalet park on the North Yorkshire Coast. The local council is going to evict the remaining residents but they have nowhere else to go. They have been given a deadline and they are desperate. The question is, what would you do when everything around you is eroding and you have nothing left to lose?
Do you have a new release due?
I’m aiming to finish The Monster Belt by October, then start the edits for a release June 2019. That’s the plan.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
For Jiddy Vardy we had a private launch at The Portico Library in Manchester which was wonderful. It was in the middle of my Book Blog Tour and Becca of Pretty Little Memoirs made a playlist of tunes I sent her from when I was approximately 17, and we played that. There are flowers and bubbles and cards too. And conversations.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
My website: http://www.artgoesglobal.wordpress.com
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
That I think Historical Fiction is important because it gives stories another layer. It can also keep people and their stories alive. After The Monster Belt, I’m writing a ghost story, but after that, I want to write a story based on a small incident that happened to my grandmother. I think these stories that take us into a different world need telling. Recently, Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea reminded me of that.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Ruth 🙂
Jiddy is a survivor. Rescued at birth, she grows up in Robin Hood’s Bay, a village harbouring a dangerous secret. Just as romance blossoms and Jiddy finally feels like she belongs, figures from the past threaten to tear her world apart… A thrilling tale of one girl’s search for identity and love, set against a backdrop of smuggling…..