Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
First of all, I’d like to apologise to both Ruth Loten and Rachel’s Random Resources for not posting this when I should have – unfortunately, I’ve been ill and my actions didn’t reflect the title as I forgot to do so much, including sharing this brilliant interview and giveaway with you all. There’s still time to enter the giveaway, please do and I hope one of you wins! Read on to read the interview for yourself and to find out more about both the book and its author – as well as enter the giveaway!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book?
It came in two very separate blocks, much like the book itself. Half of ‘Unforgettable’ tells the story of Tom and Grace and their initial meeting was where the whole thing started. Near where I live are the Beth Chatto Gardens and the first time I visited, I had a sudden image of someone walking into the gardens, seeing someone on a bench and falling instantly in love. It stayed in my ‘ideas’ book for about 12 months as it never progressed beyond the initial idea. Then when I started my MA in Creative Writing I went back to it and started to think about ‘what ifs’. I settled on, ‘What if one of them was already married?’. That gave me the impetus for Grace and Tom’s story, but again, once I’d written the first part of it, I wasn’t sure what was actually going to keep them together. The rest of their story came to me in Blackpool Tower Ballroom. I’ve been dancing there all my life and it suddenly occurred to me that although I’d written odd scenes there, I’d never used it as a major location. That afternoon, I planned out pretty much the rest of that half of the book.
Tom and Olivia’s story came about very differently. Having decided that Tom would be the married party, I set about creating his marriage. I ended up using an awful lot of my early relationship with my husband (like Tom and Olivia, we met in Thomas Hall at Exeter University in 1997) but obviously exaggerated, twisted, merged and transformed real events and people into my fictional characters.
What is your writing process?
To be perfectly honest, it depends. When I first started writing I was a complete pantser. I had a vague idea of where the plot was going, but pretty much made it up as I went along. When I did NaNoWriMo 2020 however, I had the entire plot perfectly planned and consequently wrote the first draft in six weeks. However, usually, I’m a combination of a plotter and a pantser. I tend to start with a general idea of where the plot is going. By halfway I usually have a good grip on my characters (by then, they’ve usually told me I’ve written them all wrong and I’ve made the changes they suggest) and this is the point at which I plot in more detail. This has a practical purpose – I know roughly how long each scene is working out at and once I’ve plotted the rest of the novel, I have a reasonable idea whether I’ve planned enough to reach my target word count or not. If I haven’t, I know I may need to add in extra scenes, so as I write the second half, I’m thinking about where there are opportunities to include extra bits.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I always used to write in a pretty notebook with a fountain pen and then type it up because I find it incredibly difficult to think creatively with a blank screen in front of me. Somehow that’s far scarier than a blank page. However, this is incredibly time consuming and these days, I just don’t have the time. I’ve had to train myself to write directly onto the laptop – it’s not always easy, but the more you do it, the easier it gets! ‘Unforgettable’ was actually the last thing I wrote with pen and paper. Now, the pretty notebooks and the fountain pen are used for planning and note-taking only.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
I’ll be in trouble if I don’t say the right answer to this! Tom, Olivia and Grace from ‘Unforgettable’ all have elements of both me and my husband in them, so there’s obviously lots of things I like about them. However, the children’s book I’m currently working on – ‘The Reign Of The Winter King’ – has characters based on my children, so I kind of have to say that they are my joint favourite characters!
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
Probably Grace because although she has a difficult past, she knows what she wants in the future. However, the main draw to her is probably that she is far better at ballroom dancing than I am. I’ve danced all my life, but never done competitions and I’d love to be better at it.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
I quite often look at the meaning of names, for example, Grace got her name because of the meaning of the word ‘grace’. With Olivia, it had to be a name that could be abbreviated, so that Tom could call her something different. This idea came from the fact that my sister always called her husband by his full name, whilst everyone else knew him by the short form of it. I remembered asking why, wondering if he would prefer me to use it and they explained that by calling him something that was unique to her, it made it feel more special because she was the only one who used the full form of his name.
However, quite often, I give the characters a ‘holding name’ until I get to know them a bit better and that’s usually when they decide what they’re called. To anyone who doesn’t write, it sounds crazy when you tell them that your characters let you know what they’re called, how they would react in any given situation etc, but that genuinely is how it feels.
Thank you so much for your answers, Ruth! I really liked reading about how your writing process is evolving and developing, as well as your inspirations.
Tom Blythe falls in love quickly. He fell for Olivia the first time they met. The same thing happens when he meets Grace. The problem is: Tom is still in love with Olivia.
Pulled in two different directions, Tom has a choice to make. He knows he’s unhappy, but is that enough for him to forget the vows he made? Both women have difficult pasts and Tom is desperate to help them, but at what cost?
Can he let Olivia go and commit his future to Grace? Or will the pull of the past prove too strong?
A former teacher, Ruth’s first writing memory is for her writer’s badge in Brownies but her MA in Creative Writing probably trumps that. One of the founders and editors of the digital literary and visual arts magazine, Makarelle, she has been published in various anthologies and is usually found in her study, mainlining coffee and frantically pinning editorial notes onto a noticeboard. In November 2019, Ruth was appointed Writer In Residence at Brightlingsea Lido. Although she has written a number of books for children and teenagers, this is Ruth’s debut novel for adults.
Giveaway to Win a signed paperback copy or a kindle version of Unforgettable (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the link to the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.