Today I welcome fellow Legend Press author and crime writer, Ruth Dugdall, to the blog to talk to us about her latest book, Humber Boy B. Alex Marwood described this novel as, ‘An absolute tour de force that left me thinking for days.’ Needless to say, I can’t wait to read it! Over to you, Ruth:
Can you describe your new novel in one succinct but sensual sentence?
When he was a child he killed another boy, now he’s a man can he live a normal life?
Who is your favourite character and why?
Cheryl, who is a school friend of Humber Boy B, and spends the morning of the murder with both him and his victim. Although she is not on the Humber Bridge when Noah is killed her influence is subtle and pervasive, and when she re-appears later in the novel she is still an ambiguous character. This is why she interests me, because I feel differently about her at different moments.
Which authors have been your main inspirations?
I’ve been greatly influenced by the authors I studied when I was an undergraduate. The Greek tragedies taught me more about murder, jealousy, rage, than any of the psychological studies I read about when I was training to be a probation officer.
When I was a child my favourite books were The Bible and Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales, which are broadly similar in theme and execution, and both came with graphic illustrations. My favourite was in the bible, with John the Baptist’s head on a silver platter. If you want to study dysfunctional families both of these texts have it all: infanticide, incest, sibling rivalry.
Whether it was `chicken or egg` I couldn’t say, but I’ve always preferred darker writing. It still surprises me when readers want a redemptive ending, or when they talk about needing to `like` a character. I don’t worry about these things because of the books I was weaned on.
How does your writing process work; confusion and paper flying everywhere or calm and ordered?
I am a control freak, so I have a system of lists and self-imposed deadlines. I am extremely self-motivated, so if I set myself a goal I will put everything else aside until I achieve it. I wouldn’t call this calm and ordered, though, more single-minded.
I think a key thing in getting a novel finished is being able to place a value on that target, and not feeling guilty about giving up other things (cleaning the house, buying food, volunteering at the school…) Which makes it sound like that is easy, and it isn’t. I know many talented writers who don’t `have enough time`, and I think women especially feel guilty about locking themselves away from their family for hours to write. I’m very lucky, because I have a lot of support, and without that I would have stopped writing years ago.
What is your guilty pleasure when writing? (Chocolate, wine, coffee…)
Coffee. I’m on my fourth cup already and Lorraine is still on the telly!
Please share your blurb with us.
A blur in the sky, a brick – no, a trainer, red – falls to the water… There seems to be a scuffle… a hand grabbing at the dangling child. Then, with the awfulness of inevitability, the hanging child drops, gravity takes him.
Despite fleeing the scene on the Humber Bridge, two young brothers are found guilty and sent to prison. Upon their release they are granted one privilege only, their anonymity.
Probation officer Cate Austin is responsible for Humber Boy B’s reintegration into society. But public anger is growing, and those around her are wondering if the secret of his identity is one he deserves to keep.
Ruth Dugdall is an internationally published crime novelist, whose works to date have all been set in Suffolk, where she has lived most of her life. Her bestselling novel The Woman Before Me looks at obsessive love and the dangers of female friendships.
Ruth’s latest novel, Humber Boy B, is about a young man attempting to establish a new identity in Ipswich, despite being guilty of murdering another boy when he was just ten years old.
Inspired by her earlier career in probation, Ruth’s writing explores the psychology of deviance. Now living in Luxembourg, she will soon commence work in the local prison, where she hopes to find new inspiration.
Visit Ruth’s website here. You can buy Humber Boy B here.