AllAuthor interview

Where were you born? What childhood memories do you cherish the most? 

I was born in Canterbury, England, and have many happy memories of the times I spent with friends and family in that beautiful, historic cathedral city. We children could wander around narrow streets edged with half-timbered medieval houses, or visit the Westgate Towers with its battlements and instruments of torture, or row a boat down the river that ran through the Westgate Gardens into a dark tunnel under the High Street. But perhaps the memory I cherish most is when I played in our garden at home with my big brother, Paul. He would pretend to be Daddy Bear and walk around on all fours, with me as Baby Bear hanging from his tummy. 

What was your dream job when you were a child? 

I don’t think I ever had a dream job, although I always loved reading, writing and drawing, and longed to travel to other countries. After university I drifted into secondary school teaching, which definitely wasn’t a good choice for me. It took quite a while, and many wrong turns, before I discovered other work that suited me better. 

What developed your interest in studying English? 

English was one of my best subjects at school, along with French and German. My school reports mentioned that my creative writing often had a spark of originality, and encouragement like this increased my confidence. So when I was offered a place to study English Language and Literature at Newcastle University, I jumped at the chance. 

What inspired you to start writing walks leaflets and interpretative materials? 

The opportunity to write walks leaflets came at a difficult time when I’d given up teaching and was unemployed. I attended a jobseekers course, where it was suggested I should contact The North Devon Heritage Coast Service, a local conservation organisation, who were looking for someone to write and illustrate interpretational materials. When they saw some of my work, they asked me to produce a series of leaflets on circular walks in this area. That led to a further contract with the National Trust, who own much of the land along the North Devon coast. I’d always loved country walking, so to combine it with writing was an ideal opportunity for me, particularly since I was also able to use my artistic skills for maps and illustrations. 

How would you describe your experience of teaching ESOL to fascinating adults from all over the world? 

I absolutely loved teaching ESOL, partly because I had some wonderful colleagues, but also because of the students themselves, who came from all over the world and a variety of backgrounds. These included a woman who had escaped from Iran on a false passport, an Argentinian jazz singer, a Spanish industrial diver, staff from Chinese and Indian restaurants, Thai brides, journalists, kebab shop workers and university students. Classes were interactive, with visual aids, dramatic interpretation and collaborative exercises, and since English was the lingua franca in mixed nationality groups, that was in itself a learning experience for students of all levels. You can read more about this on:

How did your life experiences inspire the story of Fragments of a Dream’? 

The story of my novel ‘Fragments of a Dream’ was partly inspired by my own visit to the beautiful island of Hydra as a naive 19-year old. But as with all my writing, I draw on a mixture of experience, imagination, inspiration and research, so the finished result is far from being autobiographical. I have visited the island twice since then, and because it has no roads or motor traffic, it has remained almost unchanged. It is a magical place, with a fascinating history and culture, full of wonderful people, all of which I’ve tried to convey in my novel. 

Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to writing? 

All sorts of people support and encourage me in my writing, and I’m grateful to all of them. First and foremost, friends and family, but also fellow students and tutors on courses like the Arvon Foundation First Chapter residential week, and the Bath Spa MA in Creative Writing, as well as members of the Writers’ Ink Group here on the Costa Blanca. Writing can be a lonely business, especially for the self-published novelist, so the best encouragement of all is when my readers are enthusiastic about what they’ve read. 

Have you ever edited a character or a scene from one of your books? How do you know what stories should stay and what should remain out? 

Yes, I often edit out characters, or scenes, as I revise and rework my novels. At first it’s hard to eliminate something or someone you’ve created and grown fond of, but I find that it helps to put the draft aside for a while and come back to what I’ve written with a fresh mind., and try to see the novel as a whole. 

How did you come up with the character of headstrong young Australian Ellie? 

I wanted to tell the story of ‘Between Two Shores’ from the point of view of a younger member of the family who was removed from the original intrigue, but she had to be determined enough to uncover the truth. I’ve been a frequent visitor to Australia, where our son lives with his Australian wife and four children, so I’ve come to know the country and its people fairly well. I think that watching my gorgeous little granddaughters when they were little and determined to have their own way, gave me ideas for the character of headstrong young Ellie, although I’m pleased to say that they, like Ellie, are growing into delightful young women. 

Do you ever get messages or letters from your fans? What is one of the most encouraging things a fan has ever said to you? 

I’m not very well known yet, so almost all the messages of support that come my way are from people who already know me. It’s always encouraging to hear how much they’ve enjoyed reading what I’ve written, so I’m grateful for all their support. Perhaps one of my favourite comments about ‘Fragments of a Dream’ on Amazon is ‘A joy to read, full of honesty, realism and gentle humour, and of characters with true depth.’ Also, only the other day, someone who’d never read my work before rushed up to me and said, ‘I loved ‘Between Two Shores’ – it’s just brilliant!’ 

Has anyone ever spotted you correcting grammar on shop signs? 

I might comment on incorrect grammar on shop signs, but I don’t make a big fuss about other people’s mistakes — although I see lots of them, especially on Facebook posts. As a teacher, I’m always happy to explain if people want to know what’s correct and why, but I’m also aware that all living languages go through changes over time, often propelled by usage, and that even professional linguists debate whether language change is a question of development or decay. 

What do you often do to hang out with family and friends? 

My favourite leisure activity is hiking, which I used to do a lot of when I lived in North Devon. I’ve walked hundreds if not thousands of miles in beautiful country on Exmoor and along trails like the South West Coast Path, as well as here in Spain on the Camino de Santiago. One of the joys of long-distance walking is meeting all sorts of fascinating people along the way, as well as passing through beautiful scenery and villages, and of course stopping to rest and sample delicious food. With family and other friends who aren’t so active we might meet up for a drink, or drive out to a particularly beautiful old village for a drink or a meal. 

If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you? 

I have absolutely no idea! I can’t imagine that ever happening. They’d probably have to find two or three people to cover different stages of my life! 

What are some of the best experiences you’ve had as an author? 

One of the best experiences I’ve had as an author was attending a week-long Arvon residential course at Moniack Mhor in Scotland, led by the wonderful Alice Jolly and Colette Paul. Taking part were about twenty would-be writers, so with a full programme of seminars, private writing time and open discussions on one another’s work, it was a wonderful experience which set me on the path of approaching the possibility of writing for publication more seriously. 

What are some tools you use for book promotions? How did you come to know about AllAuthor and what are your thoughts on this website? 

Book promotion isn’t my strong point, which is why I’m so grateful for AllAuthor and the many services that it offers the writer. My memory’s a bit vague, but I think I first heard about AllAuthor from a friend who writes, or possibly a post on Facebook. I’ve been very impressed by the help you offer in promoting my work, and would certainly recommend other writers to become a member. 

Book promotion isn’t my strong point, which is why I’m so grateful for AllAuthor and the many services that it offers the writer. My memory’s a bit vague, but I think I first heard about AllAuthor from a friend who writes, or possibly a post on Facebook. I’ve been very impressed by the help you offer in promoting my work, and would certainly recommend other writers to become a member.

5 thoughts on “AllAuthor interview

  1. This is a great interview, Ruth. I also taught ESL and absolutely loved it. The students were amazing and I think I learnt as much from them as they did from me. I agree, AllAuthor is a wonderful resource for writers.

    1. Thank you, Darlene. Yes, I agree, we learn so much from the students, too, not only about their own languages and experiences, but also, in our attempt to explain English usage, we become more aware of its complexity and variety.

  2. How nice to see worthy author Ruth Larrea being interviewed and her books and life discussed. I have the pleasure of knowing her through Writers’ Ink, and so enjoyed reading her first book ‘Fragments of a Dream.’ It was so atmospheric – brought alive by Ruth’s vivid imagery and talent with words. Her current book ‘ Between two Shores,’ which I am at present reading, has me fully engaged and doesn’t disappoint on quality of writing. Her characters are well- rounded and her prose top drawer. I too readily recommend both books for an enjoyable reading journey Thank you!

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