Interview

A Crack In Everything by Ruth Frances Long

A Crack In Everything by Ruth Frances Long

Welcome to The Other Side …

Chasing a thief, Izzy Gregory takes a wrong turn down a Dublin alley and finds the ashes of a fallen angel splashed across the dirty bricks like graffiti. She stumbles into Dubh Linn, the shadowy world inhabited by the Sidhe, where angels and demons watch over the affairs of mortals, and Izzy becomes a pawn in their deadly game. Her only chance of survival lies in the hands of Jinx, the Sidhe warrior sent to capture her for his sadistic mistress, Holly. Izzy is something altogether new to him, turning his world upside down.

A thrilling, thought-provoking journey to the magic that lies just beside reality.

A Crack in Everything, is the first in a trilogy set in the world of demons, angels and fairies that exists in modern day Dublin.

I was a very lucky girl last week and headed into the launch of Ruth Frances Long’s newest release “A Crack In Everything”. It was being held in the Gutter Bookshop in Temple Bar. An amazing independent book shop in the heart of Dublin. Not many of them left so there isn’t.

I had a great chat with the Girls from O’Brien’s Press and I had the pleasure of briefly meeting the Lovely Ruth. We ate yummy Cupcakes and and had the pleasure of hearing Ruth read from the first chapter of “A Crack in Everything” I got my copy of the book signed and yes I asked the lovely Ruth for a Picture. I had a lovely evening and would recommend picking up a copy of her book. You can reserve a copy here. Ruth also kindly agreed to an interview where I asked some hard questions and she being the lovely lady she is didn’t blink an eye in answering them all.

What inspired you to write this story “A Crack in Everything”?

The quick answer – I was walking down South William Street and saw a piece of street art – the graffiti angel, as I came to call it. It was a real thing, on a doorway leading to a lane about halfway down. It was absolutely beautiful and I took pictures of it. The story sort of started from there. The more complicated answer – I wanted to write urban fantasy set in Dublin. There didn’t seem to be a lot (or indeed any for teens) at the time. I find fantasy with a keen sense of place to be so effective and Dublin is full of these amazing stories. I’m also a fan of folklore—the local stories and fairytales rather than the grand mythological sagas (although they’re brilliant too)—and I wanted to write about how they translated into our modern urban legends. The combination of the two led to “A Crack in Everything” and the idea of fantasy that was only a turn of the corner away.

Was it difficult to get into the heads of the young characters?

I continually tell people that I’m sixteen in my head. On the outside I masquerade as a (sometimes) responsible adult but really there’s this teenager inside who isn’t quite sure how all this growing up, getting a job, having a bank account stuff applies to me. Or indeed how it happened.

That said, I don’t think there’s a big difference between writing young and older characters. They’re all individuals, with their own drives and insecurities. Some have more actual experience than others but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are older or younger. The lovely thing about writing fantasy is that the sense of wonder is ageless.

Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

I tend to get random, really exciting ideas from all sorts of sources, which mix together, some of them getting bigger and some fading away. I call them plot bunnies. They leap around the place and make scenes in my head. When I finally start writing I usually have a series of scenes which are not necessarily in the right order. My job is to link them together in a hopefully coherent way. Sometimes I write out of order and sometimes in order – it’s different with each book. There is usually a point where I’m convinced I don’t actually know how to write at all and everything up to now was a complete and utter fluke. Then I get back to writing and try to push right through to a full draft. Then the fun, and frankly much more enjoyable process of rewriting and editing happens. I like to work with noise (usually not a problem in my house) but sometimes, when really focusing hard on something I don’t hear anything at all anyway. In theory silence would be better but then my mind tends to wander. I keep a notebook with me at all times in case I need to write something down or I have some time to spare to doodle through ideas. That’s about it. It’s not really a process. Not in any formal sense. I am a chaotic writer.

Do you listen to music when writing and if so what’s on your mp3 right now?

Not so much while I’m writing as I might end up singing along and not actually writing, but music definitely inspires what I write. At the moment lots of Florence and the Machine, Within Temptation, Linkin Park, Camille O’Sullivan, Leonard Cohen, Kate Bush, and lots of movie soundtracks – How to tame your Dragon 1 & 2 are favourites right now. I tend to make playlists for my books and they’re a mixture of anything and everything.

I’ve recently ran into some writers who don’t “believe” in writers block—insisting that it’s procrastination or something else. What’s your take?

I think for some people it’s very real indeed and absolutely crippling. I’m lucky never to have encountered full on writer’s block, but I have had instances where I couldn’t write something for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s pressure, or stress, or the subject matter. It can happen for any number of reasons. If I’m really stuck I switch projects for a bit, edit instead of write, or if I don’t have the luxury of time I try to go back through the manuscript looking for the place where I feel I’ve gone wrong and seeing what I can do to fix it. Sometimes you realise there isn’t anything wrong at all, sometimes you’re cutting 80% of the thing. I think you have to be kind to yourself as a writer, you have to be patient but there does come a time where you have to be tough as well. If there isn’t an external reason why you can’t write, look at the words and get something down, anything. Fix it later.

As a librarian and author, you must read a lot. What types of young adult books do you enjoy most and why?

I used to read a lot more – I always run out of time nowadays. I adore young adult books. I love the way that anything can happen in YA. The genre strictures that you find elsewhere don’t apply as YA isn’t a genre. It is almost as if all the books on the YA shelves intermingle and create new cross-genre books. I’m a huge fan of fantasy of course, and always will be, but I find in YA I end up reading books I’d never look at elsewhere. I’ve recently been reading a number of contemporaries and was really surprised by how much I enjoyed them. I also tend to loath first person books, but it’s really common in YA books. I think it all comes down to the voice. If the voice truly hooks me I’ll follow that character and their story anywhere.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

Terry Pratchett – he’s consistently funny (which is really hard) but always makes me think

Neil Gaiman – beautiful, elegent stories with a new twist of strange in every one. He writes such varied tales, always something new.

Stephanie Burgis – I absolutely adore her Kat Incorrigible books. Vibrant characters, wonderful worldbuilding, magic in the regency period. Just lovely.

Sherylynn Kenyon – I’m not sure what it is about the Chronicles of Nick I find so addictive, but I cannot put them down and have made an absolute fool of myself with friends I wanted to impress in a bookshop when I found out the next one was available. Characters and worldbuilding. Mainly characters. And of them mainly Simi. I like her adult books too, but the Nick ones just swallowed me up whole. The voice is fabulous.

Susan Cooper – The Dark is Rising sequence is one of those stories I just go back to time and again. I also loved Ghosthawk, which I didn’t expect would be my kind of thing, but the writing was so vivid and enthralling I couldn’t put it down.

Alan Garner – to quote the author the Weald was where he learned “the rockness of rock and the treeness of tree”. I learned it from him. The melding of place and fantasy, the sense of ancient landscape in today’s world, the sheer strange beauty of our history and how it is found all around us, interacts with us and shapes us. He’s a sublime writer. I adore his books forever.There are many others but I’ll stop there for now. Otherwise I’d go on and on.

For you, what is the hardest part of being a writer? What do you love about it?

You have to be really dedicated and determined. You have to sit down and do the work of writing a book. And that is hard, because I’m very easily distracted, especially when I’m meant to be doing something. It’s hard sometimes to stay positive about writing and publishing, especially when you see online posts full of doom and gloom. It’s hard to keep going when you’re convinced the book you’re writing is never going to work. BUT there are moments when the story just seems to take off by itself. When the characters turn around to you and go “we know you wanted us to do this, but that looks so much more interesting so we’re off to do that instead. ‘k thanks bye.” Or when you read back through something you wrote and go “actually, that’s kind of wonderful.” Especially when you don’t remember writing it. I’m not kidding. It’s also hard to talk about being a writer without sounding slightly insane. Sorry!

Is young adult fiction becoming too dark?

No one asks if Adult fiction is becoming too dark. But the word Adult is in that sentence as well. Young adult fiction addresses a time of learning and experimentation, a time to find out who you are and where you want to be in the world. I think it’s much better to be doing that exploration within the pages of a book before taking it into the real world. A book can be put down, a book gives you time to pause and think, to consider the options presented and maybe find a few more. Plunging into the world unprepared, you don’t often get chances like that. Also bear in mind that most people reading young adult books are also reading adults books. It’s a grey area between the two. There are some things I would find difficult to deal with in a young adult book, but not many. And they would tend to be things I’d find difficult in an “adult” book too.

How is different for you to work on a novel now than it was at the beginning of your career? What have you learned over time and trial? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

Every novel is different. Every experience of writing a novel is different. I will say there is always a point when I look back at previous ones and go “how did I do that?” And always a point where I look at what I’m writing now and go “this is the worst thing ever written.” So I expect those moments now and push on through them. There are little stylistic things I’ve learned that I wouldn’t use now. But mostly because each time is different it can feel like starting all over again. Nerve-wracking. I’m not sure if I would have done things differently, because the way I did it brought me here. And I’m pretty happy with here.

What is your best advice for hopeful YA writers in Ireland?

Keep writing, keep at it. Finish that first draft and then go back and edit because otherwise you keep on going over and over the same bits and never reach the end. They may be shiny and brilliant, but if there isn’t a whole story there, they won’t do much more than sit there being pretty. Write honestly and write the story you want to read. Then make it as beautiful as you possibly can.

 

 

 

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