Sunday, 1 March 2015

Women in Horror: RUTH BARRETT

BASE SPIRITS has stuck with me long after I read the book, which is odd, because of my disability. I read it nearly three years ago and still taste the rich flavour of the book and see the descriptive scenes in my head.

Ruth, is what I call a transformative writer. She transforms the reader into the pages of the book whether it is set in the 1600's or today. She makes you feel the time era she is writing and makes you walk the halls along with the protagonist in a way I have seen a couple of times before.

When did you start writing horror? 

1.  I’ve always had a morbid side, I suppose. I loved ghost stories as a kid, and was drawn to the macabre in my teens. I started reading Stephen King and John Saul when I was about 12. I’ve written stories since I was in grade school, and I‘ve always tended to like plots with a body count. 

2.   Have you written in any other genre? A little of everything, I guess. Dark humour. Literary fiction. Mysteries. The odd (very odd!) foray into angst-ridden poetry when I was a Goth teenager. I like mixing up genres: my novel Base Spirits is a ghost story with a historical core.

3.  What makes you uncomfortable? Big corporations and ultra-right-wing Conservatism. Especially when mixed together. That really is a horror story.

4.  Does your family read your work? Many of them have, but not everyone “gets it”. My Mom is my biggest fan. She taught me to read and love books growing up, so I dedicate everything I write to her.

5.  Does your writing make you uneasy? Only when I can’t get it right. But yes, it can disturb me when I am dealing with cruelty and violence. Then again, those things should be disturbing.

6.  Who would you say you write like? I have a lot of influences, so it’s hard to say. I’d like to think there’s a healthy dose of King in my dark stuff. A fan on Amazon drew parallels with Barbara Erskine in the historical sections of my work, which is intriguing and flattering. I hope that I have my own voice by now.

7.  Who are your favourite authors? Too many to name, but I wish I could write half so well as Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Timothy Findley or Hilary Mantel.

8.  Who influences you as a writer? I think I’ve already answered that! But further influences are the true British classics, like Dickens and Shakespeare. I have a theatre background, and there’s no escaping the brilliant characterizations of the Bard.

9. Do you remember what your first horror book was that you read? The first would be collections of ghost stories for kids, but the first actual horror novel I read was Carrie.

10.  How old were you? About 12.

11.  Is there any subject you will not touch as an author? Truly over-the-top gratuitous blood and guts involving children.

12.  What was the best advice you were given as a writer? Write the first draft front to back without stopping and second-guessing yourself. If you give into temptation and go back and re-write and fiddle, you’ll get mired down and never finish. A first draft is a discovery draft. It will be full of crap and tangents, but that’s fine: follow the side-roads and see where they take you. The only rule for a first draft is “get it done”.

13.  If you had to start all over again, what would you do different? Figure out my marketing plan before putting my book out: like building up a social media following ahead of time to get a buzz going. I’d also have a second book ready in the wings. Woo a rich patron-of-the-arts to support me while I write!

14.  How many books do you read a year? Hard to say. I usually have two or three books going at any given time.

15.  Do you write every day? Yes, but sadly, it’s not always fiction. My “day-job” writing in communications can push my own writing to one side for weeks or even months at a time. But I constantly keep notebooks full of ideas, character sketches and scribbles for stories. 2014 was the Year From Hell for me with a lot of family tragedies and personal trauma, so that sapped a lot of my creative energy. I’m finally getting back on track now: working on some short stories, novellas and a darkly funny mystery series.

Amazon: (Paperback and e-book)

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