Ruth Estevez Interview
The Indie Book Butler Interview.
Indie Book Butler: Let’s start things off with an introduction. Tell us a little about yourself for those not already aware of you and your work.
Ruth Estevez: I’m Ruth Estevez, I grew up in a Yorkshire village and now live in the city of Manchester. I write fiction, upper YA and adult, and am lucky enough to be published with three different Northern Indie presses, ZunTold, Beaten Track and in September, UCLan Publishing. I also work for Manchester’s fabulous Portico Library as the Project Coordinator for The Portico Sadie Massey Awards for Young Readers and Writers.
IBB: You’ve got twenty words to tempt us to read your book(s). What would you say?
RE: Jiddy Vardy: Wild seas, smuggling, violent death, friendship, love, a great kiss.
Erosion: Wild seas, crumbling cliffs, chalet park owners taking back control.
IBB: Where do you like to write?
RE: Sitting at the dining room table, downstairs in the house, writing longhand. But, I very often end up, upstairs, sitting at my computer in my pink study, where the walls are covered in paintings and my thesaurus is to hand.
IBB: Is there anything you must have in order to write?
RE: Quiet and no-one else in the house. If anyone else is in the house or it’s noisy, I edit or research.
IBB: What books have influenced you most, both as a person and as an author?
RE: As a person – I read all of Simone de Beauvoir’s books in my late teens, early twenties and I think I was quite pretentious for a while, reading other French novelists and keen to live in Paris. Going to reread The Blood of Others, about the French Resistance, for starters. Also, Cuban novelist, Alejo Carpentier’s The Lost Steps. The reason being, for one incident that happens well into the book. Mainly it’s saying, you can never go back, so be careful what you give up. But written in a much better way! I like books that open up different worlds and ways of thinking.
As a writer – Wuthering Heights because it’s set where I grew up, in Yorkshire, so I feel an affinity to the setting. I grew up visiting Haworth, Emily Bronte’s home and the children’s little books in the Parsonage Museum inspired me to make my own and want to be a writer. I frequently re-read WH as every time, I see something different and appreciate different characters. I would love to write such an enduring novel. I’ll just sneak in, Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black because it is a great ghost story, brilliant descriptions of place and I’m striving to write my own ghost story. Love books with unique magical phrases, so try and create my own version of those!
IBB: What is the one thing that has helped you develop most as an author?
IBB: What do you want to achieve most from your writing?
RE: Haha! A following! I’ll settle for characters that stay beyond the last page, places that people can see and feel, and a story that people want to read.
IBB: Have you received a favourite review of your work?
RE: I couldn’t say a whole review – but here are three snippets from different reviews of Jiddy Vardy –
Everything, including our cast of characters, has a layer of complexity.
It’s poetic, intense and immensely visual.
Exciting, sometimes lyrical and with a fab, strong female lead.
Actually, for Erosion this is probably my favourite review – Ruth Estevez is a brilliant writer. I loved her novel for young adults, Jiddy Vardy, and I was totally engrossed by this story, too – and so intrigued about where it was going. There were moments that took my breath away – quite literally – as the characters’ met their various fates. As ever Ruth writes about the landscape and the power of the sea with great force and detail, and she creates characters who seem completely real.
IBB: Were there any particular parts of the writing/publishing process that you struggled with?
RE: Writing-wise, I struggle with plot. Publishing wise, waiting for a response. I’m not patient! And the difficulty of getting reviews!
IBB: Is there something specific you do to improve your writing?
RE: I am beginning to recognise my faults, so I check for repetition, a character going over and over something, though as my main characters are often in their late teens, and this is what we often do at that age, I try to balance this. And I read my work aloud to see what words and sentences trip me up. On a practical level, a new keyboard because the letters are all worn away.
IBB: What is the ideal relationship between editor and author?
RE: When the editor ‘gets’ the writer’s work and the writer trusts the editor and they communicate well and frequently!
IBB: If you had a direct line to someone who loves or hates your writing, what would you say?
RE: Haha. Eek to both in a way! Thank you, is a good start. I probably wouldn’t stop smiling at someone who said they loved my work. Knowing me, I’d probably cry too.
If I had a direct line to someone who hates my writing, I’d probably be silent and remind myself that you can’t please everyone. I’m not there to persuade, my book does the talking and if someone doesn’t like it, there’s not a lot I can do. Maybe I’d ask them ‘What are you reading?’ Or ‘Okay.’ But I’d most likely not say anything.
IBB: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
RE: Keep writing.
IBB: What does your writing future hold for you?
RE: Lots of editing this year, as hopefully republishing a novel, Meeting Coty, that is out of print as the publisher died several years ago, striving to improve, and hopefully crack on with the ghost story, though I will have to be very disciplined to fit that in as I’ve just taken on more responsibilities at work. The Monster Belt is due out in September as well, so there will probably be lots of publicity to do. Busy!
IBB: How have you set about the task of creating enticing cover art?
RE: Get someone else to do it after throwing in my two-pennyworth!
IBB: How often do you read? What genre?
RE: I try to always have a book on the go, and I only read one at a time. I can’t multi-task with reading! When I’m really in the middle of writing, I may only read factual books to expand my knowledge and get ideas. I like fiction best though, character-driven novels. I find it easier to say what I don’t read! I don’t read crime or Sci-Fi.
IBB: Before we let you escape, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
RE: Bob Stone. His YA Beat Trilogy is surprising, shocking and heart-warming. A great premise and you grow to love the characters. He doesn’t pull punches, so you feel this is really honest writing. I wish there was a way for indie-writers to be more widely read and small publishers to be more widely showcased as they bring out real hidden gems that shouldn’t be hidden. Also Anna Vaught’s Saving Lucia, beautiful phrases in there.
And I’ve been reading a run of Barbara Kingsolver novels. I’ve learned a lot writing-wise from these.
Thank you for the opportunity to be part of The Indie Book Butler Interviews. I’m enjoying reading what other authors have to say. Some tough questions that made me dig deep! Wishing you, and all fellow writers and publishers well too.
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck in the future.
For more on Ruth and her work, please visit: