Writer’s Block with Ruth Frances Long


In the latest in our WEEKLY BOOK SERIES, award-winning young adult author RUTH FRANCES LONG tells SOPHIE GRENHAM about creating the first ever URBAN FANTASY TRILOGY based in Dublin and why she finds tranquility in BRAY, CO WICKLOW


Ruth Frances Long was bitten by the Young Adult (YA) fiction bug when she wrote The Treachery Of Beautiful Things, first published in 2012. After having penned this delicious treat of a dark fairytale in which trees swallow people whole, her reputation quickly gathered momentum.

Not long afterwards, having spied a gap in the market, Ruth established the only urban fantasy trilogy to take place in contemporary Dublin. The first instalment was A Crack In Everything (2014) and Hollow In The Hills followed in September of this year. Here we see Ruth seamlessly bring to life the fairies, demons and angels that walk the streets of mythical Dubh Linn.

This year, A Crack In Everything won Ruth the prestigious Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Creator of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy. The award was presented by the European Science Fiction Society in St Petersburg, Russia.

Ruth Frances Long lives with her husband and their son and daughter in Bray, Co Wicklow. She is currently completing the final book in her trilogy.

On seaside delights

Our favourite haunts include El Greco restaurant and Campo di Fiori for the amazing coffee. And of course, the wonderful Dubray bookshop.

Bray has so much happening all the time. It is a lively town but also it is right on the edge of the countryside. Our house backs on to woodland, which is magical. And we have the seafront promenade, which is just the most wonderful refreshing walk… With the promise of Teddy’s ice cream waiting at the other end.

On creature comforts

When I’m at home I generally sit in the living room. I’m used to a lot of noise in the house so I find it odd to work in silence (not to mention suspicious—I have children). The room is very cosy, with lots of bookshelves (overflowing with books, of course). We have many family photos and some beautiful artwork. My favourite is a piece of Spanish blackwork embroidery by my mother that hangs over the fireplace.

There’s a second sofa which usually has our dog, a brindle lurcher, stretched out on it. The cat sometimes deigns to join me, but usually only to sit on my notebook while I’m trying to type things up.

On staying focused

I don’t think I get a lot of choice in the matter sometimes. My characters are very real in my head and very demanding. Once they get a head of steam, when the writing is going well, it’s more a case of keeping up with them as they careen towards the end. They seem to have minds of their own.

On the books of her life

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett, The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, The Owl Service by Alan Garner, Ash by Mary Gentle, King of Morning, Queen of Day by Ian McDonald and On Writing by Stephen King. All of them changed the way I look at writing and formed the way I write.

On why YA fiction transcends age

Unlike a detective or a spy, we have all been young adults at one point, so we can all identify with the characters in these books. There is a sense of individual power and responsibility permeating most young adult novels that I think has a very broad appeal. They ask very big questions, questions that are a fundamental part of growing up and allow readers to experience other lives, options, and, indeed, dangers in a safe environment. It makes for an excellent read for absolutely everyone.

A Crack In Everything and A Hollow In The Hills (both €9.99) are published by The O’Brien Press. The Treachery Of Beautiful Things (€13.00) is published by Penguin Putnam Inc. All titles are available in bookshops nationwide.

Image by Eoin Rafferty, taken in the Martello, Bray

Sophie Grenham

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