A Quickie With

A Quickie with Ruth Dugdall

“Ruth Dugdall holds a BA honours degree in English Literature (Warwick University) and an MA in Social Work (University of East Anglia). She qualified as a probation officer in 1996 and has worked in prison with offenders guilty of serious crimes, including stalking, rape and murder.”

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

My latest book is My Sister & Other Liars. Anorexia is very topical right now – and not before time. I think there is a willingness to explore the issue that wasn’t there before, so it’s being covered on radio and in the papers. I hope this seeps into novels, as given that it’s such a prolific mental illness, and the one with the highest fatality rate, it really shouldn’t be ignored.

MSAOL is a crime novel, so it isn’t just about anorexia, but about the secrets and lies within families.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

My life story would be called, “It’s not about the bananas!” which is my favourite catchphrase, I said it one afternoon in Luxembourg when I was angry with Andrew for buying too many bananas. Later, I said, “It’s not about the bananas”, I realised I was really worried about moving back to the UK and other `stuff`. So now, when I see people get upset or angry about trivial things I say, “yes, but it’s not really about the bananas, is it?” I think it’s the best lesson I’ve ever taught my kids.

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

The strangest request was from a shy, polite young man who I met at a book talk. We began corresponding over e-mail and then he asked if I’d like to co-write an erotic novel with him. I don’t quite know why he thought I’d be qualified…Needless to say, you won’t be seeing Fifty Shades of Banana any time soon.

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

I’d love to co-write with Chuck Palahniuk, who writes about pornography, sex addicts, fight clubs…and has adopted what he calls `method writing`, something I do too. I think we’d have great fun together, and I’d be happy to follow where he lead…Chuck, if you’re reading this, call me!

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

Here’s my secret: I have the crappiest car on the planet, I never locks it and it has cobwebs on the inside. It’s a P reg Volkswagen Polo and simply refuses to die. We Buy Any Car offered me £150 for it, but it hurts too much to say goodbye.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

I’m a bit late to the party, but I read Louise Doughty’s Apple Tree Yard last week, and it really sucked me in. I love all that distorted thinking, differing views of the same situation.

I was also delighted to receive a proof of Louise Beech’s Maria in the Moon. I’m a big fan of hers, and this is her best book yet. I love her dry Northern humour, combined with the subjects she tackles it makes all of her books bittersweet.

This weekend I saw the Ed Gold photography exhibition in Colchester, so I’m reading the accompanying book. Ed lives with the people he photographs and becomes immersed in their lives, which are often strange. I especially liked his writings about a family living in the remote Arctic, and how they couldn’t stop talking because they were so excited to have a visitor, how they wouldn’t feed him because they thought he was fat. I admire anyone willing to put themselves through the grinder for their art.

Who is Ruth Dugdall? Ruth Dugdall was born in 1971. She holds a BA honours degree in English Literature (Warwick University) and an MA in Social Work (University of East Anglia). She qualified as a probation officer in 1996 and has worked in prison with offenders guilty of serious crimes, including stalking, rape and murder. This has informed her crime writing. Since she started writing, Ruth has won awards in several writing competitions, and has had short stories published in the Winchester Writers’ Conference and the Eva Wiggins Award anthologies.

Ruth is also the news presenter on Felixstowe tv: “probably the smallest tv station in the world”.

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