Today’s spotlight is searching for Ruth Coulson. She is also known as Rebecca Bryn by her hoards of adoring fans. She is probably out with her dog, searching her acreage for some ba-a-a-a-ad sheep. Just a minute…Ruth, come back inside and say hello!…Without further ado (yes! I can hear her feet running up the steps!) here’s…Ruth!
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live on a small holding in West Wales with my husband, dog and a flock of sheep. I love writing thrillers with a twist, stories that make me think or make me dig deeper into the human condition. I also paint the stunning coastal scenery around me.
How did you get started on your writing journey?
I began by encouraging a friend to write during her recuperation from an accident. I’d always thought she had talent. I began proof-reading for her, exchanging chapters by snail-mail and then by e-mail and, one day, just for fun, I typed Chapter One and was hooked. Where Hope Dares was born, though it would be more than ten years learning my craft, and many rewrites, before I published it.
Are there any poets or writers who influence you? How so?
Robert Frost for his descriptions of nature: Christina Rosetti for the feeling in her words: Douglas Adams for his humour. Thomas Hardy for his melancholy. Many more. I suppose I like the way they bring something from deep inside them and lay it bare. It takes courage to do that.
Let’s talk about your novel! What is it about?
Where Hope Dares is a tale of two isolated pockets of humanity with conflicting ethics and beliefs. When they inevitably clash, and Kiya, a village healer, is kidnapped to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Raphel, her storyteller husband, sets out on a thousand-mile journey to bring her home. With only hope and a headful of stories to aid him, he faces a pagan, warmongering regime across the High Atlas Mountains and in doing so uncovers an uncomfortable truth. Abe, his friend, to whom he looks for help has his own secret agenda decreed by a long-dead pope: the signs signify the imminence of The Second Coming of Christ. In order to save mankind’s immortal souls, Abe must sacrifice Kiya and Raphel. Hard choices must be made.
How is the title significant?
In many ways this is a chilling tale, but love, faith and hope are at its heart. The future is in our hands, and hope is probably the strongest and most enduring human emotion after love. It’s what drive us, and I believe mankind will go where hope dares.
Where did inspiration for this book come from?
Where Hope Dares was inspired by a report about climate change I read maybe twenty years ago. It got me wondering what life would be like in the future, how the human condition might change, what beliefs might be prevalent and how our present actions might influence our descendants’ futures.
Tell us a little bit about the characters? What are they like and how did you come up with them?
The characters have evolved over several years. Abe is probably based on my maternal grandfather. He, Abe not my grandfather, masquerades as a peddler, but is really a Brother of the Keepers of Knowledge. He has strength, courage and a conscience that sometimes sits uneasily with his life’s work. Kiya has unwavering faith, both in her goddess, her people and Raphel. As a healer she sees goodness and hope everywhere. Raphel is a gentle, sensitive man. He isn’t brave or strong and knows his weaknesses and his fears all too well. He has to overcome his fear for love. Walk a thousand miles, for love. Betray his people, for love. Guilt lies heavy on his heart.
Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
One of the reviews for Where Hope Dares said this novel would appeal to readers who liked intelligent dystopia. I take that as a compliment. I think anyone interested in ethical, social or religious issues, or climate change and the environment, or anyone who likes a damn good adventure or an epic story would enjoy it. I think it would appeal to men and women equally.
What is the message you are trying to get across in your book?
That religion is a human construct and fighting over it is ludicrous. That we hold our future and our children’s futures in our hands and that greed, over-population and exploitation are threatening our planet. While, personally, I think the planet would do very nicely without us, and we are the worst thing that has ever happened to this beautiful, fragile Earth we inhabit, I fear equally for mankind’s future.
What is your writing process like?
At the moment virtually non-existent as we’re hopefully moving house shortly. I try to write something most days but promoting takes up an awful lot of time. I also still proof-read and edit for my friend, and she for me. I tend to write about 500 words, re-read and re-write – go away and think about them. Delete half of it and write it again… you get the picture.
How do you go about editing your story?
I do the first edit as I write by rereading the previous few hundred words and amending them before I write the next part, often to accommodate what comes next. Each chapter is sent to my friend and I take on board any comment she makes. When I finish a novel I put it aside for a week or two and then reread it. Knowing what has happened later in the book often causes changes in the earlier chapters. My characters don’t tend to tell what they’re going to do next and are often quite impulsive. They expect me to write them out of some impossible holes. When I’m happy, it goes back to my friend for her to read through for continuity and typographical errors etc. More changes occur and then out to beta readers. More changes. Then a reread to do a final tighten, check for flow, and try to pick up any remaining errors.
Where did you find your cover artist and what was the process like?
I make my own covers. The cover for Where Hope Dares is a combination of three images purchased from on-line image sites and a book-cover site. I combined them using Photoshop and added the text. The same process is used for the print copy.
How did you go about getting published?
I did try the traditional publishing route, but the experience terrified me. I suppose I’m a control freak. I much prefer having my books in my own hands and do what promoting I feel comfortable with. This is why I chose self-publishing.
What was your self-publishing experience like?
Probably the steepest learning-curve since learning to put food in my mouth without poking my eye out. It’s very hard work and terribly time-consuming but I’ve met some wonderful people along the way. It’s been a hard but satisfying experience.
What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
Pretty much as I’ve already said. Hard work. The sheer difficulty of putting a book under a potential reader’s nose is daunting. The joy of a good review, knowing someone loves what you write, makes it all worthwhile. And don’t underestimate the feeling of holding your own book in your hands. An ambition achieved!
What were the surprises? Good or bad? If so, what were they?
I think the difficulty of getting your books seen and getting reviews from readers when they are read. Authors need feedback. It’s hard to create and improve in a vacuum.
How do you go about promoting your book as a self-published author?
Probably not the way I should. I’m still learning. I use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc… all the social media sites. My books are on several book-promotion websites including Goodreads and www.independnetauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn where you can download an embarrassingly true short story ‘Ooh Air Margrit’. I do author interviews and I’ve recently done a book fair at Llandeilo and am attending another at Tenby on September 24th (unashamed plug). I’ve recently tried Amazon advertising with some success, and do free offers from time to time. I’ve also started a Facebook group where readers can browse the first chapter of some talented Indie authors’ work at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1537993556496575
Is there something about the whole process you wish someone had told you before?
Good or bad?
Not really. If I’d known what I was letting myself in for or I’d never have had the courage to go ahead. Not knowing what I can’t do has stood me in good stead all my life.
Do you have any advice for writers who want to self-publish?
Do it. Make sure your novel is the very best you can make it. Listen to criticism, write honestly and from the heart. Join an author support group: other authors have a wealth of knowledge and experience you can call on, and they on you. Most of all, enjoy the process: there’s no point doing it if you don’t.
What plans do you have for the future of your writing?
I’m presently writing part two of a historical novel inspired by a black sheep in my ancestry who was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1841 for the ‘very aggravated manslaughter’ of one of Lord Northampton’s gamekeepers – the research, particularly into women’s rights, or lack of them, in the 1840s is fascinating. I hope part one, On Different Shores, will be published late in 2016.
What are you social accounts if people want to connect with you?
Now, for a sample of Ruth Coulson Where Hope Dares Chapter One click the red link!
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