As a reader I’m always on the look-out for new books and as a writer I’m always keen to learn from the experience of others so I’m delighted that Ruth Hunt is on my guest on the blog to share the story of her book, The Single Feather.
Tell us about you and your writing?
In the famous line ‘the past is another country’ – my past feels like another world. I was a sporty teenager, into gymnastics, and wanted to be a journalist, but then aged 18 I was involved in an accident, emerging with serious and permanent injuries such as spinal cord damage and a below knee amputation. In a matter of seconds I had gone from the able-bodied world to the disabled, and that’s when I started to notice odd behaviour from friends, who suddenly dropped off the radar. Also when reading or watching TV, I noticed how rare it was to see or read about a disabled character. To top all of that off, about 70-85% of the outside world I couldn’t access, unless I had significant help from someone else. I had stopped writing as soon as I became disabled, but when I was 30, and going through a difficult patch medically I turned to writing, almost like therapy.
I didn’t have any intention to write a novel, but when conditions for people with disabilities suddenly deteriorated from 2010 onwards, I saw an opportunity. Now it has been published (Pilrig Press) I’m writing another novel, doing a creative writing degree, and I also write on a freelance basis for the press.
Your novel, The Single Feather was released in February 2015 what is it about?
The Single Feather is about a woman called Rachel, who’s a seriously disabled amateur artist. With the help of a family member she’s escaped from an abusive, traumatic period with the ‘Guards’. To add to her problems, she’s feeling increasingly isolated. All she wants is to feel accepted in her new town, Carthom, so decides to ‘reinvent’ herself hiding large chunks of her past. When she joins an art group, she’s not aware of the fragility of some of her fellow group members or the secrets they are keeping. As arguments start up – the tension rises and the group splits into factions. With the ever-present possibility of being returned to her former life, Rachel along with some of the art club members realise to move forward means confronting the past, but with all what’s happened are any of them in the mood to forgive?
I’d made a conscious decision over the years to avoid writing about disability issues but I couldn’t help but notice how few novels for adults had a seriously physically disabled protagonist. Then in 2010 onwards there was a significant shift in people’s attitudes to those with disabilities, mainly caused by a combination of the government and right wing press demonising those with disabilities, which has now filtered down to members of the public .This led to an increase in hate crime, as well as suicides and much more. So, I thought if I was going to write a book with a character with disabilities this was the perfect time to do it.
How long did it take to write?
In all it took me two years to write, plus an additional period of time rewriting and getting it ready for publication.
Was it a smooth process?
Not particularly! When I had finished writing it was far too long, 120,000 words in total so I needed to find 20,000 words to cut. In the end, I had to be really brutal, a whole chapter was taken out, which meant lots of little edits so it wouldn’t be noticeable. Having an editor along with Beta readers onboard helped so much at this stage of the process.
What would you like readers to take away from your novel?
I would simply like them to enjoy it, and if they take away a deeper understanding of disability issues and isolation then that’s a bonus!
What advice would you give to someone new to writing?
Keep a journal, and try to regularly use it. Trust your gut instinct – I gave up on a novel ¾ of the way through, because I knew it wasn’t working, and looking at it now, I’m really glad I didn’t finish and submit it.
The Single Feather is available as a paperback, and as an eBook http://www.amazon.co.uk/Single-Feather-Ruth-F-Hunt-ebook/dp/B00TMFYHTY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424020939&sr=1=1&keywords=The+single+F
Direct from my publishers at http://www.pilrigpress.co.uk/books.html#feather
And from all good bookshops.
You can find Ruth on Twitter @RFHunt1 or her blog on http://www.rhunt4.com
If you’re a writer and fancy being a guest on my blog then let me know as I’d love to hear how you’d answer the questions.
You can read my answers to the questions on Ruth’s blog here.