Monday 19 May 2014

In my Author Spotlight is ....Jan Ruth

I am delighted to welcome to the blog

Author of Novels

Wild Water
Midnight Sky
White Horizon
Silver Rain

 Short Stories

The Long And The Short Of It
A Long Way  From Home

Jan ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for chatting with us about the inspiration for your books.

What do you love about Writing?

It’s something to do with the creation of a cast of people, and then being able to play God and Devil in the same day!

What can you tell us about your books that won't give too much away?

I live in Snowdonia, North Wales, UK. This ancient, romantic landscape is a perfect setting for fiction, or just day-dreaming in the heather. I write contemporary stories about people, with a good smattering of humour and drama, dogs and horses.
Seventeen years ago we moved from Cheshire to North Wales. Although Cheshire has its history and pretty rural surroundings aplenty, Wales is far more extreme in both aspects. The castles and the rugged hillsides scattered with stone settlements, druid’s circles and Roman roads bring out the historical muse in me. To think that I am treading the same path as someone who lived in the Iron Age, is both fascinating and humbling. Snowdonia kick-started my stalled obsession with writing in a very positive way.
All this whimsical talk of the past makes me sound as if I write historical based fiction. Far from it. Much as I admire many other genres I tend to be very much rooted in current times and my work reflects a lot of my own life experiences. But this is where I find the two ideas merge a little because I am most certainly inspired by this Ice Age landscape and the idea that what has gone before, shapes what we see today, but does it shape what we feel, too?

I am certainly in my creative comfort zone tramping up the hills on a moody day. There’s no better way of plot busting. The tiny church of St. Celynin (sometimes known as Llangelynin) is a great find for historians, spiritualists, all kinds of artists, and a certain weary walking writer! It’s quite a climb, some 900 feet above the village of Henryd, but sheltered from the Irish Sea by the comfortable bulk of Tal-Y-Fan. It proclaims to be the most remote church in Wales and due to its location, it is actually better accessed on foot or on horseback, but that’s just me wearing my whimsical hat again. I guess you could ride a quad bike or get a 4x4 along the green lanes and tracks up from the village, but that would spoil the experience considerably. Someone said that ‘The centuries of men’s hands on the same stones put the feeling into a place’. I can relate to this and there’s no better way of making that connection than scrambling over those very same walls and finding a way across the hills. Even the names of the mountains are laced with enough magic to fuel the effort.

The church is named after a 6th Century prince, Celynin, and it is a widely held belief that the remains of the settlement close by was also his home. Inside, there are inscriptions on the white-washed walls of The Ten Commandments and The Lord’s Prayer, and strangely enough a skull and crossbones. The Welsh language, being the oldest (still spoken) language in the world, lends so much more romance and intrigue to any story, even though I don’t understand all the words. One of the well-preserved benches is dated from 1629 and dedicated to Reverend Owen Bulkeley, former rector. Oh, I’d love to go back to those times just for a few hours, to maybe listen to the man reading his sermon and sit with the congregation. Instead, we have to be content with mere historical recordings and the remnants of those times, in whatever form they present.

So, I fling myself down on the rough grass, or if the mountain weather is inclement, sit awhile in the porch to drink coffee and just… fall into the dreamscape. I love the way ancient history here is often blurred by myths and legends, shape-shifters and superstitions. Rich then, in history and romance and easy enough to blend both, with a touch of fantasy and suspense. Especially so when the winter sun is low in the sky, sending out early shadows to creep across the crooked stones of derelict homesteads and graves. And late sunsets in summer, when the scudding clouds floating in a fiery sky take on the shape of dragons and rearing horses. Or maybe, when the druid’s circle is shrouded in mist and… can you hear something? Like the clink of marching armour and the clash of swords…there’s something moving out there, or is it just my imagination?

Do you write stories for yourself, or other people?

I write the fiction I like to read, it’s somewhere between very grown-up chick lit and women’s literature. So, I think the answer is... both.

When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?

I’m lucky to be retired from outside jobs (I’ve done many, varied, and useful for drawing on) so the time isn’t really a problem these days, although even when I was working I still found time to be as productive. If the muse is kicking, I just get on with it!

Which writers have inspired you?

Lots! Dick Francis, Enid Blyton, Victoria Holt, Lewis Carroll, Jilly Cooper, Julia Crouch, Deborah Moggach.

Can you tell us what you are writing next?

I’m currently writing a Part-Two to my first title, Wild Water. I was concerned how I’d feel about this as not only were the characters and plot lines twenty years old, I’d not written a sequel before. However, I’m pleased to report that I’m about 60k in and all the loose threads from part one are starting to come together in a very suspenseful climax. Interesting to note how my writing style has changed too. I don’t think Wild Water was my best writing, technically. But it’s been the most popular novel with regard to the characters, and I’m enjoying being back with Jack and Anna.

After this, I’ll be putting together a collection for Christmas. No doubt I’ll be writing these in the heat of August as I never seem to be able to synchronize the seasons!

Jan - Thank you for sharing your time with us.

It's been a real pleasure to host this interview with you. 

Please come back and chat with us some more.


For more information about Jan and her books visit her website


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