A Bloody Good Chat with Ruth Ware

After revealing crime writer Ruth Ware as one of our Bloody Scotland ‘sneaky peeks’ last week, we thought it would be nice to get to know her a little better! The author of In a Dark, Dark Wood and Zero Days, who will appear at the Albert Halls alongside Louise Minchin on Sunday the 15th of September, says she’s thrilled to be part of this year’s programme.

“I love Bloody Scotland. Crime festivals are always just the best fun because crime readers are the nicest readers and crime writers are the nicest writers. And I’m not just saying that – it’s been scientifically proven!

“The nice thing about Bloody Scotland is that Stirling is such a small city, so everyone who is part of the festival stays within a stone’s throw of each other. It gives it a really lovely communal feel. Everybody’s hanging out at the Golden Lion. It just feels like an incredibly friendly festival – it has this ‘come as you are’ atmosphere. Everybody there is a reader and everyone has come along to enjoy themselves.

This year, you’ll be appearing alongside Louise Minchin. What can Bloody Scotland fans expect from your event?

“I haven’t had the chance to read Louise’s book, Isolation Island, yet, but it sounds brilliant. Both Louise and I have written reality tv thrillers, so we’ll be talking about that. Mine is One Perfect Couple and it’s set on a kind of desert island. It’s a Lord of the Flies type story. Things go horribly wrong. The fresh water supply starts to run down, so there’s an awful lot of cracked lips and people slowly becoming dehydrated. Whereas Louise’s novel sounds like it’s sort of climatically the polar opposite. It’s set on a windswept island.

“I think it’s going to be really interesting to look at how two writers have taken what, on paper, sounds like a pretty similar idea and have gone off in completely different directions. We’ll also be discussing how an island setting can play into some of the best loved tropes of the genre. You know, stuff like locked room mysteries, isolated locations and a closed cast of suspects. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going be a really fun event.”

Where did the inspiration for One Perfect Couple come from?

Well, the funny thing is, I’m actually not a huge reality TV fan, which makes me feel like a bit of an imposter. I watched and really enjoyed the first couple of series of Big Brother. All of my friends were addicted to it, so we all watched it and gossiped about it. And then I just kind of drifted away from reality tv. I had kids and a really demanding job, and there were so many of those types of shows popping up. It was really hard to keep up. But then The Traitors came out in the UK and I absolutely adored it.

“I think as a crime writer, what I loved was the crime adjacent format. You know, the fact that it’s all about figuring out who’s lying, who’s telling the truth, who’s deceiving other people for their own gain and how far contestants will you go to win.

“Then I was at an author event with the writer Gillian McAllister, and we were talking about reality TV. I think I said something like, it’s a miracle more people on those shows don’t end up murdering each other because the stakes are so high. You can see the producers winding the contestants up to such a pitch where sometimes it really does feel like it wouldn’t take much for them to come to blows. And Gillian said, as a kind of joke, oh that sounds like a Ruth Ware novel! I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, but then when I sat down to write what became One Perfect Couple, her words kind of came back to me!”

What compels you to write crime thrillers?

“I love books that have a really strong cerebral element to them. I like a really strong puzzle. As a reader, I love reading books where you are kind of in a battle of wits almost with the author. You can see that they’re laying out the clues. You can see they’re giving you information and it feels like you’re in a race to solve the puzzle, before the characters in the book solve it.

“But as a reader, I also really love books that have a huge amount of heart in them and a really strong emotional storyline.  As a reader, you really feel what the characters are feeling – you’re terrified when they’re terrified. The thing about psychological thrillers, and particularly the kind that I write, is that you don’t have to choose. You can have both of those things. You can have that puzzly aspect where there’s a great twist and you’re sort of like, oh! I should have guessed that. But you can also have characters that you’re really, really invested in and a strong emotional thread to pull you through the story.”

What’s the best thing about being a crime thriller writer?

“The community. The readers and the other writers are genuinely lovely. And crime festivals are always such fun because, you know, the crowds are just so good. The readers are so good, they’re so generous, they’re so intelligent, they’re so well read. And, you know, likewise for my fellow writers, they’re just an incredibly generous bunch. I think there’s often a feeling that writers are in competition with each other – and on some level we are in that we’re all going for, you know, the same Richard and Judy slots or the same supermarket promotions. But actually, we’re not in the sense that what’s good for the genre, is good for all of us. If a really, really good crime thriller comes out and the author really nails it, it makes readers go back to that section and look for other authors who might be doing something similar. And that’s really great for all of us.”

You can find out more about Ruth Ware and her work over her website: https://ruthware.com/

Ruth will appear at Bloody Scotland alongside Louise Minchin, on Sunday the 15th of September from 12pm – 1pm. You can book tickets to this event and all of our ‘sneaky peeks’, here: https://bloodyscotland.com/whats-on/

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Join us for a special Launch Event...

Join us for this special standalone event with the brilliant Val McDermid, who’ll be helping us to launch the 2024 Bloody Scotland programme. Val will be in conversation with Craig Robertson about her dark and bloody latest novel, Queen MacBeth.

Shakespeare fed us the myth of the Macbeths as murderous conspirators. But now Val McDermid drags the truth out of the shadows, exposing the patriarchal prejudices of history. Expect the unexpected. A thousand years ago in an ancient Scottish landscape, a woman is on the run with her three companions – a healer, a weaver and a seer. The men hunting her will kill her – because she is the only one who stands between them and their violent ambition. She is no lady: she is the first queen of Scotland, married to a king called Macbeth. Thursday 20th June at 1.30pm in The Golden Lion Hotel, Stirling. Tickets £6/£5

Thursday 20 June 2024, 13:30

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Bloody Scotland wouldn’t run without the dedication of eager volunteers, keeping the crowds safe, the tech running and the authors guided. Every year we look for Front of House Assistants, Author Hospitality Assistants, Author Signing Assistants and Festival Marketing Assistants to help out our busy team.

2024 applications will open soon.

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Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s international crime writing festival is an independent, not for profit charity, established in 2011 to present the very best of Scottish and international crime writing. We rely on a combination of sponsorship, grants, box office and donations to support our activity.