Thursday, 8 March 2012

Ruth Warburton **Author Interview & International Giveaway**

Ruth Warburton is the author of A Witch in Winter, the first in the Winter trilogy, which was published in the UK on January 5th 2012. The book follows the story of Anna, as she moves with her Dad from London, to the little town of Winter on the coast, and learns things about herself, that she didn't even think were possible.
This is Ruth's first novel.

A couple of days ago, I posted my review for A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton, which I really enjoyed. If you happened to miss this review, worry not - just click here.
So you can imagine that I'm a little bit excited when I say that Ruth has agreed to an interview with us, here at Pen to Paper, and I will also be hosting an international giveaway of one paperback copy of the book, courtesy of Hachette UK.
Very, very exciting stuff! So without any more delay, I'd like to welcome Ruth to Pen to Paper!

First of all, Ruth, I'd like to welcome you to Pen to Paper. It's great having you here!
:) Thank you for having me!

Could you tell us a little something about yourself?
I'm the author of The Winter Trilogy - the first book A Witch in Winter came out in January 2012 and the next volume, A Witch in Love is due out in July. And I also work part-time as a publicist with an adult publisher.

What were your favourite books as a child, and were they the books that initially inspired you to write?
I think reading has definitely shaped me into wanting to become a writer. I write for the same reasons I read - in order to inhabit another world and another head, so I'm not sure if the books I read exactly inspired me, or if it's all part of the same urge to inhabit imagined worlds. I think I picked up reading quite slowly as a child, apparently one teacher told my mum she thought I might have a learning delay! But once I got got into it I became a voracious reader and devoured everything from Enid Blyton through to Jane Austen, the Mitfords, Colette, Jerome K Jerome... I also read lots of sci fi thanks to my dad - Frank Herbert and John Wyndham. I don't think I could put my finger on one favourite. It changed all the time.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? And what made you decide to finally put Pen to Paper?
I always wrote, pretty much from as soon as I could write. We got our first family computer when I was six or seven and I used to tap out little stories on it, which got longer and longer until I was writing full-length books. But I never really imagined "being a writer". That always seemed like something someone else would do!

Imagine you got washed up on a desert island, and you could only take three books with you. What books would you choose, and why? (And no cheating - desert islands can't charge eReaders! :P)
Urgh, that's so hard!! One would have to be an extremely long complicated book to keep me thinking and guessing. Could the complete works of Shakespeare count as one book, like they do on Desert Island discs? You can get all the plays in one volume! Then the second would have to be something comforting and undemanding, so I could read it when I was feeling homesick. Maybe something like Love in a Cold Climate, or Three Men in a Boat. For the third one, could I cheat and take a book of blank paper and a pen? I reckon the urge to write would be as powerful as the urge to read, after a while.

Which authors do you find most inspiring, and do they influence you in your own writing?
The books which influenced The Winter Trilogy are all quite ancient ones - Malory's The Morte D'Arthur was a big influence for themes, and Beowulf was a source of lots of the spell language in A Witch in Winter.

When writing, do you have a special place that you like to go to and write?
I write on the sofa in the living room - so not very special really, no!

I see from your website that you studied English Language and Literature at the University of Manchester - I'm currently an English undergraduate at Birmingham City University, and I studied a little Old English in my language modules last year, so when the book mentioned that the spells were in Old English, I was (I'll admit) a little anxious. But I was really pleasantly surprised by the authenticity of the language that you used. Did you do much research into the spells and enchantments, particularly those in Old English?
The spells were definitely one of the hardest things to write and I did a lot of research. There are real medieval and early modern grimoires which survive today, but they aren't really what we would think of as spell books - they're often written in Latin and are sort of pseudo-scientific, designed to be read by learned men with lots of astrological information. They don't really cover the kind of spells that I wanted the girls in the book to use - which are more like folk charms. So I did research into the language and style of real grimoires (and also other instruction books from the 16th century like recipe books and so on), and then I tried to combine that with the folk remedies and charms I'd read about.

But as you say in your question, the incantations are in a different style again - Old English. I studied Old English at university but I can't claim to be an expert! The reason I wanted to use Old English was because it's the root of all the most powerful words in our language - if a word is polite or refined or academic, it's probably an import, from French or Greek or Latin or another language entirely. But the core words which really pack a punch tend to be from Anglo Saxon - Old English. Love, hate, life, death - those all derive from Old English, as does the word witch. Lots of the words and phrases I use in the spells are borrowed from Beowulf which is a fantastic story of bravery and magic. But they aren't authentic spells in themselves - I've just adapted them for my own ends.

Do you believe in magic?
Not really, no. I'm quite sceptical about most things, and tend to only believe what I have concrete proof of. But I think that's partly what I was exploring in the book - what happens if you are that kind of uber-rational, sure-of-yourself person and yet you find that everything you believed was true is based on a false premise. So I guess I'm not a believer, but at the same time, I don't think it's healthy to be too sure of your own position. You should always be willing to reappraise what you believe in the light of new evidence!

Obviously, Winter is not a real place, but did you make it up with bits and pieces of real places in mind?
Yes, it's a sort of cocktail of elements of my hometown of Lewes, mixed with bits of seaside holidays in Cornwall, Devon and Brittany. A large part of it is just plain made-up though.

Are any of your characters based on people you know? Do you recognise yourself in any of your characters?
Not one single character is one single person, and I suppose there are elements of me in most of the characters, and elements of some of my friends mixed up in some of them. The person closest to me is probably Emmaline - I can be quite sarcastic, so I let her give vent to all the snappy remarks I'd make in her shoes!

Which of the characters from the book do you think you'd get along with the best?
I think I would rub along well with Emmaline, and I'd enjoy sharing a pint with Abe. Although I suspect neither of them would have a great deal of time for me, being a boring outwith.

Many authors take different approaches on this, so I'd love to know how it happened with you; Did your characters come first, or did the plot arrive first and create the characters?
The initial seed of the spell came first, the idea of girl who puts a spell on a boy and then can't take it off. The characters and the rest of the plot both filled out from there - I had to find out why the girl would do this, how the boy would feel, how she would feel - their characters dictated the plot and vice versa, so they both kind of developed side by side if that makes sense.

When you were writing the first in the trilogy, did you know how the final book was going to end, or has it kind of grown organically?
At first I was just writing outwards from that little seed of the spell, but the basic structure grew pretty quickly as I answered the initial questions that came up - like who was this girl? Why wouldn't she know she was a witch? Where did she get her powers from? From about a quarter of the way through writing book one, I had a good idea how it would all end, though the twists and turns came later.

A little about you ...

Do you prefer tea or coffee? Coffee - and I am a real coffee snob, I regret to say. Instant coffee is not coffee in my book.
Sweet or Savoury? I like both, but if I had to choose, I'd probably say savoury. I am a cheese-addict more than a chocolate addict.
Hot or Cold? Hot food, cold countries!
eReaders or physical books? Physical books every time. I read manuscripts on an e-reader, but that's it.
Paperback or Hardback? Depends - if it's a book I adore and want to keep forever, hardback. If it's a book I want to stick in my luggage and read on the tube, paperback. Some books I have in both editions because I both love them and want to keep them forever AND read them on the tube.

When you're reading, do you use little scraps of paper as a bookmark, or do you use 'beautiful bookmarks' (as I like to call my own collection!)?
I read a lot in manuscript which is easy, since you just put the read page at the back, so the first page in the pile is always your current page. If I'm reading a hardback I tend to flap the jacket inside the book. If it's a paperback I'm ashamed to say I bend the corner of the page - I never used to do this, but I picked it up from my boyfriend so please blame him.

Do you have any strange or embarrassing habits?
Obviously the REALLY embarrassing ones I am not going to mention! I will admit to a strange addiction to Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers audiobooks (only those two authors - I don't really listen to other audiobooks for some reason). And I never finish a cup of coffee or a piece of toast. I always have to leave an inch in the bottom of the cup, and a little scrap of crust. Don't ask me why.

Other than writing and reading, what are your other hobbies?
I absolutely adore cooking. It comes from being basically an extremely greedy person.

What is your favourite animal?

If you had to sum yourself up in five words, what would they be?
Mother. Daughter. Wife. Writer. Friend.

Do you have a place other than your home, where you feel most comfortable and the most at peace?
I love walking in woods (any woods) and on the Sussex Downs.

What are the simple things in life that make you smile?
A good glass of wine and a piece of perfectly ripe cheese. A kiss from my boys. Sunshine on a cold day.

And finally, could you tell us one more odd, funny or interesting fact about yourself?
I don't have a middle name. For most of my childhood I felt that was a slight but now I'm quite glad!

Thank you so much for coming along to Pen to Paper, Ruth. We've loved having you here!
Thank you for having me and for the brilliant questions - I had a great time!

And now for the giveaway! Again, I'll say a huge thank you to Hachette UK for supplying the giveaway prize of one paperback copy of A Witch in Winter for this international giveaway.
I'll lay down some rules etc first, and then I'll let you get on with the entering!

  • You must be a follower of Pen to Paper via Google Friend Connect to enter. My giveaways are for my wonderful followers, so make sure you become one of them :)
  • I will need your exact follower name in the Rafflecopter below, so that I can find you easily on the list of followers. I reserve the right to disqualify any entrants who are not public followers of the blog.
  • This giveaway is international, so anyone can enter. When the winner is drawn, and I have their mailing address, I will pass that on to the publishers, and they will get the prize out to you. 
  • There is one initial entry for following Pen to Paper, and then there are a number of additional, but optional entries. These are not mandatory, but they could mean the difference between you winning, or someone else taking the prize!
  • When the giveaway is over, I will draw the winner from the Rafflecopter, and email that person. If I do not receive a reply from the winner within 48 hours, I will have to draw a different winner, and the first will lose their prize. This is nothing personal, but someone does have to win the book!
  • Please don't leave your email address or any other contact details in the comments on any of my posts. I use the Rafflecopter so that your details are safe. Please take advantage of this. 
  • The giveaway will end on March 31st at 23:59 EST.
Click here to read the synopsis for a Witch in Winter and my review

a Rafflecopter giveaway


blanshire said...

Been wanting to read this book! Can't find a copy in my country thou. orz
Anyways great interview! Also if I could answer the question of 3books in a deserted island, I would probably choose a survival guide book, bible and of course complete works of Shakespeare as well. xD

Thank you for the giveaway. Hope I can win. orz

Nicole@The More the Merrier said...

I love that Ruth Warburton took the time to do so much research for her book. I have had to read some Old English and it was so foreign to me. It was interesting to see how English changed over time.
Thanks so much for the chance to win!

Vidya-BooksAreMagic said...

I was actually waiting for the author to say about her embarrassing habits (I know..don't blame me..after all, I am still a girl). :) But, she didn't say, as most of them would. :)

miki said...

it's a book that interests me a lot. I love witch and i want to see how ruth managed with teh language and such. And the cover is fantastic

all the best

Cassandra said...

THanks for the giveaway.. it looks like a good book. I love debut novels!! And the cover is gorgeous!

micia said...

magic's argument makes me alway scurious

CYP @ A Bookalicious Story said...

I LOVE animals!! Haha, and we'll go great together cause you love to cook, and I love to eat. ;P Haha, thanks for this giveaway!

Nancy Allen said...

I love to read! I really enjoy reading about witches to learn more about Wicca. I love fiction because you can get lost in their world. Thanks for the giveaway.

Christina Fiorelli said...

I love that the author did a lot of research and you really get a sense of who she is from the This or That:)

Just Another Teenage Bookworm said...

I've been wanting to read this book for quite some time. Oh, and the fact that Ms. Warburton can't drink instant coffee made my day. Us snobs have to stick together!

SaraEchelon5 said...

Hi! Thank you for the giveaway!
I don't know why I can't open GFC page and I can't neither see the part on the sidebar; so I'm not sure If I had followed you in the past :(
If I haven't feel free to disqualify me :)
Thank you for the giveaway, the book seems amazing, and the cover is beautiful!

divavixenqueen said...

Never read Ms.Warburton before, but the interview was really good and the premise of the story seems really intriguing.

Carl said...

Great interview! Ms. Warburton and I have a good deal in common. Coffee, sweet and savoury, physical books over ebooks and more. Thanks for the giveaway as well.

Steph said...

Great interview! I was wondering how someone would go about writing spells and incantations. Research is a must I guess! You asked some great questions!

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is one of my favorite books ever. I wasn't sure how I would like it at first due to its format. I ended up not wanting the story to end (as you did) and wanting to move to the island and live with all those wonderful characters.

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

It was interesting to find out that Ruth found reading difficult at first but then became a voracious reader. So many kids who find reading hard give up before they find out how wonderful it really is. Ruth not only did not give up, she became an author!

franchie15 said...

Thanks for this giveaway! :) Such a pretty cover. :') Great review, by the way! Story seems real great. :)

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

Just love to discover "new" authors! This sounds like a real treat.

marybelle said...

I already have A WITCH IN WINTER on my wish list.

Only a writer when given a choice of 3 books on a desert island would take pen & paper. Clever.

SweetMarie83 said...

Great, thoughtful interview! I always love learning more about authors and their writing and research process. I've had this book on my wishlist for ages it seems, so thanks for the chance to win a copy, Dani! :-)

Jolene and Family said...

Wow, this sounds like an amazing read. I really enjoyed this interview and I cannot wait to read the spells :)

DeltaYordani said...

I'm very interesting with the cover of book :D
And the interview was good ^^

layen said...

Yes, instant coffee is definitely the worst! I love the tidbit about Old English, especially about the core words that came from it. Never knew that since all I took in university are math subjects!

Thanks for sharing this interesting interview :D

Veronica W. said...

Thanks for the giveaway! Love your blog. I've followed it for awhile :)

valerie said...

~Fantastic giveaway.

IdentitySeeker said...

I love how you created the town of Winter drawing from different places you've visited and lived in. It sounds very cozy. I also prefer hot food and cold climates. I'm not much of a coffee snob, though. Anything that keeps me awake is good enough:)

Thanks for the great interview!:)

Rafflecopter name: Sarah Bibi Setar

snowflake said...

Your blog looks fantastic, can not wait to read this book, looks so good!

By the way in case you think I'm cheating, my Facebook name is Tink Lee Mse, so I have liked on Facebook lol. and I've followed the blog under the name Rhonda.

becsm said...

I've heard so much about this book and has all been good. I'll be picking up this book win or lose.

becsm said...

Such a down to earth author, i love the fact she writes from the sofa, such a great idea for a book a girl putting a spell on a boy and couldn't remove it who hasn't wanted to have a boy under your spell at sometime or other.

Helen said...

This looks like a great book. I can't wait to read it. Witch books have always been my favorite.

Sharmaine Chan said...

CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSEE!!! I'm also addicted to cheese! My sisters even asked me on day if I were a mouse or something! Great interview! I really enjoyed it!!

Ruth_Marianna said...

I enjoyed reading the interview. With so many new authors these days it is hard to choose what to read. It always helps to know a little about the author as I am more likely to read books by someone I know at least a little about.

Anna Kahn said...

Lately i've been really into magic/fairytale retelling. I really like your blog and follow it pretty regularly. thankyou for being a good reviewer - you are really thorough!

Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay said...

Great Interview

kristiana said...

i really enjoyed the interview!

i live in tropics country, so i can't imagine that if i can live in country with cold weather. actually, we have rainy night and day today, here in Central Java, Indonesia, and it makes me wish that i can have some cups of hot tea or coffee.

i never read Ruth's book before, but i love witch stories, so, yes, it will on my tbr list.

thank you for the interview and for the giveaway! and also thank you for making it international ^^

MorganvilleVampiresFan#1 said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing book would love to read it. I really enjoyed this interview and I cannot wait to read the spells :) Thanks for this!

Teresa said...

I already had A Witch In Winter on my to read list, now i've just got to find it!
It's interesting how she wrote a book about magic and all that, and yet she doesn't believe in magic herself. I also love cats (and dogs, and practically every other animal)!

Thanks for the giveaway :D

roro said...

Great Interview

Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales said...

This book looks awesome - especially love the cover and can't wait to read it. Cheers for the interview and giveaway!

Dovile said...

I'd read this book only for the beautiful cover, but I also like books about witches:)

ZaraAlexis said...

I also started to read and write at a very young age to "inhabit imaginary worlds." Books were my secret best friends! And I think the living room couch is the perfect place to read and write! It doesn't matter where you're doing it---just that you are doing it!

Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself. And I LOVE THE COVER!!

Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

Kimberly Lim said...

I've been wanting to read this book, not just because of the VERY amazing cover, but also because of the great plot...
Thanks for the giveaway..

Tasnim said...

Great interview! This book has been on my TBR list on Goodreads for a while now :)

Brittany C. said...

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview/giveaway :) This book looks awesome!!

Laura said...

This is a great interview - its really interesting to hear how she came up with the spells for the book.

kiki_725 said...

I love finding out about authors. thanks :)

Stephanie Verhaegen said...

Great interview and giveaway. I think this book must be really good! Thanks for sharing!

Eli Yanti said...

i'm curious with you dont belivive about magic but you can write about witch's story ;)

carol810 said...

My favorite animals are cats too but I differ from you in that I do beleive in Magic. Your book sounds great and i would love to be lucky enough to win it. Thanks for the opportunity.

Juliana's World said...

I've never read your book. It's great to have a new author. I like the story about magic. Hopefully, I can win your book

bibliomouse said...

I did Old English for my U/G Engligh degree so I always look out for it in novels - great that Ruth did so much research as well!

Aai Marsh said...

Lol please blame him! XD

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