Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Q&A with Ruth Mancini

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This week I'm very honored to have Ruth Mancini on the blog as part of her blog tour with the GoslingGirlsBookTours. Thanks for organizing this lovely ladies.
       Swimming Upstream is Ruth's debut novel. Thanks lovely lady for answering my questions, xx.

I was born in South-West London and educated in Cambridge and London where I gained a bachelors degree in French and Spanish and a post-graduate diploma in Law. For several years I worked in the publishing industry before leaving my job, my relationship with my long-term partner and my home to travel and also to write the first draft of Swimming Upstream. I then put my writing career on hold for several years while I retrained as a lawyer. I have always had an interest in civil liberties and I care strongly about social justice as well as loving books and wanting to write. I now live in Oxfordshire with my husband and our two children. I still practice as a lawyer and juggle that with writing and raising the children. My first child was born in 2002 with a severe learning disability, which means that he is also physically disabled (the two often go hand in hand) so it’s been tough! I’ve written about this - and about friendships, relationships and surviving life’s challenges generally - on my blog page if you’d like to know more.
I am an avid reader as well as a writer and author. My favourite books are women's fiction novels and psychological thrillers and I write in a similar style to the authors I enjoy: Elizabeth Gilbert ("Eat, Pray, Love"), Nick Hornby ("High Fidelity" and "How to Be Good"), Blake Morrison ("The Last Weekend") and David Nicholls ("One Day"). I also loved "I Don't know How She Does it" by Allison Pearson and "A Thousand Acres" by Jane Smiley (two very different books!). My favourite book of all time is "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.
Swimming Upstream is my debut novel. It has just been released with Booktrope Publishing and currently has 4.6 out of 5 stars over 55 reviews on Amazon UK and 4.1 over 83 reviews on
I am now writing a sequel to Swimming Upstream.


1.     Did you always dream of being a writer?

I did when I was young. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and I remember the magical feeling of making a handwritten ‘book’ for my mum out of cardboard when I was 5.  I don’t think the joy of creating a story for others to read has ever left me. I went into the publishing business straight from university, so it was always ‘there’, though I didn’t do actually start writing properly until I was in my thirties.

2.     You work as a lawyer. Can you tell us a bit more about it please?

I became very interested in the law in relation to human rights after one of the authors at my publishing company was accused of a crime he hadn’t committed, locked up and hanged by the Nigerian authorities, for criticising them, basically. I became a criminal defence lawyer and I still juggle that with writing. I remain passionate about justice, and ensuring that people have a fair trial - that the evidence against them is properly tested.

3.     Your book is called Swimming Upstream, what’s it about?

It’s been described as ‘thinking women’s chick lit.’ It’s the story of a young woman who realises that she’s unhappy with her life and in her relationship. Then she gets hit by a car, which sets off a life-changing series of events. Essentially, it’s a story of love, loss and friendship. It’s also about life choices and living with the consequences of those. It’s quite reflective at times, but there’s also lots of plot, with twists and turns.

4.     You have a bachelor degree in French and Spanish, do you still use these languages in life?

Not much, to be honest, though I’m planning to take my youngest son to France this year for the first time. I love both languages and I miss speaking them regularly.

5.     How do you manage to juggle everything: writing, job, family…?

It’s hard! I recently gave up working full time and now work on a freelance basis so that I can write and also be there for the children a little more. My oldest son is both physically and intellectually disabled and he needs a lot of help. I think the key is to prioritise what really needs doing. I read once that JK Rowling said she didn’t do any housework for a year and I thought to myself, ‘Yep. That sounds like a good excuse for leaving the dishes!’ But seriously, you can’t do everything, and I think I realised recently that some things are just not as important as others.

6.     What are you working on right now?

I’m writing the sequel to Swimming Upstream. It’s almost half finished and I’m loving every moment of writing it. It’s great to be with those characters again.

7.     Where and when do you write your stories?

At home, in my study during the day. I find that early morning is my most creative time and I try not to stay up too late working.

8.     What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

Reading, swimming and walking. Watching movies. I do all those things alone or with my husband and youngest son. I’m trying to teach my oldest son to talk (he’s eleven and has no speech), so I’m learning makaton (sign language) and working with him on that. I love travelling, but haven’t really been anywhere for years because of my biggest boy and his difficulties, but I do try and get a night away in London with my husband every now and then. It’s such a great city. I love wine and nice food and eating out is a real treat. 

9.     Who is your favourite author and why?

I don’t really have a favourite author but I do love contemporary women’s fiction. I like reading about women living lives a can relate to and I suppose that’s why I write them too.

10. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what 3 books would you want with you?

      Well, it would have to be the Complete Works of Shakespeare, just to keep me busy. After that, I think I would have to have some kind of inspirational non fiction book to keep me positive. Maybe Kihlal Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ or Scott M Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’. And then my all-time favorite, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee.

11. How would you describe your style of writing?

      Contemporary and conversational. I love writing dialogue and I think it’s one of my strengths. I’d like to write screenplays one day.

12. How was the cover for your book developed?

I wanted a woman looking into the water, to capture the essence of the story. My original cover designer came across the wonderful face that I have now and I loved it instantly. She’s so pretty but unique too.

13. Is there research about locations and places involved when you write a story?

Lots. I took a trip to London last week to do a site visit for the sequel to Swimming Upstream, and it was amazingly helpful. I research everything very carefully, even if it’s just a paragraph about something I’m not sure of. The internet is just fantastic, of course, because it’s all there at a touch of a button, but when I wrote the first draft  of Swimming Upstream twenty years ago, I had to go to the library and spend hours searching through microfiches. It was so time consuming.

14. What’s best thing about being a writer?

      Everything about it is fantastic. I love creating something out of nothing other than a few ideas, and seeing it all take shape and come together. I particularly love the way my subconscious runs with an idea, and I find myself writing something that I never knew that I was going to say, but that fits perfectly with the story.

15. You also have a blog on your website, what topics to you write about?

      I write about real issues that affect people, which are connected with my books in a way. I talk about the struggles we all face in life and surviving those challenges. I’ve written about my son and how I came to terms with his disability, about mental illness, relationship breakups, things that worry us. Life, in short!

16. Coffee or tea?

      Both. But I drink redbush tea rather than normal tea these days. I went off the taste of normal tea when I was pregnant and never seemed to get it back.

17. Paperback or e-reader?

I love paperbacks but I have a kindle and that’s what I use most. I have two in fact and an ipad with the kindle and nook apps. They are so much more practical.

18. Mountains or the sea?

The sea! I love water – being near it, in it, looking at it, swimming in it. It’s so calming.

19. Summer or winter?

Spring and autumn, really. I don’t like too much heat and a nice sunny spring day with a cool breeze is just right for me. I think autumn is my favourite time of year though.

20. Sweet or salty?

Salty. I love olives and pickles and crisps and nuts. I do like chocolate every now and then, especially after a meal, but it’s definitely something savoury that I look for when I’m hungry.

 Ruth on Twitter: @RuthMancini1

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