Tuesday, January 21, 2014

AN INTERVIEW WITH EILEEN RAMSAY

TODAY WE ARE INTERVIEWING EILEEN RAMSAY, WRITING AS RUBY JACKSON
 
Eileen is a Scot, educated here and in the United States. Her first teaching position was in Washington DC where her pupils were drawn from America’s top families, the Diplomatic Corps and politicians. Scary at first, she tells us, but then Senator X or Ambassador Y became just someone’s dad! Next came a position as Social Secretary to the wife of a Presidential candidate, followed by marriage and a move to California where she taught in Migrant Education, every bit as rewarding as her first job. Her first publications were in America before she headed home.
Wave Me Goodbye was published in November. It is the story of orphan Grace who joins The Women’s Land Army to escape her unhappy home life. She learns skills, makes friends of all ages, all classes and even from other countries. Buried memories surface as does an old love. New love beckons – which path will Grace take?
What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write?
I’m very lucky I was asked to write a series of books, Churchill’s Angels, the brainchild of my editor, Kate Bradley. I spent some time researching the military jobs done by women during WW11. I choose the areas in which I had some knowledge. Then I wrote a proposal for four stories featuring four friends. Kate chose the storyline she thought would be the best to begin the series. Therefore it took me six months or two years to write the first book!!
Your books are set in one area of the country. Why did you decide on that location?
The books dictated where they should be set. I wanted an area that was directly in the flight path of German bombers and so chose Dartford and Kent’s “Bombers’ Alley”.
How did you carry out your research?
I read everything I could find about Dartford’s WW11 experience, and accumulated an immense library of non-fiction books covering, not only the  history of the war, positions held by “Churchill’s Angels”, but rationing, fashion, entertainment etc. Dartford’s archivist conducted us  through the town, and through its history. Librarians were invaluable. The world-wide web was helpful and I do have an advantage since family members have been or are in the military. I visited military museums, airfields, London hotels, spoke to local farmers, contacted the Milk Marketing Board, even the archivist at Fortnum and Mason. People were unbelievably generous and I’m deeply grateful to all of them.
How do you fit your writing around your home life?
When I was teaching I wrote from 4.30 a.m. until it was time to wake my children. If I was working in the evening or weekends, I continued no matter what was going on around me. Now, except when babysitting grandchildren, my time is my own. My husband helps with housework and cooking. Housework slips when I’m facing a deadline and then we blitz the house together. Social life is practically non-existent but I have boldly invited some friends to dinner – a dear friend, also a writer, is bringing dessert so at least one course will be delicious! 
What advice would you give to new writers?
Read widely would be the main thing, I suppose. Don’t stay in your comfort zone. I heard a writer say, “Write it, and then write it right”, and that’s fantastic advice. Edit rigorously - reading aloud will pick up errors, repetitions, missing words. Listen to the flow, the lengths of your sentences. Leave a few days between readings because your brain and your eyes see what you think you’ve written. You’ll recognise favourite words – make a list of them and when your next piece is finished use your search and replace button. Invest in a thesaurus, put on some Mozart - very calming - and read. 
What is next in your writing life?
I am working on my fourth Churchill’s Angels book. After that, I don’t know. I have, as always, too many ideas.
Thank you, Eileen, for sharing your thoughts with us today.
website  http://www.eileenramsay.co.uk
Publisher http://harpercollins.co.uk

Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.
Please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.comif you wish to be featured on our blog.





 
 


 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 comments:

Rosemary Gemmell said...

What a lovely interview with Eileen - I so admire your ability to be so focused when writing. No wonder the publisher had every confidence in you with a series like this, Eileen!

Sara Bain said...

I never get bored reading about Eileen's life and writing journey. Not only is she a highly talented writer, but also a fascinating individual. Loved the interview, Eileen. You never cease to inspire and you deserve all your wonderful success as a top author. Sx

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hullo Eileen, Although I knew a little of this story before, it's amazing to read just how much research you put into the series. I have a little book of grammar called Write Right! It's helped me out of a lot of holes! Anne Stenhouse

Elaine Everest said...

I had the good fortune to meet Eileen when she came to Dartford (Kent) to celebrate the launch of Churchill's Angels. What could be better than a long chat with a lovely writer and a book set near my home town?

Natalie Kleinman said...

I so enjoyed compiling this blog, Eileen. Meeting you when you came to Dartford was a real pleasure and to be involved in sharing your amazing journey has been a privilege.

Eileen Ramsay said...

Elaine and Natalie, thank you for your comments. I remember my visit to your group with great fondness;
I may have written a few more books than you lovely ladies but, my goodness your streets ahead of me with IT skills!
Fondly,
Eileen

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anne,
I think you may know the writer who told me to “write it, then write it right” - the incomparable Mgt Thomson Davis
Eileen

Karen Aldous said...

Wave me Goodbye is a great title, Eileen and I so look forward to reading the series. An enjoyable blog with lots of advice for writers and I know Eileen has a real generous heart in helping us new writers. Like her characters and her writing, Eileen is truly one to believe in!

Maggie Craig said...

What a lot of research you do and how well you weave it in to the story. Can't wait to see what you will write next!

Joan Fleming said...

A well rounded interview that highlights how unique your experience and background are, Eileen. The focus on Churchill's Angels brings us up-to-date, with your interesting research for the series. I like your advice not to 'stay in your comfort zone' - always very tempting.

Chris Longmuir said...

Eileen is a lovely writer and deserves every success. I've read Churchill's Angels and enjoyed it, and I have Wave Me Goodbye sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. I will get round to it Eileen once my deadlines are past. In the meantime, good luck with the series.

Jenny Harper said...

The hallmark of a great writer is not to let the research show. Of an even greater one, to do LOTS of research and not let it show! eileen's books are a great read, I've read both in this series and am agog for the next.

Myra Duffy said...

I never cease to be intrigued by the interesting lives some writers lead/have lead. And the interview is a good reminder that behind great writing is a lot of hard work!

Anonymous said...

Elaine Roberts

Eileen, I was fortunate to meet you at Dartford and the talk you gave us was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed your interview and have read Churchill's Angels and I'm looking forward to your new novel.

My apologies for the late posting but I've had problems posting my comment.

Francesca Capaldi Burgess said...

Thank you for that glimpse into your writing life, Eileen. You obviously work very hard at it. I also met you at Dartford and enjoyed your talk there. I particularly like the advice,‘Write it, and then write it right’. It’s all too easy sometimes to labour over the first draft and get nowhere fast.

eileen Ramsay said...

Francesca, thank you,
Re posting, I’m so inept, only about 1 in ten of my attempts anywhere ever get through.

Re hard work/research etc Friday evening I’ll be at the ROH - tough but somebody’s got to do it!
Eileen

Liz Fenwick said...

What a great interview. Love hearing how other writers work and Eileen - I love your plan for entertaining. I owner if I convince all my guests to bring all the courses and I supply the plates and the wine???

lx