GUEST BLOGGER: RUTH WARBURTON
At last, it’s here! The final book in Ruth Warburton’s BRILLIANT Witch series. And if that wasn’t good enough, Ruth is our guest blogger this week. Over to you, Ruth!
When I was asked to write a blog post for Girls Heart Books I wasn’t sure what to write about. And then I thought, well, I’m a girl. And I most definitely heart books. In every possible way. Why don’t I write about that?
I wasn’t always a writer. I started off as a reader. Then a story-teller. Then a scribbler. Then a reader again. I wrote a lot of words. Some of them were the right words in the wrong place. Some of them were the wrong words in the right place. Some of them were just wrong. And, every now and again, a few thousand of them gathered together into story-length clusters for warmth. And at last I wrote the book. The book that got published. A Witch in Winter.
But really it all started with quite a different book: Five on a Treasure Island, by Enid Blyton.
This was the first proper book that I read – and by proper, I mean I read it all by myself without prompting, without nagging. I was seven. I remember the teacher reading it in class and being so completely gripped that she said I could take the book home overnight. Of course that wasn’t enough, and eventually my mum bought me a copy of my own. I read it voraciously – possessed by the need to know what happened to Anne, Julian, George and Dick. I didn’t mind that Julian was a patronising boor, and Anne meekly submitted to being told to make beds out of heather and be a good little housewife. I didn’t mind that the only girl with any real personality had a boy’s name and thought it was pretty rubbish being female. As for Dick – well, actually I can’t really remember very much about him. He didn’t really seem to have a point, except to make it The Famous Five which sounds better than The Famous Four. I didn’t mind any of that. Or rather I did, even then, but it didn’t stop me reading. I read up to lights out. I read through breakfast. I wanted to read through supper too, but my mum instituted a rule that breakfast was the only meal where we were allowed to read at the table, and that, I think, only because otherwise I sat and read the cereal packets with a morose expression.
Later, when my parents split up, one of the things I liked about staying with my dad was that he didn’t care about putting your book down for meals, so all three of us, me, my dad and my sister, often sat there silently through mealtimes each with a book propped between our plate and our glass, silently forking down the food and turning pages. And at some point I started to write.
I wrote my first story because I was told to, at school. It was about a witch, but told from the point of view of an elderly factory caretaker called Cardie. One night he is minding the factory after dark when he sees strange shapes moving around the upper stories. At first he suspects burglars, or a trick by his colleague. Then suddenly he realises the date: 31st October. Halloween… It took me a long time to come back to witches. In between I wrote a lot of stories. And by a lot I mean a LOT. They started off short, and gradually got longer and longer. By the time I was twelve or thirteen I was writing booklength stories – sixty or seventy thousand words. And by the time I was in my twenties I had at least three or four manuscripts under the bed – hand-written, in fountain pen ink that faded from blue to black and back again as I swapped the ink cartridge.
Then one day, more than twenty years after I’d written that first witch story, an idea for another story popped into my head: a girl casts a love spell on a boy that she likes. And it works. But the price she pays is never being truly certain whether he likes her back. I started to write. I had no idea how the story would pan out – but one thing I was sure of, a book would be important somehow to the story. And it was. As I wrote, it became clear that a book was at the root of everything. My heroine, Anna, finds an old grimoire (an old-fashioned word for a spellbook) in her father’s house, and when friends come over for a sleepover they try out a spell. It’s a love spell, and although Anna’s not intending to think of anyone in particular, a face comes into her mind when she says the words. It’s the face of a boy at school: Seth Waters. When she gets to school on Monday she finds, to her surprise and horror, the spell has worked, and that’s where her troubles begin. She realises there is only one thing to do: go back to the book, and sort matters out.
In fact, the story of how Anna got there, and why, and how she gets herself and Seth out of this mess would take far more than 80,000 words to tell. More than three times that. I wrote a sequel, A Witch in Love, in which another book holds sway over Anna’s life (the Malleus Maleficarum, a handbook for hunting and prosecuting witches). And now the final book in the trilogy is just about to go into shops – A Witch Alone. It sees Anna leaving her family and her friends and everythign she knows to venture to Russia in search of a final text – one that will tell her the truth about her past and who she really is. So the Winter Trilogy is finished. But I’m still writing (I’m currently working on a book called Witch Finder set in Victorian England) and I’m still reading. And I still heart books.
Thanks Ruth. That was a really interesting account of how you started your writing career.
There are 3 copies of A Witch Alone, waiting to be won on our competitions page. Hurry, the competition ends on Friday 15th February.