Interview with Ruth Dugdall on Her Latest Thriller



Published next month by Legend Press is award-winning author Ruth Dugdall’s latest pyschological thriller “Nowhere Girl.”

Ruth Dugdall
Ruth Dugdall

The story is set in Luxembourg and explores the dark topic of child abduction. When a young girl disappears at the popular annual Schueberfouer (fairground) event, new resident and Probation Officer Cate Austin attempts to investigate the crime. As she begins to piece together the clues, she uncovers dark secrets in the town and begins to wonder if she is discovering a child trafficking ring, or is there something more dangerous and sinister happening closer to home?

I offered to interview Ruth recently in order to find out more about this promising and gripping new title. I  unveiled her latest journey to Luxembourg where her story idea stems from, what each book means to her, plus she provided me with an interesting little insight into her next upcoming project which she has already begun working on.

Well done Ruth and thank you for the interview.

Ruth, your latest novel “Nowhere Girl” isn’t officially published until October, can you tell me a little bit about your inspiration for this story?

“I had just moved to Luxembourg, and was feeling a bit lost. Far from home, in a country I wouldn’t have been able to identify on a map just a few months before, where the common language is one I don’t speak. It was scary. And then, dropping my children at school one day, I saw a poster:
Make sure you accompany your children to school.

When I asked why, I found out there had been three attempted kidnappings close by and that got me thinking – how frightening, to have a child taken in the centre of Europe. Where would you begin to search? And if the mother was a `foreigner` – an ex-pat – how would she feel, dealing with police and press? I pitched the idea to my publisher and started writing.”

How did you find the story-planning process compared to your previous books, does it get easier to come up with a new storyline?

“Coming up with the storyline isn’t the difficult bit, it’s what follows that is a challenge. Especially because I needed to start researching in a place where I didn’t know the Criminal Justice system. I was very lucky, though; I got advice from social workers and police, and was approved to start prison work here in Luxembourg, so that all added to my knowledge. But I was also writing from the point of view of Cate (my probation officer) who had also `just landed`, so any questions or confusions I experienced I could project onto her.”

Do your novels have a link or are they completely separate characters and themes?

Cate links my novels, she’s in all of them (except The James Version, which is historical). But the difference with ‘Nowhere Girl’ is that she is no longer a probation officer, and she operates more like a private detective or investigative journalist in this novel. I really enjoyed that shift, as it gave her more freedom to act without being constrained by her profession.

As for themes, all of my books are about deviance, things that threaten the hearts of families, like abuse and violence. I’ve been more political in this book, as it looks at human trafficking.”

Was there much research involved in this book?

“Yes, more than with my last book (Humber Boy B) as I was writing about a subject I hadn’t directly worked with – kidnapping and human trafficking. I was really outside of my comfort zone, but I found that exciting. I also really enjoyed using the locations I was visiting within the novel; Metz (in France) and Heidelberg (in Germany) both feature as well as the city and country of Luxembourg.”

As a fellow author I am prone to procrastinate quite a bit when it comes to getting all the chapters written, how do you discipline yourself to reach the very end?

“I’m not a procrastinator, I have the opposite problem, in that I tend to rush when I should slow down. Having said that, previous novels have taken years to be published, so I had lots more time than I wanted. But with “Nowhere Girl” I was in a short deadline, and that kept me focused.”

Some authors with multiple books published can favour one over another, do any of your novels stand out meaningfully for you?

“My books all say something about my life, and what was happening for me personally, at the time I was writing. So “The Woman Before Me” is very much about new motherhood, and was written during my maternity year. “Humber Boy B” came into my mind when I was working in a prison with children guilty of terrible crimes.

So, in that sense, all of my books have meaning for me. “Nowhere Girl” will always be my Luxembourg book. If I had to select one book as more meaningful it would be “The Woman Before Me” as this was the book that found me a publisher, and an audience.”

What does your family think of your writing?

“My family are all very supportive, and without that it would have been very difficult to pursue such an unpredictable and financially challenging career. My husband has always believed in me, and values what I do, which is hugely important to me.

My Mum and Dad value the creative arts highly, and allowed me to follow my dream when I was young, and wanted to study drama and then English Literature. I shudder when I hear people talking about the arts as `easy` subjects, or suggesting their children choose `sensible` degrees. I followed my heart, and I would encourage anyone else to do the same thing. Life is too short to do otherwise.”

Have you learned anything valuable during the creation of your books?

Gosh, so much. About the process of writing. About myself. About the various subjects I have researched.

“One thing I have come to believe, is that no subject should be off-limits. Writers should be brave. Earlier on in my career I tried to change my style, and tone my novels down, in order to attract a commercial publisher. I’m so glad it didn’t work!”

How have your readers responded to your books so far?

“In the main I have been surprised and delighted by the feedback, and am always grateful when people take the time to either contact me of post a reviews on-line. Of course, I know my books don’t please everyone, but that was never the goal. To reach an audience, however select, is the prize.
Of course, with every new book brings fresh anxiety; will readers get it? Have I managed to convey the themes? And – most importantly – is it a good read? With Nowhere Girl I will know after October 31st!”

What are your future plans in the writing world?

“I have just finished re-working a novel that I have been working on since 2006. It’s about a sixteen year old girl named Sam, whose sister has been attacked, and left brain-damaged. Sam has resolved to discover who attacked her sister, but in doing so places herself in grave danger, as she exposes a very dark secret.”

Ruth Dugdall worked as a Probation Officer for almost a decade in high security prisons in the Suffolk area. Now living in Luxembourg, she is currently working at a local prison. Her novels have won various awards including twice winning The CWA Debut Dagger Award for The Woman Before Me and The Sacrificial Man.

Nowhere Girl can be pre-ordered from Amazon

Ruth’s official homepage

More by Ruth Dugdall:

The Sacrificial Man – Buy from Amazon

sacrificial man











Humber Boy B – Buy from Amazon


Interview with Robert D Spake

RSpake“Even if I’m not writing…

I’m always thinking about

what I’m going to write..”

Robert D Spake from Southampton recently talked to me about his writing ambitions and career. He currently has a published novel, Angelic Hellfire, available across all Amazon stores, along with a number of short stories and a collection of poems. He holds a wide range of reading interests in various formats and an interest in many styles of writing including plays and scripts.

Grabbing Mr Spake for a little interview was a pleasure, and upon having read some of his works recently, I found his offerings to be accomplished, efficient and compelling.

Take a look at the interview and check out the various links below to discover the works of this promising young author.


1. Is writing your main pastime?

I’m not sure I’d class it as a pastime, it’s more like an obsession, something I have to do. It’s almost like all the creativity builds up inside and creates this pressure and the only way to release it is by writing. I try to keep it balanced but sometimes I’m guilty of letting it build up to try and make it come out in a frenzied burst. I probably shouldn’t manipulate myself like that, thinking about it. So yeah, it’s a big part of my life and even if I’m not writing I’m always thinking about what I’m going to write or I have fragments of poetry lingering in my head.


 2. Do you write about subjects you also like to read?

Yeah, and often reading about a subject can make me want to write a story about it. For example, I recently read Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini and that made me want to write a pirate story, which isn’t something I considered doing before. I’m interested in a lot of things so I tend to branch out and I’m not content to just sit within a single genre so I’d like to write a lot of different stories and I think that shows in my collection of short stories. Sometimes I tend to take some aspects of the book I’m reading at the moment, I remember a few years ago I was in the process of writing a western/fantasy thing while studying Greek and Roman literature. I was reading The Odyssey at the time and I found that in my story the characters were making these long dramatic speeches in the same tone as the Greek epics so I had to reign myself in a little bit.

3. What is your own favourite piece of writing?

Now this is a very tough question. I’ll always have a soft spot for Angelic Hellfire but in truth it was my first proper attempt at writing so parts of it are still a bit rough around the edges. From my short stories I’m particularly proud of Incestua and Looking Beyond the Edge of the Universe. I also wrote a novel at the start of the year called Fraudulent which is still unreleased at the moment but I’m very pleased with how that turned out because I put a lot of myself in it and it was very draining. There are also a number of poems I like, one in particular which I’ll share with you now, it’s based on Watchmen, so if you haven’t read the graphic novel or seen the movie I’m not sure it’ll make as much sense but I felt really good after I wrote it.
We Watch the Watchmen
(With thanks to Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons)


The clock ticked another minute to Doomsday
A father wept as his daughter stayed out late
To the immortals its nothing but child’s play
Just another tear lost in the rain


A meeting with an old friend reminds you how times have changed
But deep inside a spark remains
A common secret, a common shame
A commonwealth of shared blame
A lover living on another plane
Treating life as if it’s a game
Just have a smoke a tell a joke
Sell everything for fame


It only takes a minuteman to save the world
We all watch the war grow cold
And pray to a silent god
That it all doesn’t end before we run out of heroes


He beats and rapes the love of his life
Because she dared to say ‘no’ twice
Then turns around and rolls the dice
Snake eyes rule his conscience


A boy looks with wrath upon his mother
As she watches one leave then takes another
Just a whore with broken hearts in her bed
Like the lesbians stabbed until they bled


Everyone drowning in their own sin
No-one has the strength to muster a grin
Because the comedian is dead
And the clock ticked another minute closer to doomsday


It only takes a minuteman to save the world
We all watch the war grow cold
And pray to a silent god
That it all doesn’t end before we run out of heroes


The smartest man in the world has gone insane
Another fight in an alleyway
Too much information in his brain
A broken arm, a shattered face
He thought he could find a way to stop the rain
Followed by a warm embrace
But he could never fully explain
Hell is somebody’s happy place
Why we needed all the pain


It only takes a minuteman to save the world
We all watch the cold war thaw
And pray to a silent god
That it all doesn’t end because we ran out the heroes


We were jealous and scared
Lashed out and who was there
Our protectors, to take the blows
Our defenders, as we said ‘go’
So they left us
And we said oh….fuck


We taunted the superman
Flaunted the everyman
Haunted by every damned mistake we made
Trying to escape from the shadows into which we fade
But don’t worry
It’s sane to be afraid
As the clock ticks another minute to doomsday


We just watched as the minutemen died to save the world
And we just watched as the cold war burned
And prayed to a silent god
To bring back the heroes.

Angelic Hellfire4. How did you find the process of writing a novel?

It’s been a bit different every time. I will say that I don’t plan my novels at all. When I get an idea it comes to me in a flash and I have the main thrust of the story and I know most of what happens, and other subplots develop as I’m writing it, so I let it happen rather organically. That part is alright, although it gets pretty hectic in my head sometimes. As for the actual writing of the novel, with Angelic Hellfire I wrote it by hand first, and then typed it up. Because that was my first attempt at a novel it’s been through a lot of edits and I’ve tweaked it a lot, and it was very long. I think I initially wrote it in four months, but it was a long time before I was somewhat happy with it. I don’t write novels by hand anymore because it takes too much time and my handwriting is awful so it’s hard to understand what I write when I go back to it…also I want to be kind to the trees.
But it can be quite draining and sometimes it can seem overwhelming, so I try and take it bit by bit. I set myself a word target every day/week and try my best to stick to that. I managed to write Fraudulent in a period of eight weeks, although that was fulled by a lot of emotion on my part. It does take a tremendous amount of courage and effort I think, and it can be incredibly lonely. I read a recent blog post talking about how important a support network is for writers, because we can get lost in our own worlds so I like places like Goodreads because there’s a very friendly community where you can share and connect with other writers who understand what it’s like. But it’s also very rewarding to look at a finished story and think ‘I created that,’ and you sort of know that you’re the only person who could have written that story in that particular way.

5. What, or who, in the world inspires you?

Well I get inspired by everything I read and watch and listen to. There might be little things in stories or movies that I think could be explored in another way, or a certain image or chain of words that makes me think of something new. Hank Williams in particular has been a big influence on my poetry because I’d love to write poems as tragic as his songs. I generally tend to write things that I’d like to read and I try and take the best bits of what I like and blend them into my stories. I also have a lot of inner conflict that drives my work.

6. Are there any authors that grab your interest?

Do you count? Sorry, sucking up to the interviewer there (haha). I discovered W. Somerset Maughm at the start of the year and I fell in love with the way he writes. His prose is beautiful and I’m in agreement with a lot of attitudes his characters express. I think he’s a very underrated writer and deserves to be more widely-heralded. I also love Tennessee Williams for the emotional vibrancy of his characters and another of my favourites is Philip K. Dick. Whenever you start one of his stories you’re never entirely sure where you’re going to end up, and his short stories in particular are a great showcase for the range of his imagination. Those would probably be my top three, but I’m looking forward to reading more of Sabatini’s work along with a few other people.

7. What has been the biggest challenge as a writer?

On a personal level I think it’s remaining motivated and overcoming the fear of failure and lack of self belief, both of which I’ve struggled with. Professionally, I think it’s getting noticed. I’ve heard it said that the hardest thing for a writer is to learn to stop the editing and tweaking and let the work go, but I think it’s getting exposure and feedback that is the hardest part, especially now. I mean it’s great that we have the opportunity to share our work easily but there’s such a vast amount of books out there it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

8. Do your characters believe in God?

Thanks for the simple non-controversial question! I’m sure some of them do, but for the most part they don’t. I’m an atheist myself so I don’t tend to bring up the subject of religion or God in my work unless it’s pertinent to the story. I put a lot of myself into my characters, especially the main ones, so they tend to reflect my beliefs, which is why a lot of them are Elvis fans.

9. Do you prefer e-books or the real thing?

I like them all equally really. I do like the feel of a book, there’s something nice about physically owning something and being able to see it sit in your shelf, and I’d love to have a published paperback because I think there’s a prestige that comes with it. It’s also easier to lend people physical books. E-books are good too, there are a lot of great free classics available and they don’t take up space in my crammed cupboard. I’ve also recently discovered the panel-view feature that Kindle Fire has for it’s graphic novels and comics and I’m amazed by it in all honestly, it’s such a fluid reading experience. I also love having a load of books available for train rides, I don’t have to lug a few books around in a bag. The only downside is that you have to watch the battery.

10. What’s the best and worst thing anyone’s said about your work?

There have been a couple of negative comments about Angelic Hellfire because there’s a shift in tone about half-way through the book, and a couple of people who read it said they were enjoying it up to that point. So I’ve tried to make it clear that it’s a sci-fi book, even though it doesn’t really start off as such, but to me it’s just a natural progression of the character’s journey and I hoped that even is a reader isn’t necessarily a fan of sci-fi they’d still be invested enough in the character to carry on. My poems have received a fair amount of praise when I’ve shared them with people and someone once said they could really identify with Aaliyah’s journey in Angelic Hellfire which was nice. I also had a friend who was proofreading Fraudulent for me and she read it in a couple of days so it was nice to know that she liked it enough to read it straight through!


Never Trust Your Cellphone

Questions and Answers with Avid Reader 

NeverTrustCellphoneWhy a book of short flash fiction stories, and what is flash fiction?

Flash Fiction is one of the things I read a lot. It has become very popular. The stories are usually between 200-1,000 words and can be extremely different in tone and style and many can leave a long- lasting impression. I guess their popularity makes sense for busy people. They are quick to download and read on a bus, train,  lunch or tea break and often for less than the price of a coffee.

I like to follow trends and have noticed how Kindle short stories are becoming more and more popular and it’s a pleasure to explore and then begin the challenge of crafting something of your own that doesn’t take a year to write, like a novel.


Are the stories very different?

They vary in narrative style and genre. It’s interesting to deviate from the very ordinary ‘short story.’ We have a simple blog post, a diary entry, and a modern ‘text message’ ‘story’ inspired by The Twilight Zone.


What binds all these stories together?

A collection of short stories never have to be the same but these all provoke deliberate contemplation, some are introspective, and others reflective. I expect they will resonate differently for readers, and generally favourites might be picked. Other than that they are purposely different in style and tone so the reader has a varied and interesting quick read.


The title and cover is very eye-catching, is it one of the book’s stories?

The cover is a little tongue-in-cheek and in reference to one of the stories inside. I think people will expect a typical 1,000 word horror story and then find themselves surprised. As for the cover itself I decided not to go with the mundane as there are so many covers on kindle to browse, if you don’t have something catchy your chances of selling are diminished.


Which is your favourite entry?

I think each story and narrative resonates with me in some way, but the last one turned out to be the most exciting to complete as I rarely explore the horror genre enough even though I read it a lot. Stephen King inspired that one as it’s a modern twist in a similar vein to The Twilight Zone plane scene. A man on a plane 20,000 high sees something scary and odd at the window. He texts his girlfriend in bed at silly o’clock to tell her, and surprisingly, the phone works. From there the story escalates into panic and confusion where these two people have nothing to believe or trust in but the messages they send to each other.


Do you have one sentence that can sum up this book?


You never know what’s on people’s minds.


This collection of flash fiction short stories is priced at $1.99 and will be available across all Kindle stores.