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Lying Game

Q&A With Ruth Ware

3 January 2017

In just three years Ruth Ware has become one of the biggest names in thriller writers.

With her first three novels optioned for TV and film adaptations it’s clear that hers is a name we’ll continue to hear for some time. To celebrate the news that her third novel ‘The Lying Game’ is to be adapted for TV we spoke to the Sussex born author about Agatha Christie, adaptations and audiobooks.

Did you always want to be a writer? 
Yes! Always. Though I didn't think it would really happen. I always loved writing and telling stories, but actually making a living from it seemed like a remote possibility.

You first started writing for young adults before moving to thrillers. Why the change in audience and genre?
Basically it was simply that I had an idea that was clearly not for a YA audience. A friend suggested an idea about a murder on a hen night, and I knew immediately that I really wanted to write this book. But clearly there was no way it would work for a teenage readership – not many 15 year olds attend hen parties!

You’ve often been compared to Agatha Christie. Is she a particular literary idol of yours?
I have too many literary idols to list, but she's definitely up there. I read her extensively as a teenager, and I still think she is one of the best plotters there is. She more or less invented the “twist” with novels like The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd.

What’s your proudest moment as a writer?
Some of the emails I have had from readers have made me properly well up. It's amazing when someone says that your work has helped them through tough times, or got them back into reading and enjoying books. Lo in The Woman in Cabin 10 struggles with anxiety and I get a lot of emails from readers saying how important that aspect was to them.

We’ll be publishing The Lying Game in large print next year. How would you describe the novel to new readers?
It's a little bit different to my previous books – slightly slower, perhaps, and more meditative. It's about four women who are tethered together by something they did years ago at boarding school. Now, after seventeen years of lying and covering up, a bone has surfaced and they have to return to their old stamping ground to face up to the truth of what really happened.

With it recently being announced that The Lying Game will be adapted for TV, do you have a dream casting for Isa Wilde?
I'm terrible at casting my novels – I think it's because my characters are so real to me, it's like being asked who should play your dad – and of course the answer is, well, my dad's my dad!

We’ve released a number of your novels as audiobooks. What’s your opinion on audiobooks? 
I love them. I listen to them while cooking and on long car journeys! You need a good narrator though – there's nothing worse than someone mangling an accent or putting stresses in the wrong place. I think I've been very lucky with mine.

Have you heard any of your audiobooks? 
I listened to little bits – just to check that the narrator was a good match for my characters (she is!) But I can't listen to them cover to cover – it's too weird hearing my own words. A bit like when you phone up your own house and get your voice on the answerphone.

Our uLIBRARY service allows you to listen to your local library’s audiobook collection anywhere, where would you recommend listening to your audiobooks? Ooh, with The Lying Game I would recommend listening to it on a long drive around somewhere bleak and coastal. Romney Marsh or the Norfolk coast would be ideal.In a Dark, Dark would should probably be on a long forest walk! The Woman in Cabin 10... well, I feel like I should say a sea voyage but actually that might put people off. Maybe safely on dry land!

With libraries across the UK facing closures they’re now seen by some as not being important anymore. Do you have any fond memories of using libraries and do you think they’re an important service?
I think libraries are incredibly important. People who say ebooks have made libraries redundant are, I think, completely missing the importance of a physical space filled with free books, staffed by people knowledgeable enough to advise you on them. I know from the Public Lending stats how many people borrow my books every year, and it's tens of thousands and rising. With schools increasingly unable to fund their own libraries, for many children a public library is their only chance to explore books free of charge and at their own pace. My mum worked in the library service so we went every week, sometimes twice, and I still remember the excitement of being able to browse the shelves and pick out exactly what I wanted, with no worries about cost or whether I would enjoy the book at the end of it. I love bookshops too – but a library is a completely different kind of freedom and we will be immensely poorer as a society, and failing a generation of children, if we don't maintain our library network.

Ruth Ware’s three novels ‘In A Dark, Dark Wood’, ‘The Woman In Cabin 10’ and ‘The Lying Game’ have already been published in audio and are available on ULibrary Digital. ‘The Lying Game’ will be available in large print from February 2018.