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03 July 2019

Ruth Kvarnström-Jones: ‘a painful rejection may only last a day …’

Photograph by Kate Gabor
by Katie Smart Author Interviews, From Our Students

Ruth Kvarnström-Jones is a British-Swedish author, she studied on our three-month online novel-writing course in 2018 and now she has a three-book deal with Printz Publishing for her historical trilogy Halleholm. The first novel in the series is set to be published in 2020. 

We found out more about Ruth’s approach to writing and her experience of studying online with us …

You were writing book one of your Halleholm series on our three-month online course with Suzannah Dunn. What was your favourite part of studying with us?
The comradeship within the group. Good ideas were polished and improved upon. Bad ideas were shot down then thrashed out until we came up with a workable, credible solution for a dodgy plot point or a character that simply wasn’t working. Some of the best twists in our books were hatched and honed within the group. Suzannah was brilliant.

Your group was very chatty and supportive. Are you still in touch with any of your course mates?
Very much so. We’re still at it over on Facebook and we meet up with those we can where we can. I’ve met up with the European lot in London, and I know some of the others have met up in the US and Australia.  We’re all in for the long haul. We want everyone published.

How did it feel when you found out you had a three-book deal for Halleholm?
I’m still getting my head around it and it’s been a month! Elated, obviously. And incredibly proud to be signed by Printz. But there’s also a huge sense of relief and gratitude. Everything has changed. I’m out of the submission mire and can crack on with writing and planning the next steps in my career. It’s more down to me and less in the lap of the gods.

Part of your book takes place 90 years ago, and a key element of writing historical fiction is the research. Can you tell us some of your tricks of the trade?
I collect books on Stockholm’s history, so I was off to a good start, but I also found gems in second-hand book shops such as a recipe book for Swedish bakeries from 1933. I visited Stockholm museums for interior setting ideas and bought old catalogues to nail the styles and prices of household goods in the 1930s and 40s.

Then I spent months trawling through DVDs and making notes. Couldn’t believe my luck when I came across a boxset of Stockholm newsreels from 1897 – 1969.

Do you have any writing rituals?
Only one. I always write with a lit candle on my desk.

Any words of wisdom you’d like to share with aspiring authors?
I set myself one rule: a painful rejection may only last a day. Buy shoes, eat cake, whatever. Then get back to writing the following day.

What’s next for you and your writing journey?
Summer school with CBC! I’ll be working on the second book of the Halleholm series. Then back to Stockholm to carry on writing and to do whatever Printz Publishing and Norstedts Agency need me to do. And quite honestly, I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

If you’re looking for a novel-writing course that you can take from anywhere in the world then apply for our upcoming 6-month online novel-writing course led by Lisa O’Donnell. Hurry, applications close July 21st.

Or, if you’re London-based check out of 6-month novel-writing course in London with Simon Wroe. Apply by July 14th.

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