In the Blood by Ruth Mancini
Ruth Mancini is a criminal defence lawyer, author and freelance writer. She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.
- What book from your childhood still has a place in your heart today?
I’ve read and loved so many books that I honestly don’t think I could pick a favourite. When I was younger, the magic of Enid Blyton’s ‘Faraway Tree’ stories really grabbed me, along with ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and some stories by a Welsh author named Gwynedd Rae about a Swiss bear called Mary Plain. As a young teenager, I was very much influenced by the strong, bold women I read about – Jo March in Little Women, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I still shudder to think how I would have survived emotionally under the societal constraints of those times. I’d have probably turned to crime!
- Which fictional character stayed with you long after you finished the book?
Jo March. I could relate so much to her strong will, her independent nature and her craving for self-expression – which also caused her to be tactless towards others at times. Her struggle to break free from her role of ‘little woman’ chimed so much with my own.
- Can you tell us a little about your journey with your new release?
I’m a practising lawyer and a mum of two as well as an author, and so finding time for it all has been a bit of a challenge! As the world in which my story is set is one that’s very familiar to me, finding inspiration was never a problem, but I was so busy working that it probably took me a good year to get the story out of my head and down onto the page. The first half came slowly, but I then had some interest from a prestigious literary agent and wrote the second half (50,000 words) in three weeks flat! I didn’t get much sleep during those three weeks, but it was worth it. Last August I signed a two-book deal with leading London publisher Head of Zeus.
- What was your favourite read of 2017?
I’d say… Appletree Yard by Louise Doughty. It had everything I love in a story – an ordinary relatable woman who is clever but imperfect, and a window into her personal and romantic life – along with a terrible crime, and a courtroom drama. I also loved that it was set in London, a city that I adore and where I feel privileged to work still. I’d seen the BBC drama when it screened last January and thought it was superb – I couldn’t stop telling people about it. I read the book after I’d seen the screen version, so it was perhaps the wrong way round; but it was so well-written that it didn’t matter that I already knew the story. In the Blood has now been compared to Appletree Yard and so that’s a massive compliment.
- Is the genre you write your favourite to read?
Yes, I read the kinds of books I like to write: books about women and their lives and relationships, domestic suspense, and legal thrillers with strong characters as well as a good plot. In the Blood is a crime story, but that’s a wide genre in itself. I prefer my crime fiction medium-boiled, the way I write it. Not too much violence or too many graphic descriptions of crime scenes or dead bodies for me. I’m more interested in the people in the story and the psychology behind the crime, as well as the characters’ back story. Having a relatable protagonist is key for me.
- What are you working on now?
I’m writing the second book in the series, the sequel to In the Blood. Sarah has a whole new crime to solve – but as in the last book, her personal life becomes intertwined.
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