Author Interview: Ruth O’Neill

When and why did you begin writing?

I didn’t really have a plan to write a book at first, but after my partner wrote a book I wondered if this was something I could also do.

I started to write roughly four years ago. My book is based on a true story, although all names have been changed. I felt that my story might give readers an insight of how alcohol can destroy lives and actually help people in similar circumstances.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I don’t think I ever really thought of myself as a writer, as I was motivated by just putting a story together. I suppose it wasn’t really until I actually saw my book as a finished product with the front cover and my name on it that made me realize I was an actually bone fide writer and a published author.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?

I am a part-time writer which seems to suit me, as I work full-time. I found that as my story developed I got more and more into writing, and it developed into a full time hobby where I would work on it whenever I had some free time.

For the last fifteen years, I’ve worked in an inner city secondary school supporting young people with Special Educational Needs and writing this story gave me a massive focus away from the commitment of my job.  I enjoyed the experience of writing and I would love to be a full-time writer.

Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?

I definitely did not have any specific time that I set aside to write my book, as all my work was organized whenever I had free time. I don’t know if it’s the same with other authors, but I had no specific structured time organized to complete my writing. I found I could write at any time of the day or night.

Whenever I had any free time I found I was able to get straight back into my writing exactly where I left off with the same level of focus. I found the experience to be really therapeutic, and it developed into an enjoyable hobby, which kept me focused for the four years it took me to write it.

What have you written so far?

Sunshine & Tears is my first and only book. I enjoyed writing Sunshine & Tears, as it was a new experience for me. I did not really think I was capable, but I had a story to tell and wanted to tell it – for me this was a powerful motivation, and I enjoyed the experience so much that I really want to continue with my writing.

Do you work to an outline or plot or sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?

With my story I already knew the outline, so from my point of view I just had to add structure and decide how the timeline of events would flow. Once I had the structure clear in my mind, I found that I just carried on with my writing, sort of going along with the flow. Although, from time to time I might start a paragraph with an idea in mind and then go off on a tangent to develop and explore other areas.

What are some ways in which you promote your work?

This was something I was new to and spent ages on the internet investigating the best ways to market a book. Obviously, positive reviews are a key factor in spreading the word that you have a marketable story so I was keen to get as many reviews as possible. I am trying lots of different marketing strategies as recommended in my how to market a book research including:

  • Giving away numerous copies to family and friends
  • Writing over 30 e-mails to amazon top reviewers and I received two reviews both giving me 4 out of 5 stars.
  • Offering a free book giveaway on Goodreads where 675 people entered. As well as this another 289 people marked it `as-to-read` item on their bookshelf, which I felt is also good exposure for my book
  • I did another giveaway on The Library Thing, in which 15 people requested review copies. Again, I felt this provided good exposure and more hopefully positive reviews
  • Providing a hyperlink of my book on The Bristol Index – a local website
  • My book has its own web page

Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?

Sunshine & Tears is based on a true story.

After Rosie gets stood up by ‘Jack the lad’ Jay, she agrees to go on a shopping trip with her sister Jackie. Rosie unexpectedly meets the man of her dreams, Garry. This starts a sequence of events that will change her life forever.

The young couple begin a fairy-tale romance, both looking forward to building an idyllic future together. But when financial and emotional difficulties threaten to tear them apart, shy and naïve Rosie suddenly has to find the strength to keep everything together. Fueled by alcohol, Garry turns into someone Rosie doesn’t recognize anymore.

Can Rosie help Garry and bring him back from the depths of despair and self-destruction? Their love had been deep and unconditional but will love alone be enough to give Garry and Rosie the future they had always longed for?

Romantic and heart breaking, Sunshine & Tears chronicles the destructive power that alcohol can have on people’s lives.

The story is based on a true story, and I feel it is quite a powerful an realistic depiction of how a seemingly idealistic life can all fall apart forcing us to make very difficult decisions. In fact, review comments refer to Rosie’s strength of character to face what she did. Another reviewer comments on her anger that Rosie put up with so much without getting out – a real reflection of how real people deal with the subject matter in question.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start writing this book?

Everyone knows about the devastating and destructive effects that alcoholism can have on families, but few are unlucky enough to experience what it is really like. Everyone has a view but what would they do in the same circumstances. My story is based on personal experience and details a tragic love story between two people, who really did love each other, but one of them was ‘unable to cope with the harsh realities of life.’

It’s hard to understand how a person can carry so many demons inside them and not seem to be able to do anything to conquer them.

I know that Alcoholism is a serious mental illness and that it seems to be misunderstood by a significant number of people. The only real support comes from Alcoholics Anonymous but as everyone knows, to benefit from its support the alcoholic must really want to change. The problem is that there isn’t any effective support or strategies that can help the alcoholic want to change.  So what can we do?

Where do we go from this position? There doesn’t seem to be any answer. Friends and family only look on in despair as they try to understand what is happening in your life. They try to offer solutions, but you know you can’t follow their advice (after all you still love him). Everyone looks on while your world falls apart.

My book hopefully details the pain, confusion and hurt that one partner might feel ‘the Sunshine’ while still trying to remember the good times, ‘the Tears’ as the relationship turns into a nightmare of despair as events seem to take a destructive life of their own.

What is your next project?

My next project is likely to be a Romantic Thriller.

I am trying to put a structure in place that I hope is exciting and will challenge the reader to draw conclusions at each stage of my story. I feel I am continuing to develop and grow as a writer and believe my creative skills are now much more developed from my experiences of writing my first book. I feel I am much more able to build strong characters and a powerful plot and I hope this will be seen in my next book.

Ruth O'Neil
How can you connect with Ruth?

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