I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I'm giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don't think I'm alone in wondering whether it's all worth it. Thaw by Fiona Robyn
From this moment I was captivated. My first thoughts, "oh what have I gotten myself into" disappeared by the end of page one and by the end of the second I was hooked.
Thaw chronicles the life of Ruth. A thirty-two-year single woman living in London, wondering if it's worth living. From everyday meanderings, to thoughtful contemplations, Thaw is an open, honest and frank account of a woman's struggle with circumstances which can and often do effect each one of us at one time or another throughout our lives.
Far from being depressing, Thaw is a remarkably uplifting story. Written in a diarised style, it allows the reader to watch as Ruth's life takes on its unwitting journey, moving in directions not even Ruth could imagine as she attempts to reconcile with estranged relatives, casual friends. As she develops relationships, she learns not all is what is seems in the perfect lives of those around her.
I came, I saw, I conquered! Aptly describes what should be Ruth's motto in life. A thoroughly enjoyable journey for all.
"I couldn't put this one down. Ruth is so real and tragic she made my heart hurt. Some books stay in your head and heart forever, and this is one of them. Profound."
Sharon on Goodreads
Fiona welcome to The View From Here
As I researched you for this interview I found the same thing, ‘Fiona Robyn is a writer and blogger living in Hampshire with her partner, cats and vegetable patch.’ There is not much more about Fiona the Person. So can you tell us a little about who is Fiona Robyn?
Hmm. Where to start with that question? I could write a list of things-that-I-am – therapist, sister, friend, gardener – or I could tell you what I’m interested in – Buddhism, words, cats, chocolate. But the best way to get to know me is probably to read my novels.
How important is it to keep your Author and person separate?
I do feel that some things are appropriate to write on my blog or in my books, and some things aren’t. In that way I keep some of my ‘person’ secret. But in other ways it would be very difficult to separate us.
As I look around the web I see your writing everywhere Facebook, A Small Stone, Fionarobyn.com, and one of my favourite Planting Words just to name a few. What is it that motivates you too write?
I write to help myself pay attention to the world, to help me engage with the world.
When did you first know you were a writer?
I knew I was a reader before I knew I was a writer. I used to copy quotes into a notebook, and I loved the power of stories. I started writing poetry when I was in my early twenties, and then nothing could stop me.
How important is research when writing?
My personal view is that the authenticity of the characters, the shape of the story and the quality of the writing are more important than the research, but it’s important not to make any glaring errors which would distract the educated reader. I like broad research (e.g. finding out more about gardeners) but I’m not very good with detail. I find it a bit boring.
This novel is captivating. How did you come across Ruth?
Thank you. Ruth was the first character to appear in my head – I wrote Thaw before the other novels. She just turned up one day and asked me to write her story.
So much of Ruth's story touched me. I took away the sense that bad things happen to good people, that we all have ghosts but it's how we deal with them that matters. That to me was something truly inspiring. It brought you in to Ruth and her circle. It also gives the reader closeness to her. How did you approach writing Ruth’s character with such honesty?
I’m glad you thought so. I think different people might have different ‘readings’ of the book, but we’ll see. Ruth is fictional, but I believe that we all have the capacity to be anything/anyone, and I hope I’ve tapped into those parts of my personality that KNOW what it’s like to be her.
The emotional roller coaster Ruth takes us on gives the reader plenty to think about.
Where did you look for inspiration and insight into her?
I read a lot about suicide and self-harm, but mostly I looked inside myself. I don’t have personal experience of these issues, but I can imagine how someone might get to a place where they would seem like valid options.
Writing as a diarised novel must have its mountains to climb. How different was it to write as opposed to a straight through story?
I’m a pretty intuitive writer, so I just sat down and wrote a first draft without trying to think about the structure, characterisation etc. It’s only when I do later drafts that I start to fiddle about with the structure and polish up the sentences.
What was the biggest change in Ruth’s life with the greatest effect on her attitude?
I would say that Red, her portrait painter, is the crucial element to her transformation, but the reader will have to decide!
My favourite character next to Ruth would have to have been Julie. Which was the hardest to write and where do you look for them?
That’s surprising! All my characters appear from the ether…
What do you hope readers of Thaw take away from it?
I hope my readers will understand what it is like to be Ruth, and that it will help them to ask themselves questions about their own lives.
How have you found the reaction to Thaw since its recent release?
The paperback isn’t out until February 2010, so not many people have read it yet. The people who have read it seem to say it affects them deeply, which is a wonderful thing for a writer to hear.
How do you approach writing?
I see writing as a ‘way of being’ – it’s about documenting the world, and making sense of it and myself.
What is the most important attribute for a writer/author to have?
Perseverance is essential if you want to have a career and be published, but the only requirement to be a writer is a love of words.
What advice can you give anyone embarking on a career as an author?
Don’t give up. Get lots of support. And try to enjoy the process. If you’re meant to be a writer, the stories will nag at you until you write them down.
If you enjoyed reading Thaw as much as I did, why not participate in Blogsplash.
I'd like as many people as possible to hear about the opportunity to read Thaw for free. I'm asking bloggers to participate in a Blogsplash on the 1st of March 2010. They'll publish the first page of Ruth's diary on their blogs, with a link on the bottom to my blog so people can continue reading.