Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Ruth Hogan which was first posted in May 2018. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Ruth’s latest publications.
Ruth Hogan was brought up in a house full of books and grew up with a passion for reading and writing. She loved dogs and ponies, seaside piers, snow globes and cemeteries. As a child she considered becoming a vet, show jumper, Eskimo, gravedigger, and once, very briefly, a nun.
She studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College, University of London where she hennaed her hair, wore dungarees and aspired to be the fourth member of Bananarama. After graduating she foolishly got a proper job, and for ten years had a successful if uninspiring career in local government before a car accident left her unable to work full-time and was the kick up the butt she needed to start writing seriously.
It was all going well, but then in 2012 she got cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept her up all night, she passed the time writing and the eventual result was her debut novel The Keeper of Lost Things. Since then she has published two further novels, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes and Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, and for her fourth, Madame Burova, she learnt to read Tarot cards and developed a hankering for a traditional vardo and pony.
She is now living the dream (and occasionally nightmare!) as a full-time writer in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and her long-suffering husband. She describes herself as a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan. She still loves seaside piers, particularly The Palace Pier at Brighton and would very much like a full-size galloping horses carousel in her back garden.
Over to Ruth:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Heroes by David Bowie – It’s my go-to song when I need to lift my spirits
The entire soundtrack from the film Edward Scissorhands because it’s completely magical
I Am What I Am sung by John Barrowman – The lyrics tell you to be true to yourself which is something always worth remembering
The prelude to Act 1 of La Traviata by Verdi simply because it is beautiful
Wings by Birdy – It’s a truly haunting song and I want to go and live in the world portrayed in the official video!
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Stop trying to please everyone else and think about what it is you truly want
Don’t perm your hair
Believe in yourself – you’re better than you think you are
Take every opportunity that comes your way
Don’t worry so much – it doesn’t help – and everything will turn out to be amazing in the end
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I have hyperextensive elbows
I was born lefthanded but injured my left hand when I was a child and so swapped to writing with my right hand. I still do many things lefthanded
I was goalkeeper in the school lacrosse team and hated it
I used to play violin
I have a phobia about potholing
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
To travel on the Orient Express (preferably to Venice)
To visit Venice
To recreate the ‘Shall We Dance Scene’ from the film The King and I and play the part of Anna in that enormous dress
To have singing lessons
To go on the zip line at Penrhyn Slate Quarry – the longest in Europe and the fastest in the world
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Madame Burova – Tarot Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth on the Brighton seafront after fifty years.
Imelda Burova has spent a lifetime keeping other people’s secrets and her silence has come at a price. She has seen the lovers and the liars, the angels and the devils, the dreamers and the fools. Her cards had unmasked them all and her cards never lied. But Madame Burova is weary of other people’s lives, their ghosts from the past and other people’s secrets, she needs rest and a little piece of life for herself. Before that, however, she has to fulfill a promise made a long time ago. She holds two brown envelopes in her hand, and she has to deliver them.
In London, it is time for another woman to make a fresh start. Billie has lost her university job, her marriage, and her place in the world when she discovers something that leaves her very identity in question. Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail which might just lead right to Madame Burova’s door.
In a story spanning over fifty years, Ruth Hogan conjures a magical world of 1970s holiday camps and seaside entertainers, eccentrics, heroes and villains, the lost and the found. Young people, with their lives before them, make choices which echo down the years. And a wall of death rider is part of a love story which will last through time.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning.
Now an adult, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda returns to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all …
Mothers and daughters … their story can be complicated … but it can also turn out to have a happy ending.
The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes
Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha’s life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town’s lido.
Then a chance encounter with two extraordinary women – the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl turned magician’s wife turned seventy-something roller disco fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice – opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again. But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back …
The Keeper of Lost Things
Meet the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’…
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…