After graduating with a degree in theatre and a postgraduate diploma in public relations, Lydia Ruffles spent a decade working in corporate communications in between travels. She is a graduate of the acclaimed Faber Academy and lives in London. The Taste of Blue Light is her first novel.
Here's the blurb for The Taste of Blue Light
These are the things Lux knows: She is an artist. She is lucky. She is broken. These are the things she doesn't know: What happened over the summer. Why she ended up in hospital. Why her memories are etched in red. 'The nightmares tend to linger long after your screams have woken you up ...'
Desperate to uncover the truth, Lux's time is running out. If she cannot piece together the events of the summer and regain control of her fractured mind, she will be taken away from everything and everyone she holds dear. If her dreams don't swallow her first.
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
The first seed of the idea came from looking at Rothko paintings at Tate Modern while I was ill. Not recommended but the strange, hallucinatory experience I had set me on the path to discovering the story of The Taste of Blue Light. I started writing it months later around the time that I was diagnosed with a neurological condition, and wrote the first draft in three months in between migraines and MRIs.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write your book?
Nothing – I’m someone who reads the guide book on the way home from a trip rather than before so I loved discovering my own path through the process. I learned I had to switch off the moral ambivalence that some of us develop to cope with the world; I needed to realise the importance for myself rather than be told it before I started.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?
I don’t think I actually had a full on rage spiral. Someone gave me some tough feedback on my first draft that had me screaming into a pillow for a minute but I quickly realised they were right.
Best thing about writing your book?
Everything. I didn’t expect to enjoy all the collaboration that’s involved in making a novel a reality – I’m a massive control freak but it’s been amazing to work as part of a team on this.
And the worst?
Self-doubt – though the good news is that even if someone totally savages the book they won’t be saying anything I haven’t already said to myself at some point.
Go-to writing snacks?
I’m of the opinion that every meal that isn’t hummus is a wasted opportunity so usually that, eaten straight from the tub like a bear (a bear who can use a spoon).
Who or what inspires you to write?
I’m a big fan of art eating art. Often my ideas are cemented by looking at visual art or a feeling I get from a certain song. Travelling is a big source of inspiration to me – I’ve written everywhere from a B&B in Essex to an underground capsule hotel in Japan. I think of all these things as ways of unlocking ideas that are already in me.
The book that changed you?
Every book I read changes me a little but one that will always stay with me is The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides – the writing is luminous and it captures so many interesting things about myth and memory, longing, gender, and adolescence.
Your pump up song?
I make a new playlist for each project but there’s usually one song that really sticks; for The Taste of Blue Light it was 'Marz' by John Grant.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be?
Louise O’Neill – she seems interesting and thoughtful, her writing is extraordinary, and she’s so generous in supporting other writers, including me.
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?
Don’t be put off by people telling you you’ve got to write every day or get up at 5am to write naked under the stars to be a proper writer – do it your way, prioritise and practise. If I can cheat and give a second piece of advice, it would be to push yourself to be as honest and human as you can – I think that’s how you connect with readers a.k.a other humans!
Lydia is reading at The Riff Raff writers' night on September 14. Buy tickets here >>