Q&A: Ryley Reads interviews Ruth Ware

As part of the Woman in Cabin 10 blog tour, Ryley Reads had the opportunity to interview New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware. Below is the end result of their interview, and gives you an in-depth “behind the book” read of her latest thriller novel. The original post can be found here on Ryley’s blog, along with her great review!

A luxury boat is such a unique and interesting setting for a story, especially one where a mysterious crime takes place. Why did you choose to write the story in this setting and what does it lend to the story that a typical ‘land’ setting doesn’t?

I think a large part of it was that I was writing the book at the same time In a Dark, Dark Wood was coming out, and so many of the reviews made reference to Agatha Christie and her famous closed room murders. It got me thinking about her amazing settings – like the dahabiya on the Nile in Death on the Nile and of course most famously Murder on the Orient Express. A cruise has some of the same ingredients in that it’s a beautiful, luxurious setting – but you can’t get away.

How did you come up with the storyline for this book? Was it based on a real event that you had heard about, or was it more of a fictitious account of something that could have happened?

The plot itself is completely fictional. The first scene that came to me was the one where Lo is lying asleep in bed and hears the veranda door sliding stealthily back, followed by a splash. From that point onwards I knew I had to work out what had happened… and why.
But the legal grey area surrounding cruise ships and deaths at sea is unfortunately very real, and I have read accounts of some really tragic disappearances at sea that were never solved. They didn’t feed into the main plot, but the idea that someone could go missing at sea without any explanation is unfortunately based in reality.

This is your second novel, still a mystery/thriller but obviously a very different story. What did you learn from writing your debut that you applied to the writing of this novel?

Um… gosh, that’s a question I’ve never been asked before! I don’t honestly know. I’m sure I did learn stuff – I mean I hope I did. As a writer you always hope you’re improving and growing with each book. But I don’t really analyse my writing in that way – it comes from quite an instinctive place for me. I guess it’s a little bit like cooking? You get better at tasting and more practiced at using certain techniques, but it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what you’ve learned.

And finally, while I enjoyed the ending, I’ve seen others wanting a more cut and dry option. What made you leave the ending a little more ambiguous?

I don’t think the ending is that ambiguous – if you go back over what happened in the preceding chapters the clues are there to explain what happened. However I do appreciate it’s not exactly spelled out – and there’s still uncertainty over what happens after the final page. Personally as a reader I like that – life very rarely wraps things up in a neat bow, and so it always feels pat and unrealistic to me when books manage to tie up every single story line in a conclusion. Of course it’s annoying when a book poses a question and then doesn’t answer it – but I think the answers to all Lo’s questions are there, if you look for them. The question over what happens next is something else of course – and I do agree that’s not answered. Personally I like open ended books. I hope the reader will decide for themselves!


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