Three new books take a lifetime to write

Ruth HartleyThe Love and Wisdom Crimes, The Spiral-Bound Notebooks, When I Was BadLeave a Comment

My book launch at La Litote

Lancement des livres à La Litote

Last Friday, I launched, at the wonderful book shop, La Litote, my three new books which took a lifetime to write. I had been invited by the generosity of Nathalie Curiel, the owner of La Litote. It was a lovely evening, well attended and really worthwhile for me.

I am very indebted to Nathalie, to John, my husband, who encourages and supports me, to Magali Charron who was there to translate for me and to Tia Azulay who read excerpts and poems from my books.

Thank you also to all the people who came, both old friends and new readers. I look forward to hearing from you about my stories. I do believe that my books are about people and places that will be new to most readers.

Vendredi dernier, j’ai lancé, à la merveilleuse librairie La Litote, mes trois nouveaux livres qui ont mis toute une vie à écrire. J’avais été invité par la générosité de Nathalie Curiel, propriétaire de La Litote. Ce fut une belle soirée, bien remplie et très intéressante pour moi.

Je suis très redevable à Nathalie, à John, mon mari, qui m’encourage et me soutient, à Magali Charron qui était là pour traduire pour moi et à Tia Azulay qui a lu des extraits et des poèmes de mes livres.

Merci aussi à tous ceux qui sont venus, anciens amis et nouveaux lecteurs.J’ai hâte de vous entendre parler de mes histoires. Je crois que mes livres parlent de gens et d’endroits qui seront nouveaux pour la plupart des lecteurs.

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Whispering Stories’ Stacey Garrity interviews Ruth Hartley

Ruth HartleyBooks, Interview, Reading, The Love and Wisdom Crimes, The Spiral-Bound Notebooks, When I Was Bad, Writing ProcessLeave a Comment

Interview image from Whispering Stories, used with permission

On 26th September, I was delighted to be interviewed by Stacey Garrity of Whispering Stories. I enjoyed considering and answering her careful questions. They covered things like my favourite authors, daily writing routine, the book publishing process, etc.

Great timing

It was the day before my latest book launch so I was really pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the three books I was launching. They are: The Love and Wisdom Crimes, The Spiral-Bound Notebooks and When I Was Bad. I published all of these in 2019, although, as I explained in the interview, they had been 54 years in the making! (The book launch took place yesterday evening at La Litote, Vic-en-Bigorre, France. It was a great success. I’ll blog about that soon.)

I answered 12 “serious” questions and 6 “fun” questions. It’s a good format because it ends on a light note, even though the fun answers contain some perfectly serious insights!

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Stories and books are what make us human

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Books, Film, Reading, Storytelling, Writing, Writing Process1 Comment

The importance of books

This Saturday, I’m at the Au’Tour du Livre book festival in the nearby town of Vic en Bigorre behind a table loaded with my books. I’ll be hoping for readers and I’ll be talking to writers I know.

Last weekend I spent magic moments hunting through boxes of second-hand books at the Amis des Animaux fete.

The books I chose are taking me on time-travelling journeys that connect me with writers, readers, friends, family, places, and stories.

The endurance of books

I brought home books that are curiosities and gems. Each book I found is a link that leads me into the future and takes me back to the past. Each book opens experiences as many-layered as an onion.

Books into films

John Thaw: The Biography takes me to Doris Lessing’s first novel and the trailer for the film of The Grass is Singing which is an extraordinary, controversial and misunderstood story. It was made into a film in Zambia in 1981. John Thaw was praised for playing the lead. He said it was hell making it. I was employed to find locations, costumes and to cast minor characters for that film so I met all the stars. John Thaw was pissed off with me because I had to tell him to sunbathe with a shirt on so he’d look like an authentic white farmer. That’s an experience I’ll be turning into a short and exciting memoir.

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Book Festival and my Book Launch

Ruth HartleyBooks, illustration, Promotion, Publication, Reading, Reviews, The Love and Wisdom Crimes, The Shaping of Water, The Spiral-Bound Notebooks, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, When I Was Bad, WritingLeave a Comment

I’m promoting the three books I’ve published this year

The Love and Wisdom Crimes is a novel based on real experiences. In it Jane returns to South Africa as apartheid ends to unlock the secrets of her past as a young political activist in a police state.

My collection of poetry, The Spiral-bound Notebooks contains my early poems that form the foundations of both my novel and my memoir.

That book, When I Was Bad, is the raw account of my escape from South Africa to London, as the unmarried mother of a mixed-race child.


I’ll be at the following three events: –

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Going back to books – it’s that time of year

Ruth HartleyBooks, Writing2 Comments

The great winter return to books, to reading, and to writing

Autumn can be a sad time. The warm sunny days are over, the evenings are closing in and another year has gone – but – I can at last hide myself away. I can write all morning, read all afternoon and spend the evenings immersed in TV dramas. Indulgence and delight lie ahead first in front of my computer, and then by the wood fire in our cosy sitting room

The Booker Prize and la rentrée littéraire 2019

The Booker Prize shortlist is out – four exciting new writers and two of my favourite – and controversial old ones. Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte are on the list. All the writers are engaged with the problems of contemporary life – Lucy Ellman experimenting with literary form in Ducks, Newburyport. I personally am keen to read Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo but the other two writers, Chigozie Obioma and Elif Shafak sound really interesting too.

Here in France, it is the time of La Rentrée Littéraire when literature is celebrated and I think of the many French writers who I love from Georges Simenon, Sartre, De Beauvoir, Dumas and Hugo, and Houellebecq – all read in translation I have to admit. Its quicker that way and I have so many books on my To-Be-Read pile. It is also the time when schools start again and its the time of year for literary prizes like the Prix Goncourt – one is even chosen by school children. It’s the time that new books are launched on the market and it’s the time for Book Festivals. I plan to participate in two book festivals this year, to launch my three new books, and you, my readers, are all invited to all of them!

Autour du Livre: The Vic en Bigorre Literary Festival

Yes – Autour du Livre may be a small and local affair but I’ll be there once again and so too, will be Nick Inman with his brilliant travel guides and Clara Villanueva with her two novels, I, Carmela and Les cheveux de la gitane and Our readers are invited to come and meet us and the many local writers, historians, and illustrators. It’s a pleasant way to spend some hours – there will be music and food and people ready to talk about reading, writing, and books. It’s fun and it deserves your support.

La Litote and Independent Bookshops

Anyone who loves to read or to write is deeply indebted to those small independent bookshops devoted to keeping books and literature alive in your local community. One of the best is La Litote run by Nathalie Curiel The delightful La Litote (A litote is when one says less and more is understood – otherwise – it’s a negative that suggests a positive) a bookshop in Vic en Bigorre has a fabulous selection of children’s books, exceptional cards, graphic novels, local and travel information and the latest French novels. This month it will also have mine on display. Nathalie is kindly going to host the launch of my new books this month. I will be posting more about my launch next time.

Here is a poem about autumn –

Autumn Morning

When the alarm’s blood curdling cry
caesars open the womb of the bed,
I am born into the darkness of night.
When uncomfortable day squints
from its perch on the western street light
I open my ears and hear the sound
of car engines shifting in the direction of work.
When the sun, reluctant with excuses,
sticks its neck out of the east
I close up my dreams and make a late start
to yet another winter.