Profane and Sacred – the 5th Book Festival at Lourdes

Ruth HartleyApartheid, Books, Nuanced Thinking, photography, Politics, Reading, Reviews, Writing2 Comments

On Saturday the 30th of November, I will be taking part in the Lourdes Salon du Livre. It looks very interesting and they will be discussing self-publishing by independent authors like me! Do come and, if you can’t get to the book fair, please do read this post. I’ve cribbed an author interview from The New Statesman. I enjoy reading them and thought it was fun to pretend I’m the one being interviewed.

Here it is!

Ruth Hartley Author Interview

What’s your earliest memory?

A clipped green hedge and the terrible pain of abandonment. When my younger sister was born, I was left inside it. There may also have been a person and a house but all I remember is the hedge and misery. I was 2 years old. I was given a crayon and left to draw because my mother was busy with the new baby – that made me feel powerful. A pram in the garden and a white nanny all taller than me – that made me feel insignificant and cross.

Who are your heroes?

I have so many. Rica Hodgson, read her memoir – A Foot Soldier for Freedom. She rescued me when I was alone in London and was very generous. She was a South African freedom fighter and worked at Defence and Aid.

Also, my mother, grandmother, daughters are all amazing.  The world is full of heroes – ordinary amazing people. All my heroes have a sense of humour and are kind and idealist.

Rica is laughing.
Rica Hodgson at my wedding in 1969

Which books last changed your thinking?

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco – an intellectual murder mystery with no outcomes – a journey through layers of meaning and learning, faith and faithlessness, literature and destroyed libraries to find understanding through misunderstanding and errors.

The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman by Angela Carter – a journey through the reality of dreams and desires to the unreality of the physical world.

Beloved by Toni Morrison – a journey out of slavery when everything that makes you human has been taken from you – language, memories, children, parents, culture, country, and friendship.

They are all about different ways of thinking and being

Which political figure do you look up to?

Sam Gymiah and Louise Ellman. People of integrity who made difficult decisions and take risks on principle. There are quite a few these days.

Sam Gymiah

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

I don’t have any specialist knowledge.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I’m curious about how we’ll survive climate change and Brexit. I wonder if Brexit will end before climate change makes life impossible? I don’t however, want to live in another time and place. It was hard enough coping with this life. Its been worthwhile and it’s not over – that’s enough to go on with.

What TV show could you not live without?

I’m obsessive about news and news analysis and I love good drama with real characters in any genre.

Who would paint your portrait?

I’ve made several self-portraits. The best one was destroyed by my husband after our divorce. Some were done because I was too shy to ask anyone else to sit for me. Some were attempts to understand myself. I enjoy seeing myself age and change. I would be interested in what a painter would make of me. A photographer, Jurgen Zwingel made a very interesting portrait in which he overlaid my photo onto my life history as a journey through light and darkness. I am the 10th portrait in the Time Lapse series – thank you Jurgen! I love this portrait of myself.

What’s your theme tune?

Wayfaring Stranger – This is not the only one of course!

What’s currently bugging you?

Being too poor to help anyone else especially those I love.

What single thing would make your life better?

Getting my children’s story The Drought Witch read by children.

When were you happiest?

I’m happiest now

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

I would make and direct films and create visual stories that would be like symphonies.

Are we all doomed?

We will all die and eventually so will the planet earth which isn’t ours anyway. I don’t know if beauty and truth will die because I don’t know if they exist outside human consciousness. I’m not sure if human consciousness will die when humans end or if consciousness itself is bigger than humans and will carry on without us.

2 Comments on “Profane and Sacred – the 5th Book Festival at Lourdes”

  1. sigrid dooley

    Quick line after finishing your memoir very recently (J. stll reading it I think…) I found it a most readable and honest account of your experiences that first year in London. You certainly had some bad times and disappointments, but all of them are a convincing part of the reality you portray. All particularly interesting to me too, since I was there at the same time, in many of the same places, and similarly hard up, trying to cope with a baby/toddler, too little money, terrible housing etc. Pity we didn’t meet then!!!
    Anyway, see you soon, here/now! And look forward to reading the childrens’ story!
    sigrid

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