CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2021 – Interview with Ruth Ware

RUTH WARE is shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for her novel ONE BY ONE and in our third interview, we asked her a few questions about the novel and her writing.

How does it feel to be on the shortlist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger? 

It’s such an honour – I’ve never been up for a dagger before so I keep pinching myself!

If you could summarise ‘One by One’ in ten words, what would you say? 

A luxurious retreat in the French Alps ends in murder..

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first and in which ways has lock-down affected your writing process, if at all? 

I always know the ending – I think with crime that’s pretty much essential in order to play straight with the reader and lay sufficient breadcrumbs for them to have a chance at figuring out the solution. I know some writers who jump in without knowing anything, but I would find that too nerve-racking. What if I set up a crime I couldn’t solve? The rest is up for grabs though; part of the fun of writing, for me, is finding out what happens along the way.

Lockdown was a creative disaster for me – mainly to do with having a house full of family, with kids needing constant feeding and help with homeschooling., but also the whole experience gave me a kind of creative paralysis. However I think my subconscious was working overtime while I wasn’t writing, because I’ve come out of lockdown full of ideas.

Which thriller writers do you most admire? 

So many! I could write an essay just on this alone – but limiting myself to just five… Daphne du Maurier, Erin Kelly, Steph Cha, Lisa Jewell, Riley Sager. That misses off a whole slew of writers I LOVE though.

What makes a killer thriller? 

I wish I knew! I feel like every book I have to try to rediscover how to write. I just try to give myself the task of giving the reader a reason to turn the page. I think if you do that, page after page, you won’t go far wrong.

Photo by Gemma Day

The winner of the 2021 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award is announced on July 1st, stay tuned for the next shortlisted author interview with ROBERT GALBRAITH tomorrow.