I first met Louise Rule amongst a host of Roman fiction aficionados through my friend, writer SJA Turney. We had a shared interest in history and Louise was about to take a step into my world, the world of the indie writer. I didn’t know what she had been writing, what she planned to release and when I found out, it took my breath away.
Louise has written an account of her journey through the one thing we never want to experience as parents – the loss of a child. What makes this story even more poignant is that Louise, her family and her then 20 year old son, had exactly 49 days from the moment her son found out he was ill until the day he died.
I asked Louise if she would talk with me on the blog and she kindly agreed. Louise, welcome…
Thank you Prue, for the opportunity to talk about my book Future Confronted.
1. The story of your son, your loss – how hard was it to write, Louise?
It was very difficult. As you can imagine, reliving all the events over those 49 days was very traumatic, but it was also cathartic in its own way.
2.Why do you think it is a story worth telling?
The story, Rob’s story, our story, is worth telling because it not only shows how Rob’s illness changed all our lives; it shows the events in its intimate detail. If anyone has gone through a similar event and are struggling with it, I hope the telling of Rob’s story helps them know that they are not alone, and they will come out on the other side, eventually.
3. Did the writing of it change you at all?
Absolutely Prue, I feel stronger because of the telling. Although it has been 16 years since Rob died, I still have some really low days; I don’t think that will ever change, but I do bounce back more quickly. The reason is this – since writing the book, it made me realise just how Rob dealt with the daily changes in his life. He showed nothing but dignity, even when he started losing his sight, and his memory. He was and still is an inspiration to us all.
4. Was there a time at all during the writing, where you thought ‘No, I can’t do this and I don’t want to invite the world in.’? And if so, what was it that pushed you on?
Ah … that is an insightful question. Many times, that is why it took so long to write. Sometimes I thought that the only reason I was writing Rob’s story was for my own comfort. The fact that his ashes are not scattered at a crematorium means that there is no dedication plaque for him. His ashes are scattered on top of Butser Hill in Hampshire, a special place for Rob and for us. I pushed on because writing this book was a way of making sure people knew Rob had been here, and perhaps they may draw encouragement and inspiration from his story.
5. Leaving the actual story aside, what made you decide to become an independent writer?
Many years ago I offered part of my manuscript to five different publishers. Weeks went by before I heard anything back from them. The remarks were the normal I guess. ‘Not what we are looking for at this time’ – ‘There’s no market for this type of story’ – ‘Our list is full, try again next year’ – you get the picture. My ego was bent out of shape. I doubted they had read a word of my manuscript.
When I was at university, 1999 – 2002, my creative writing tutor read the first few chapters. He told me that although he found it very moving, and thought it had potential in theory, he thought no publisher would ever take it up because of the subject matter. Well, that put the cap on it.
I then thought of ‘self-publishing’ but when I looked into the costs, I found them prohibitive. So for a time I stopped writing. Then, through Facebook friends I found out about KDP. What a revelation! Amazon had started Kindle Direct Publishing. I felt empowered.
I have read many great books which turned out to be written by independent authors, and enjoyed them thoroughly. In the past I think that the common consensus was that a self-published author was a second rate author simply because no publishing house would entertain them. This is just not so. For me the whole point of writing is for someone else to read your work. How you get your work out there is surely up to you. There are also publishers who help Indie Authors publish their books. I had not the confidence to upload my book myself, so I went with one of these companies. They have been absolutely brilliant.
6. Were you at all intimidated by the process?
Yes I was, very. I’m not a technical person, and so an author friend on Facebook, Paula Lofting, suggested going to an Independent Publisher that she knew well. We had a three-way PM chat, and the deal was struck.
7. What sort of services did you employ on your publication journey?
I erroneously thought that being an indie author, I would have to do everything myself. Facebook friends made suggestions about getting a beta reader, (I didn’t know what that was at first), a proof-reader, and an editor. And while I was at it, what about a book cover designer? So, with their suggestions in mind I set about finding the right people to help me.
Authors Ben Ken, Anthony Riches, and Russell Whitfield did their Romani Walk on Hadrian’s Wall earlier this year. They had a poster designed by Dave Slaney, it was so impressive, I bought a copy, the proceeds being donated to the walkers’ charity. Simon James Atkinson Turney had his latest book covers designed by Dave Slaney also. What better example could I have? So it was Dave Slaney that I went to for the design of my book cover.
The proof-reading was essential, and thank goodness for Paula Lofting, and Michelle Gent. Michelle was also my editor, and it is her company Gingernut Books – Publisher Ltd., that ultimately became my publishers. Everyone that I chose to help me with my book has been wonderful. I just could not have come to this point without any of them. They gave me the confidence to get to the finish-line. I have had so much encouragement, that I feel truly blessed.
8. Now that the book is in its first week of release, how do you feel?
I feel many emotions. I feel ecstatic because after 16 years I have finally accomplished what I set out to do. At the same time I feel sadness because of the subject. On the whole the sense of achievement that I feel is overwhelming, as I wrote the book to honour Rob, and to help anyone who has travelled the same road as we have.
9. Would you do it again? And if so, what is the next work – fiction or non-fiction?
Ah. Do it again? I found writing Rob’s story really difficult, and traumatic at times, but if I were in the same situation again, then yes, of course. Otherwise it is a subject that I would not want to visit again.
I have several stories pushing themselves forward to be written. I love history, so it’s going to be historical fiction. I love this genre, and the research that goes with it.
10. What does Louise Rule, private person, do each day to keep grounded?
Grounded… well it has to be family, they keep me grounded. Dave, my husband, and I have five grandsons. Two sets of boy twins, aged fourteen and seven, to our son Steven, and a singleton aged six to our son Martin. Also I think it is where we live. We live on a small island just off the south coast of Hampshire UK. It’s approximately five miles by five miles. Not far to walk in any direction to find the sea. I wouldn’t swap it for anything.
11. Finally, and most importantly, what would Rob think of his mum writing such a revelatory story?
I know that Rob would be proud of me, but embarrassed that he was the subject, I think.
I think he would be proud, Louise. The essence of Future Confronted is courage, dignity and an ability to see what shapes us as people. He would see that you had conveyed that in bucket loads. Thank you so much for talking with me and I wish you and the book all the very best…
Louise’s book can be found at :
http://bit.ly/1gGRvRZ (Book Depository)
http://bit.ly/18EYIlK (Gingernut Books)
and you can follow Louise’s blog for further news of her work.