Monday, 20 May 2013

Interview with Bee Ridgway - Author of the River of No Return


I'm delighted to welcome Bee Ridgway to Today I'm Reading. Bee's debut novel 'The River of No Return' will be published on Thursday. Look out for our review coming, which is coming soon

  Please tell us a little about yourself

 Well, I never thought I would be a novelist, but then two years ago I found myself bashing out this big time-travel adventure novel.  I kept it a huge secret from almost everyone until after it had sold, but when I finally did tell my friends and family they didn’t seem surprised.  Apparently everyone else knew I was a novelist, and I didn’t!  I was born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts, in the 1970s. It’s a small college town surrounded (then) by farmland.  In my twenties and early thirties I spent several years living in the UK, which I came to know fairly intimately because I found true love over there and brought it back with me to the States.  Now I’m an English professor at Bryn Mawr College, a small, all-women’s college in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   THE RIVER OF NO RETURN has turned my life upside down in the most delightful way, and I’m having more fun than I ever imagined possible.
Please tell us about ‘The River of No Return’ and your inspiration for the book
My working title for THE RIVER OF NO RETURN was “As I Like It.”  I wrote it to have everything that I like in a fun, page-turner of a novel.   It’s got time travel, romance, secret societies, spies, mystery, comedy, adventure . . . it’s like dessert for dinner.  A man named Nick Falcott, an aristocrat and a soldier,  jumps forward in time two hundred years from a Napoleonic battlefield at the moment that he is about to be killed.  He is met by an organization called the Guild, a brotherhood that controls time travel.  They tell him that he can never go home again . . . but as the plot unfolds it becomes clear that the Guild is lying to him.  When Nick makes it back to Regency London, he finds that a global conspiracy is threatening the future of the future itself.  Together with Julia Percy, a girl he thought he had lost forever when he jumped forward in time, he begins to unravel the truth about the Guild, and to realize that he, and the woman he is beginning to love, are in more danger than they ever dreamed possible. 

My inspiration came as a bolt from the blue.  I was in Vermont in a house built in the 1790s.  I was looking out the window at a moonlit pond and thinking about how incredibly old the house was, but how much more incredibly old the trees were that went into building it – the floorboards were over a foot wide.  All of a sudden Nick was in my head.  He was a time traveller from Georgian England, stuck in the present-day United States, in this very house, trying to make sense of his new life.  He gets a letter from The Guild, but he doesn’t want to open it, because he knows they are going to ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do . . .
I didn’t know what happened next, but Nick did.  He led me through writing the novel, scene by scene.  Sometimes I feel as if he was really the writer, and I was just a medium.
What are you working on now?
The next book!  THE RIVER OF NO RETURN ends on half a cliffhanger.  The love story is resolved, but there are many things about the universe I’ve invented that are left unanswered.  I’m roaring ahead on the sequel and it’s ridiculously fun.
What was your journey to publication like?
Basically I think I used up a lifetime’s worth of luck just getting an agent.  Her name is Alexandra Machinist and she is a force of nature, absolutely a genius.   She accepted my novel right away, then worked with me very closely getting it ready to sell.   She had me write 100 more pages that really developed the Guild and their ancient enemy organization, the Ofan.  And she had me work on Julia, my female lead, and alter her character a bit.  It was absolutely fantastic working with someone who understands so completely how books are built.  I’ve taught literature now for years, and I’ve spent my life analysing novels in my scholarships and in the classroom, but working with someone to actually make a novel was revelatory.  She sold the novel simultaneously to Penguin in the UK and the US, so I gained two editors, an English one and an American one.  Alex and Denise are both incredibly talented, and I worked on a further revision with them, developing the historical aspects of the novel.   I absolutely adore revising and it was such a privilege to do so with the help of such a stellar team.
What do you like to do outside of writing? 
Is there an outside to writing?  I don’t think so!  But when I’m not actually tapping away at my kepboard I love to walk around Philadelphia, which is the perfect city for me.  It was founded in 1682, so it’s about as old as post-fire London.  It has a huge Georgian core -- block after block of gorgeous old brick houses, many of them crumbly and fally-downy.  It’s a neighborhoody city, with marvellous BYOB restaurants on every corner, farmers markets, little shops – and it’s an affordable city.  I live near the Italian Market and I’m a cook, so that’s wonderful and dangerous!  I’m house proud, and my little brick row house is my pride and joy.   And of course I read read read read read.
Thanks Bee!

You can find out more about Bee Ridgway and The River of No Return on Bee's website:



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