Today’s Author in the Spotlight is Alison Ripley-Cubitt whose book Castles in the Air was published as an ebook on 25th November 2015. It will be available in paperback in March. You can order an e-copy here: Castle in the Air
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I’m a walker, horse rider and cyclist, lucky enough to live in the Hampshire countryside where I can indulge in my favourite pastimes. I was a Third Culture Kid who was born in Malaysia, went to school in England, moved with my family to New Zealand (the other place I call home) and worked in Australia. I had a career in film and tv production and worked at the BBC and Walt Disney, but always wanted to be a writer.
What inspired you to start writing?
We lived on a remote rubber estate in Malaya, where there were no pre-schools and it was my mum who taught me to read. At age three apparently I used to ‘read’ the newspaper, except it was upside down! I started writing what I suppose now would be fan fiction: only these were stories about all the girls in the pony books I began to devour. At age nine I came first in a writing competition and my story was displayed in the front window of the local bookshop in NZ. I thought I was the bees’ knees!
Tell me about your journey to publication?
I started out writing newspaper articles and then short stories. One of my short stories was a competition finalist in a literary magazine. I used this story and the articles as samples of my work to apply to do an MA in Screenwriting. I was accepted on the course and then wrote two screenplays, both of which were produced and published. My first commissioned book was a course book on screenwriting for Writing Magazine as by then I was their screenwriting columnist, a job I did for nine years.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Castles in the Air, my fifth book, is a memoir and is the story of my mother’s expat life, told from my point of view. It’s about mothers and daughters, secrets, love and longing in an era when women couldn’t have it all.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I’m working on the second book in the Stephen Connor thriller series, the title of which is Nighthawks. I co-write thrillers (with my husband Sean Cubitt) under the pen name Lambert Nagle. Set in Europe, the story explores the murky world of looted antiquities.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read so far this year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I was fascinated to read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, just to see how she rewrote it to become her masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. David Lagercrantz, who was given the unenviable job of writing the follow-up to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, did a superb job of The Girl in the Spider’s Web. My final favourite book of the year was the spy thriller Corruption of Power by George Eccles, a writer who started out as an indie, but who has now found a publisher for this, his second thriller. A superb storyteller, George writes vividly from first-hand experience about the independent countries of Central Asia that were once part of the Soviet Union.
What are you reading just now? (December 2015)
I always have more than one book on the go as I work as a reviewer, as well as read for pleasure. On our recent annual holiday, we went to Costa Rica and I took with me Piers Alexander’s The Bitter Trade, although set in London, is about a coffee racketeer.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
My favourite place to read is on the train up to London, as the wi-fi is unreliable and without that as a distraction, I can really concentrate. I read for review on Kindle but like to buy signed copies of paperbacks from indie authors, from my favourite independent bookshop, Barton’s in Leatherhead.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I went to boarding school as a young child because where we lived was so isolated, and I always wanted to be Alice. My imagination sustained me at school and I wished more than anything that I too could disappear down a rabbit hole, leave the school behind, and go on adventures like Alice does.