R.L. Royle Interview
Posted by Michelle on February 14, 2008
Rebecca was born in Toronto, Canada in July 1982 but was raised – and still lives – in West Yorkshire, England. She has two published novels, and is taking a year out to travel before she writes her third.
Q. You have two published books at the moment, can you briefly tell us a little about them both.
A. Lucy’s Monster is a dark tale of an A-list celebrity couple’s fall from grace, with un-medicated schizophrenia and drug abuse playing major parts in the storyline. I experiment with my writing style with each novel and in Lucy’s Monster the reader and writer feature as characters themselves.
Eleven Terrible Months, my latest release, is a realistic ghost story. In 1998 a family of five moved into a haunted flat and lasted 11 months: two years later three of the five members write up their personal accounts of what happened to them during that time. It’s as warm and funny as it is scary.
Q. How long have you been writing, and how did it feel when you first saw your book published?
A. I have been writing novels continuously since I was seven years old. I still have each one, even when I used to think ‘said’ was spelt ‘sed’! I have always wanted to be a published author and seeing my work all bar-coded and professionally made for the first time was an emotional turning point for me… I stopped feeling like a good-for-nothing and thought ‘maybe dreams do come true if you want it enough’… it still hasn’t worked for the EuroMillions though.
Q. Where did you get the ideas/inspirations from?
A. I write about whatever I most want to read/find out about at the time and the story tends to grow from two main subjects. I enjoy experimenting with writing styles and creating something different.
Q. Aside form your own experiences, what extra research did you have to do? Is that something you enjoy?
A. The research into mental health for Lucy’s Monster was difficult at times but I still enjoyed it because I wanted to learn. The research for Eleven Terrible Months was easier because a lot of it was based on my own experiences. It depends on how willing the experts are to help and I faced a lot of red-tape when it came to researching young offenders institutions (which features within the account of one of the characters) but I got some great advice in the end!
Q. Are your characters based on people you know, or are they a combination of various traits?
A. Some are, some are totally fictionalised. Because Eleven Terrible Months is set in my locality (Yorkshire) and about a down-to-earth family, I was able to take a lot from people that I know. I also wanted to base this one around those I love because it’s a book that’s very personal to me and it felt right to include them or their experiences in it. I interviewed some friends about major storylines that were based around them and in other bits I fictionalised loved-ones’ experiences without telling them, so they’d read it then think ‘ey up! That’s about me, that is’… in a good way!
Q. How about the ‘celebrities’ in Lucy’s Monster.. are they based on anyone?
A. They are!!! But when people tell me who they picture playing the parts of the three major characters in a film, it’s never the same as who I originally modelled them on! Who are they…? I’ll tell you if you tell me who you think!
Q. What prompted setting up your own publishing company.. do you enjoy it?
A. When I finished Lucy’s Monster, I was planning on sending out details to publishers until a man I worked with said: ‘why don’t you just do it yourself? It’s only marketing.’ I have worked in marketing for eight years and did quite well for the companies I was working for so I thought ‘well if I can sell refrigeration then surely I can sell something I feel so passionately about,’ and bought a stack of books to see if it really was that simple… it was! So I did six-months worth of research then set up Dog Horn Publishing and never ended up approaching an outside publisher. I love the creative freedom I get with being in charge of my own books but the long hours can be tiring. I’ve been doing this (along with a full time job) since March 2004 and am now looking forward to moving onwards-and-upwards and letting somebody else do the business side of things.
Q. Your books are limited editions, with E11even Terrible Months being a gorgeous hardback. Can you share what was behind this decision?
A. Money, space and time constraints mainly, but releasing limited editions has worked in my favour with the collectors market because when I do become a famous author these ones I’ve done myself will be quite valuable. I say ‘when’ and not ‘if’ because it’s my calling and if you don’t believe in yourself then who else will?
Q. With regards E11even Terrible Months, do you think readers can still enjoy the book if you don’t believe in ghosts?
A. Absolutely. One of the characters is very sceptical and acts as the sceptics ‘voice of reason’, for those that don’t believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits. The book’s not just about ghosts – it’s also about family life, teenagers growing up and the general thoughts of three very normal people, who were thrown into this extraordinary situation. This could be YOUR family and it could happen to YOU in your next house, whether you believe or not! That’s what I think is so scary about it; it could happen to any of us.
Q. So where are you going next, what else do you have planned?
A. I am taking a year out to go travelling and then writing my third novel for release, which I have pretty much already written in my head. As for Dog Horn, I am handing the business over in February 2008 so I can concentrate fully on my writing from now on. I am very proud of my little publishing house and the way I broke into the industry but Dog Horn’s too small to take my work to the levels I want to achieve and it’s time to really get this thing on the road! I now have an agent in New York who deals with everything outside of the UK Commonwealth so fingers crossed for overseas success too. Watch this space and remember my name, because I’ll never stop writing and one day I know I’ll get there. Like the British winter weather, ‘I can feel it in mi bones’!
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