Thrilled to welcome debut author, Catherine Adel West to the blog this week. Her eagerly-anticipated novel, Saving Ruby King, releases today.
Author Name: Catherine Adel West
Book Title: Saving Ruby King
Book Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Publisher: Park Row/HarperCollins
Hello, Catherine! Please tell us about Saving Ruby King.
Set in the South Side of Chicago, Saving Ruby King is an intimate portrait of two families, as well as an epic tale of courage, faith, race and redemption, and the lengths one girl will go to protect her friend when a murder upends their tight-knit church community.
What sparked the idea for your book?
I’d been writing short stories and told a college friend at a wedding about an idea for another short story and she said, “You should write a book!”. And yeah, I fell for that, thinking, “How hard could it be to write a book?” Turns out it’s super freakin’ hard.
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do have to do any research?
It took me five years (on and off) to write the rough draft and multiple developmental rewrites which took an additional nine or so months so about six years from the beginning to finding my literary agent.
There wasn’t a ton of research that went into learning about the black church or what life is like for black people in Chicago as I grew up in the black church and live my life in Chicago, so I used a lot of my experiences and those I’ve observed for a great deal of the inspiration for this book. In terms of other research, I conducted interviews and read books such as “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson.
How does your day job inform your novel writing?
I’m an editor so what I do is extremely helpful in how I write, craft prose and find silly little typos. Also, many of my coworkers are also writers so it was so easy to find beta readers and people to passionately critique my work.
For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
Getting started is the hardest thing for me. Going past those first four or so chapters and keeping a positive mental balance while doing it. I think many writers have a hard time believing they’re good at their craft so there’s so much inward negative self-talk it can be difficult to see what your story and what you as a creative have to offer.
And what do you love most about it?
I love moving past those negative self-thoughts, defeating those demons and being able to create something lasting and memorable for so many people. I love creating characters and writing scenes that emotionally move me. I love being part of something unforgettable!
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love to travel and came back from Rome a little over a year ago. That was fantastic! In the current climate, I haven’t had a chance to travel, but when appropriate I plan on going back to L.A. Also, I love listening to music. I don’t go to many concerts, but the ones I’ve gone to (Bon Iver, Mumford & Sons and Passenger, etc.) were unforgettable experiences!
Are you working on a new project?
I am working on the next book in the Saving Ruby King series. It fully rounds out two major characters in the book and I’m so excited to get this book to my readers!
Where can readers find you?
I’m very active on social media:
Thank you, Catherine! Saving Ruby King launches TODAY!
Family. Faith. Secrets. Everything in this world comes full circle.
When Ruby King’s mother is found murdered in their home in Chicago’s South Side, the police dismiss it as another act of violence in a black neighborhood. But for Ruby, it’s a devastating loss that leaves her on her own with her violent father. While she receives many condolences, her best friend, Layla, is the only one who understands how this puts Ruby in jeopardy.
Their closeness is tested when Layla’s father, the pastor of their church, demands that Layla stay away. But what is the price for turning a blind eye? In a relentless quest to save Ruby, Layla uncovers the murky loyalties and dangerous secrets that have bound their families together for generations. Only by facing this legacy of trauma head-on will Ruby be able to break free.
An unforgettable debut novel, Saving Ruby King is a powerful testament that history doesn’t determine the present and the bonds of friendship can forever shape the future.
Catherine Adel West is an editor living and working in Chicago. She graduated with both her Bachelors and Masters of Science in Journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Her work is published in Black Fox, Five2One, Better than Starbucks, Doors Ajar, 805 Lit + Art, The Helix Magazine, Lunch Ticket and Gay Magazine. Saving Ruby King is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @cawest329.