An interview with Ruth Ware

Ruth Ware talks about homicidal hen nights and the inspiration behind her novel, In A Dark Dark Wood

Ruth Ware
Copyright: Nick Tucker

What (or indeed who!) was the inspiration behind In A Dark, Dark Wood?

Murder on a hen night just feels like one of those stories crying out to be written – in fact I’m really surprised it hasn’t been done a million times already. It’s the perfect set up – a group of people who don’t know each other very well, shut up for an indeterminate length of time in a situation designed to put everyone on edge.

I think most women can probably identify with that feeling of being stuck in a hotel / Center Parc / log cabin / nightclub with a bunch of comparative strangers and thinking ‘oh my God, who are these people?’ Given the amount of alcohol and stress involved, in a way it’s surprising that more of them don’t end in homicide!

Do you have any real life horrendous hen-do or wedding stories?

Luckily none of my own – my hen night was pretty staid although we did go to a chocolate making class, and a friend insisted on piping chocolate ganache penises, but that was the worst that happened. However as you can imagine, since writing the book I’ve built up quite a fund of horror stories.

If you could meet any other crime and thriller writer, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I’m a huge classic crime geek so I’m torn between Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Arthur Conan Doyle and Josephine Tey. Out of all of them, Sayers is my favourite writer but I think she would probably think I was very shallow, and I’ve got a horrible feeling Arthur Conan Doyle might be more interested in talking about fairies and the afterlife, rather than Holmes, so it would have to be Agatha Christie or Josephine Tey.

Although I love Tey (Brat Farrar is one of my desert island books) I think I’ve got to say Christie. If I ever wrote a book as masterfully plotted as And Then There Were None I would be very happy, and although I would not be rude enough to quiz her about what really happened in Harrogate, perhaps after nearly 90 years she would be ready to talk about it.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more