Never Greener is set in 1985 and 2002. I always love stories that do a big time leap where the past informs the present, where you find out what became of some characters years later. It’s a relationship story – about a woman who had an affair when she was in her early 20s which ended in heartbreak, and what happens when, 17 years later, she unexpectedly meets the same man again…
I originally wrote it as a screenplay . . . I thought ‘I wonder how it would work as a novel’
It’s about being given a second chance and whether that second chance should be taken or not. The book is called Never Greener because sometimes we are in danger of thinking ‘the grass is greener on the other side’; that if we’d made certain choices when we were younger, we would be in a better place or a happier place. Hopefully my book is saying that the grass is never greener on the other side – that what we have in the here and now is good and sometimes it’s better not to wonder about ‘what might have been’ and to concentrate on the ‘what is’.
I originally wrote it as a screenplay. When I first started writing I wrote a two-part drama called Never Greener and then a couple of years ago I went away to a health farm and I was looking through stuff that I’d written in the past and I came across it again. I thought ‘I wonder how it would work as a novel’ so just as an experiment I started adapting it to prose form from a script and I really enjoyed it. I would go off for a massage and then find I couldn’t wait to get back to my room to start writing more! It kind of went from there really.
I’ve certainly really enjoyed creating that world and I particularly enjoyed moving between two different timelines. I’ve loved it actually. I’ve absolutely loved it!
It became a much bigger story and in fact the screenplay that I originally wrote in 2004 was very different. The characters were a bit extreme and there was no light and shade there. Hopefully I’ve grown as a writer since I wrote the screenplay. I’ve certainly really enjoyed creating that world and I particularly enjoyed moving between two different timelines. I’ve loved it actually. I’ve absolutely loved it!
With TV-writing, you write scenes and those scenes pretty much stay as they are when you come to filming them. Sometimes you might change things on the day because of the location or the actors’ availability issues. Whereas with novel-writing you have to read it over and over again and every time I read it I find something that needs to be changed or that I don’t quite like. But then it has to be more complete because the final book is the final book, there’s no going back once that’s been printed. It’s very exciting! There’s just such a sense of completion about it. And also, you’ve got the physical book and there it is and that’s that – that’s your finished work.
I’ve also really enjoyed being able to go inside the heads of my characters – I don’t have that luxury when I’m writing scripts for TV. It’s just wonderful to be able to write about what my characters are thinking.
And on a very practical level you can write something and it might not be grammatically correct or you might be writing from one particular angle and it doesn’t really quite make sense but that’s why it’s so brilliant to have an editor! They can keep you along the right lines and say ‘What about this?’, ‘Do you think this might be slightly confusing?’. I think it’s a very different discipline but it’s one that I enjoy!
Never Greener, Ruth Jones’ debut novel is out on paperback on 30 May and her second book, Us Three, is out on 16 April 2020.