Resize text+=

Fanbase Press Interviews MJ Robotham on the Release of the Novel, ‘The Scandalous Life of Ruby Devereaux’

The following is an interview with author MJ Robotham regarding the release of the faux-memoir novel, The Scandalous Life of Ruby Devereaux, through publisher Aria. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Robotham about her creative process in bringing the world and characters to life on the page, what she hopes that readers may take away from the story, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of The Scandalous Life of Ruby Devereaux! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the premise of this story which spans nine decades?

MJ Robotham: Thank you! The book focuses on Ruby’s re-telling of her own life from age seventeen to ninety, and the years 1947 to 2021 – she begins as a fledgling writer very much wearing her heart on her sleeve, who is passionate, but flawed, and often impatient with men but endlessly enticed by them. Each of the twelve chapters represents a man in her life who has served to shape her in some way; there’s the first boyfriend, the abuser, the love of her life….and so on, though they are not all lovers. I won’t give too much away! Suffice it to say, Ruby has an extremely colorful life, in all manner of settings, from London to New York, Venice, Cold War Eastern Europe, and Vietnam, where she encounters affection, peril, and loss, inevitably learning some hard lessons along the way. She’s a survivor who bears some deep scars.

BD: What can you tell us about your creative process in bringing this evocative faux-memoir to life on the page, and, as a former journalist, how much, if any, of your own personal experiences influenced Ruby?

MJR: As a writer, I’ve wanted to create a faux memoir for some time, since reading William Boyd’s Sweet Caress. His rendering of the main character, Amory Clay, was so real that I ended up Googling her, only to find she was completely fictional. I thought it was so clever! I then set myself the target of crafting a character I could weave into the real annals of history, who had traveled through the vibrant decades of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. As a former newspaper and magazine journalist, I’ve always been addicted to papers and print, in how we view and absorb the world reflected in them; Ruby adores the printed page, but finds parts of her life pressed into black and white, having to live with the consequences of her own actions and the subsequent notoriety. Ruby’s travels also mirror my own favourite places to visit, Venice being my No.1 destination.

BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Ruby’s story may connect with and impact readers?

MJR: I’m hoping that readers will see some portion of themselves reflected in Ruby. To me, she is lovable and loving, talented and whip-smart, but also vulnerable, fickle, selfish, blinkered, and incorrigible, especially in her later years. Certainly, there are some traits I recognize in myself! Her story touches on events and decades that some readers will recall personally, global events that were relayed in the newspapers, in films and on the television – I grew up as a child of the 1970s glued to the TV. For others, it’s within recent enough history to resonate, or to have had an impact on parents’ lives, and therefore their own upbringing.

BD: What makes Aria the perfect home for The Scandalous Life of Ruby Devereaux?

MJR: Aria was enthusiastic about Ruby from the outset, and when an editor or a publisher ‘gets’ your beloved character, it’s not only a dream for any writer, but it follows through to the entire team, in marketing, publicity, and sales. That’s what has happened here – Aria and Bloomsbury teams on both sides of the Atlantic have taken Ruby to their hearts, in a way that makes my own sing.

BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?

MJR: In everyone’s view, Ruby is a one-off, but I’m very keen to tell the stories of women as they age, particularly those who don’t immediately shine, kept in the shadows for one reason or another. Having said that, every book needs to be enticing and have a level of excitement. I’m a huge fan of espionage fiction and so the next book is in the hands of a middle-aged female spy, set in my favourite era of the 1960s, and that has to feature clandestine meets in London’s vibrant Soho, covert activities coupled with the week’s shopping and a complicated home life. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about Maggie Flynn and her strange spy co-hort.

BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Scandalous Life of Ruby Devereaux and your other work?

MJR: You can reach me on Facebook (Mandy Robotham – Author), Instagram (robothammandy – though you will encounter my strange knitting passion alongside book talk on that platform), and Twitter/X (MandyRobothamUK/MJRobotham).

Happy reading, and I would love to hear what readers think of Ruby!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top