by Carolyn Lee Adams
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 14th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Contemporary, Mystery
A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.
Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.
When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup trick, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.
At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.
The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decides just how far she’ll go in order to survive.
Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book? --- I dreamt the first three chapters. Upon waking, I knew I had to write what I’d just dreamt, even though I was in the middle of revisions on another novel. Ruthless definitely goes under the heading of a story that demanded to be told.
2. Who is your favorite character in the book? --- Creepily enough, my favorite character is Wolfman. He is a villain and a terrifying person, but I feel for him. He’s inspired by a handful of real life serial killers who suffered extreme abuse in their childhoods. I find that so tragic – monsters who were made, not born.
3. Which came first, the title or the novel? --- The novel. By a lot. My agent, Mandy Hubbard, came up with the title. I am a stand-up comic, and a comedian friend of mine named Tom Peters has a joke about how so many book titles boil down to “The Adjective Noun.” When I heard that joke I thought, “Uh-oh.” I’d totally titled my book The Adjective Noun. It was “The Ruthless Ginger.” Ugh, seeing that old title makes me cringe! So when Mandy suggested Ruthless I was like, “YES. YES, PLEASE. LET’S DO THAT IMMEDIATELY.” I am not that great with titles, generally speaking.
4. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why? --- My favorite scene is when Ruth floats down river under the stars, singing “O Holy Night.” I don’t plot my books. They just happen as I write them. To me, that scene is an example of automatic writing at its best – unpredictable, just weird enough to be true, beautiful and odd. In other words, like real life. It also speaks to the heart of the novel, which is ultimately about redemption and recovery.
5. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now? --- Ummm, how to construct a sentence? I wish I was being facetious. I slept through Language Arts when I was a kid. I mean that literally. I’d stay up incredibly late reading and then I couldn’t stay awake in school. If I’d paid closer attention in Language Arts I could tell you whether or not that’s ironic. As it is, I don’t really know. Halfway kidding aside, the English language and its proper construction is something I’ve found difficult. I am at heart a storyteller. When I perform stand-up comedy I largely do narrative comedy. Some things always came easily to me – dialogue, memorable imagery, strong characters. But the method of conveyance, the actual writing-down-the-words-in-a-way-that-makes-sense part, that took some doing.
6. What do you like most about the cover of the book? The high contrast between the yellow and the black. It’s nature’s way of saying CAUTION. Initially, Simon & Schuster put the cover in a beautiful monochromatic silver. It was lovely, but I really wanted people to see that cover from the far side of the bookstore, so I suggested yellow. So, the cover went from understated and classy to smack-you-across-the-face contrast. I think that contrast suits the tone of the novel very well.
7. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2015? My girl Dawn Ius’s book Anne & Henry! Not only is it a gorgeous, lush take on Anne Boleyn, Dawn is one of my favorite people on earth and it’s an honor and a privilege to debut in the same year with her. Both of our books are from Simon Pulse, no less! But seriously, buy Anne & Henry. September 1st. All the cool kids are doing it.
8. What was your favorite book in 2014? --- Can we pretend you just asked me to recommend ANOTHER 2015 debut? Awesome, let’s do that! (Revisionist history for the win!) I’d strongly recommend We All Looked Up, by Tommy Wallach. That’s a book that deserves the hype. In my personal opinion, it is rare that a man writes female characters so compellingly. Seriously, Tommy Wallach nails female interiority like a boss. I also have a fascination with the apocalypse, so this book was a great fit for me. I loved it.
9. What’s up next for you? --- I am working on The Book of Ezra, which is actually the book I was revising when Ruthless came knocking. Ezra is my favorite thing I’ve ever written. It is hugely ambitious and it’s kind of like riding a wild bronc. It keeps bucking me off and then I climb back on and try to make it to the eight second mark. In that way it is the exact opposite of Ruthless. Ruth was a very easy child. She came right along. Ezra has been a bear, but I love him very much. He is a kind, humble hero and I really hope the world meets him one day.
10. Is there anything that you would like to add? --- If you want to write, or paint, or do stand-up comedy, or become a photographer or a poet, or pursue whatever form of art that speaks to you, here are three things. Firstly, there are no short cuts. You have to learn the rules. Perform within them. Understand them. This can take a very long time. It can be very constraining and very boring and there will be times when you won’t like it at all and you’ll feel it’s all very unnecessary. Secondly, once you learn all those rules and can work within them and understand them, commence to breaking them and doing whatever you want. This is the only way to get great, but you have to get good before you can get great. Thirdly, know that success is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. Those two ingredients are necessary and false success is a terrible burden to bear. Think bald Britney beating up a car with an umbrella. (Although to be fair, I don’t think anybody can be prepared for the level of fame/”success” she endured.) But something doesn’t have to be dramatic and public to be difficult. Point is – have patience with the process. Time is precious. Use it to prepare, to get great. When you’re ready, the world will be ready for you. Have faith in that.
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Carolyn Lee Adams is originally from the Seattle area, breeding ground of serial killers and those who write about them. She attended USC Film School and graduated with a BFA in screenwriting. RUTHLESS (Simon Pulse, Summer 2015) is her first novel. When she isn't exploring the dark side of human nature in her writing, you'll find her on stage as a stand-up comedian. Because those things go together.