A Dog or a Fox? (Blog Tour: The Cost of Living by Rachel Ward)

I only returned to English soil a few hours ago (more on that later!) but I’m delighted to be back with a gorgeous guest post from Rachel Ward, who I’ve always been a huge fan of here at Writing from the Tub. Not only is she a wonderful writer but she’s an equally lovely person and I’m always delighted at the chance to gobble up a new book from her.

Her latest release is The Cost of Living, a sometimes-cosy, sometimes-edge of your seat mystery set in and around a local supermarket. It’s funny, charming and equally scary and disturbing in parts – the perfect book to curl up with as the nights start to draw in and there’s a chill in the air.

For today’s stop on The Cost of Living blog tour Rachel has swung by Writing from the Tub to share her thoughts on writing, creating and whether she’s a dog or a fox. 

‘You need to decide if you’re a dog or a fox,’ a friend recently said. ‘You either want crunchies in a bowl twice a day, or you’re happy to go to bed hungry some days and feast on ten chickens now and again.’

For twenty years or so after leaving university, I was very definitely the domestic sort of canine. I worked in a variety of jobs in local government, part-time after I had my two children. I liked my work for the most part, and never aspired to be self-employed … until I started writing. This happened on a whim. I used to listen to the afternoon play on Radio 4 when I was driving home to pick up my kids. I found myself wondering if I could write one, so I just started quietly one day and had a go. I sent the play into the BBC, who rejected it, quite rightly as it was rubbish. However, I’d got the writing bug and I carried on with short stories and books for younger children, all of which were rejected by everyone I sent them to. It was third time lucky with my YA thriller, Numbers, which was published by Chicken House in 2009.

Even though Numbers and its sequels sold well, I carried on with my day job for several years, not quite ready to forsake my twice daily crunchies for days of feast or famine. However, I took the plunge in 2012 with a year’s sabbatical, after which I didn’t go back.

This bold move coincided with my husband’s health declining. I counted myself lucky that I was writing at home as I had the flexibility to go with him to all his appointments. During this time, writing became my job and, in truth, I lost some of the joy of it. I’d also lost my hobby, the thing I did in my spare time for fun.

I had always thought I would try painting when I retired but in 2014, I metaphorically slapped myself round the head and asked, ‘What are you waiting for?’ Painting proved to be a brilliant way of combating stress, being a counterbalance to the brain-sapping effort of writing and the troubles of ‘real life.’

In 2015, I started writing something completely different. I had an idea that wouldn’t go away. Or rather I had two main characters that wouldn’t leave me alone. At first I thought they might fit in a YA novel, but when I started writing their story, it was clear that this was an adult book and it had a very different tone to my YA stuff.  It was also pure joy to write. I was lucky to find my agent, Kirsty McLachlan and then Sandstone Publishing.

So this year, it feels like I’m really starting over again. The Cost of Living is being published, and I really hope it is the start of a series – I’ve got ideas for several more plots. I’ve started selling paintings and greetings cards too.  It’s maybe not the most sensible thing to supplement one precarious way of living with a second equally precarious one. I haven’t ruled out getting some sort of day job to cover at least one bowl of crunchies a day, but not quite yet.

My husband is starting again, too, with a new heart and a slow return to work. Together we will keep the wolf from the door.

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About the book: 

After a young woman is brutally attacked on her way home from the local supermarket, checkout girl Bea is determined to find out who’s responsible. She enlists the help of Ant, the seemingly gormless new trainee – but can she really trust him? Customers and colleagues become suspects, secrets are uncovered, and while fear stalks the town, Bea risks losing the people she loves most.

About the author:

Rachel Ward is a best-selling writer for young adults. Her first book, Numbers, was published in 2009 and shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. An avid reader of detective fiction, The Cost of Living is her first book for adults. Rachel lives in Bath with her husband, and has two grown-up children.

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