Journalist Ruth Brown’s sister Jane is pronounced dead after a boating accident in April 1942. Because Jane’s body is missing, Ruth is convinced her sister is still alive and follows clues to war-torn London. By the time she uncovers the truth about Jane’s disappearance, she has stumbled on black marketers, resistance fighters and the IRA – all of whom may want her dead for what she has discovered.
We’re excited to be sitting down today with Ruth Brown. It’s such a pleasure to meet you and hear about you and your book, Under Fire.
Right or left-handed: Right
Parents: Mel and Deborah Brown
Siblings: Younger sister Jane
Younger Brother Chip
Favorite Color: Turquoise
Favorite Actor: William Powell, I love his sassiness
Hobbies: Kayaking, Hiking, Snow shoeing.
Home town: Hazelton Falls, NH
Job: Reporter for The Gazette
Novel PASTimes: Tell us about your best friend, and what would she say about you?
Ruth: My very best friend is Varis Gladstone. We met in the nursery at church when we were just babies! I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s no bigger than a minute and really sweet, but strong-willed, and she has amazing faith. She’s beautiful, too and a real fashion plate. (Looks off into space). What would Varis say about me? Hmmm. She accepts me as I am, but she would probably say that I’m too curious and impetuous for my own good. She’s had to help me out of more than a few scrapes. (Laughs) But isn’t that what friends are for?
Novel PASTimes: What person do you most admire?
Ruth: That’s an easy one-Nellie Bly. No matter what it took, she got to the bottom of the story. Did you know that she went undercover in an insane asylum as a mental patient to unearth the fact that conditions were appalling? I want to be just like her-reporting the truth and bringing news to the public.
Novel PASTimes: What makes you happy?
Ruth: Being outside. Nothing brings me greater joy than to be in the woods or on the lake under a crystal clear blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.
Novel PASTimes: What makes you angry?
Ruth: Injustice and sneakiness are a tie.
Novel PASTimes: What is your greatest accomplishment? Being taken seriously as a journalist. When I first started working for the newspaper, Mr. Isaacs only let me work on the society pages and fluff pieces, but I exposed some corruption in the school board, and when it came time to follow clues about Jane to London, he signed me up with the AP.
Novel PASTimes: Speaking of London, you experienced some terrible things over there. How has that changed you?
Ruth: It has been awful. Bombing raids and the constant fear of invasion creates unending tension which makes it difficult to sleep, so everyone is exhausted. And there is such deprivation. The Land Army is running the farms, but in the city we eat a lot of tinned food. I can’t tell you the last time I saw an orange or an onion. I no longer take my safety or my food for granted. I thank God every day I am still alive and have something to eat. I also live in the moment, because you never know when it’s going to be your last. Relationships also are more precious. (shakes her head) I’ve seen some awful things I will never forget.
Novel PASTimes: You spoke of rationing, and a great number of items are either rationed or not available. What is the one thing you are finding difficult to do without?
Ruth: Fresh vegetables! It is very rural where I live in New Hampshire, and everyone had a garden of some sort. My mom loved to grow flowers and vegetables, and a huge portion of our back yard was a garden even before Victory gardens were the thing to do. Her butter beans were the biggest, sweetest bean I’ve ever eaten. (rubs her stomach). I’m making myself hungry just thinking about them!
Novel PASTimes: You’ve been in England several months now. What is your favorite place?
Ruth: Any of the parks, but Hyde Park is probably my favorite. There are benches along Serpentine Lake, and I can sit and watch the water for hours. It’s very peaceful and somewhat reminiscent of home.
Novel PASTimes: If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?
Ruth: I wish I could be sweet like Varis. I am a candid person and sometimes that can seem abrasive. But I’m working on changing!
Novel PASTimes: Where would you like to go next with your career?
Ruth: Even though it has been difficult to live in a country devastated by war, I have loved my time in England. It is a beautiful country, and the people are gracious and stalwart. I’d love to stay as a foreign correspondent, although there are rumors that once the war is over there will be a trial, and it would be very good for my career to cover that.
Novel PASTimes: Totally different subject…what traits do you hope your future husband will have?
Ruth: (laughs) Well considering that I’m not in the market for a husband, that’s a tough question. But if I had to pick a couple I’d say that he had to accept that I want to work for a living. I don’t want to stay home as “the little lady.” I want to continue to pursue a career in journalism or writing. And of course he would have to be a believer in Christ. Everything else is gravy!
Novel PASTimes: Thanks for spending time with us today. If you’d like to help solve the mystery of Ruth’s sister’s disappearance, get her story on www.amazon.com /dp/163213408X/ or http://www.electiopublishing.com/index.php/bookstore#!/Under-Fire-Paperback/p/88329129
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, speaker, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a Trustee for the Wolfeboro Public Library. Active in her church, Linda serves as treasurer, usher, choir member, and Bible study leader.