Interview with Ruth O'Neill

Author of Tell Me Why

Ruth O’Neill grew up in the ancient Roman city of Bath England, a beautiful peaceful city whose locations are often referred to in her first book ‘Sunshine & Tears’.
Ruth has always enjoyed helping others and is very committed to her job as a Teaching Assistant for literacy, where she supports young people with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities at the City Academy Bristol.
Ruth has one son and two step children as well as three young grandchildren who now take up a big part of my life.
She lives in Bristol, the South West part of England with her long term partner.

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When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
  • I first realised I wanted to become a writer when my partner wrote a book as a tribute to his father’s journey to England as a refugee. He became very passionate about his writing and it made me think about a traumatic event that had happened in my life 23 years ago and I wanted to tell my story for my son. It became my first book Sunshine & Tears in 2015. Writing Sunshine & Tears was like therapy for me and helped me come to terms with what happened. Alcoholism is an under-estimated mental illness that is misunderstood by the population. There are no real resources available for sufferers and people are isolated as they struggle to overcome their addiction.

    Good reviews and feedback made me proud — I enjoyed writing so much I now wanted to write another story and thought this time it would be a thriller. I published my second book Befriended, a contemporary thriller, in 2018. Great reviews and feedback continued and writing was now becoming my hobby which I do every day after work.
What was the inspiration behind Tell Me Why ?
  • When I began writing Tell Me Why I wanted to write about a vendetta. I didn’t really know what sort of revenge I wanted to include in my story but I had a rough plan and structure in my mind. I researched different reasons why people needed to seek revenge and I found some very interesting facts. Usually a person who makes it their life aim to persecute another human being has dominant sadism personality traits, which explains why certain people are more likely to seek revenge than others. I also established that some people are motivated to seek revenge and to harm someone who has harmed them after they feel attacked, mistreated or socially rejected.
Where do you get your ideas from?
  • Some of my ideas come from real life experiences but in Tell Me Why there was a huge amount of information I had to gather. There is a court case so I had to research the correct procedure of a criminal trial. This can take a lot of time but you must have the right facts to make a book authentic. Also there is a short scene where Chinese torture is being used so I had to make sure this was delicately done and research the details of how it was done.
How long does it take you to write a book?
  • My first book Sunshine & Tears took 4 years to write as writing was new to me. My second book Befriended took me 2 years and my new release Tell me why was 18 months so I’m getting quicker all the time. I don’t tend to put a timeframe to my books I write for pleasure not pressure.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
  • I work as a Teaching Assistant for literacy in a secondary school and I start my day at 8 o’clock and finish at 3.30 so I’m pretty busy all day. I usually like to write for at least 2 hours a night which is usually between 7-9pm. At times I cannot manage this but I make sure I write everyday even if it’s only one paragraph.
What would you say is your writing quirk?
  • When I edit my work I read through my manuscript 30 times before I send it off to an editor. I’ve done this with all 3 of my books.
Have you ever gotten writer's block?
  • Yes I have and it's so frustrating. What I tend to do is give it space for a few days then return to a different scene in the book and usually my inspiration comes back.
If Tell Me Why were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
  • I think Dakota Johnson would be brilliant as protagonist Lauren Adams in Tell Me Why. I'd like Bradley Cooper to play opposite her as antagonist Max Davies. What a fantastic thought this is.
Tell us about your book Tell Me Why?
  • Tell Me Why starts with Kevin attempting to rescue Lauren. At this point readers will have no idea what the circumstances are that mean Lauren needs to be rescued. Then readers are taken back two years. Lauren goes away for a girl’s weekend with four of her best friends. The first night she is there she becomes lost. She falls upon a man Max Davies slumped over a body apparently trying to save him. Max gets accused of murder and Lauren testifies to help him. After this they become inseparable but things are not all they seem. Lauren hears Max building something in the basement — a basement he’s made clear is out of bounds. With her interest piqued she goes to investigate what Max has been doing down there. This is where her life will change forever.
Where next? What are you working on now?
  • I'm working on another thriller and the word count so far is 35,006. It has several twists and turns and I'm hoping it will be as successful if not more so than Tell Me Why.
Authors – click here to learn about Profile


Lauren Adams is just an ordinary single girl, until one split-second decision throws her life into crisis.
When she meets the handsome and intriguing Max Davies during a girls’ weekend away, she can’t believe her luck. But it soon turns out to be her biggest mistake.
Max gets accused of murder, a murder that allegedly happened on the same night he and Lauren met.
Is Max really the man she thinks he is? Is he really innocent of murder? And why does Lauren hear him late at night, building something in the basement – a basement he’s made clear is out of
Tell me why follows a woman who just wants to be loved, but who instead ends up in a tangled web of lies, deceit, and terror.
A chilling read you won’t stop talking about.