Bethany Rutter on her debut novel No Big Deal

While running navabi’s social media accounts, Bethany Rutter also co-hosts the successful podcast What Page Are You On?, where she discusses her favourite books and interviews a host of talented authors. Today the tables have turned, as I sit down to interview her on the launch day of her highly-anticipated debut novel, No Big Deal.

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Sarah: How did writing No Big Deal come about?

Bethany: In the space of a week in 2016, I got two emails, one from a non-fiction editor and one from a children’s fiction editor. Both said they were really into my work and would like to work with me on a book. To my great surprise, both of the projects ended up happening. First of all, Plus+, which was my non-fiction book for Ebury Press and now finally my debut novel from Macmillan Children’s. I had never written fiction before so it was big challenge and I never would have written a novel at all if my now-editor hadn’t suggested it to me.

Sarah: How would you describe No Big Deal?

Bethany: Without wanting to give too much of the plot away, it’s a romance novel about a cool, fat teenage girl.

Sarah: How important was it for you to write this book?

Bethany: As I was writing it, I realised how few books I had read like it while being a teenager myself. So it felt really cool and powerful to be able to write something that might end up being useful to people who never saw themselves represented or don’t feel represented now.

Sarah: Are any of the characters based on anyone you know?

Bethany: Yes, sort of me! Although it is not a purely autobiographical story, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t based on experiences that I had as a teenager or the way I felt when I was younger. While the main character, Emily, isn’t me, she will probably remind a lot of people who know me of me.

Sarah: What kind of feedback have you received so far?

Bethany: Just before we sat down for this interview, I read a message from someone on Instagram who said, “I finally have a character who represented me. I can’t wait to buy copies for my nieces.” That has been the kind of feedback I have really enjoyed hearing.

Sarah: What does it feel like to see your book in print?

Bethany: It’s been such a long process stretching all the way back to 2016 when I wrote it. So to finally see the book not just in print, but in bookshops is a really amazing feeling.

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Sarah: What impact would you like No Big Deal to have?

Bethany: I would love for No Big Deal to make anyone who reads it feel more at home in the world.

Sarah: What tips would you give anyone wanting to write their first novel?

Bethany: I feel like no writing advice will be right for everyone but what worked for me was just to write a consistent amount every day until I finished the book. I am in the middle of writing my second novel and I make myself write a 1000 words a day even if I don’t really want to. Half the battle is just getting the words on a page.

Sarah: What’s next?

Bethany: Hopefully my second novel which isn’t a sequel to No Big Deal, but kind of deals with some of the same issues from a different angle. Based on the response I’ve had to No Big Deal I feel like it will be a fun idea to return to these characters and see what happens to Emily and her friends next. Maybe there will be a book three!

You can buy No Big Deal at all good bookshops or on Amazon

You can listen to Bethany’s podcast here.

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