Earlier this year Ruddock travelled to London, England to attend a prestigious ceremony for the richest short story prize in the world, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award.
Although the award ultimately went to British author Jonathan Tel, Ruddock inclusion on the short-list was impressive.
He was the only Canadian among six international writers to be short-listed for the prize. “You’re treated as though you’re royalty, even though you’re not,” said Ruddock. His first novel The Parabolist was shortlisted for the 2011 Toronto Book Award and received widespread acclaim across Canada.
The excitement has continued for Ruddock’s third book, Night Ambulance, published by Breakwater Books Ltd.
Night Ambulance is set in St. John’s, Newfoundland during the 1970s. 16-year-old Rowena travels to St. John’s for an illegal abortion, and winds up in the hospital where she is questioned for her choice.
The story explores the difficulties young women and men face with unwanted pregnancies, and the shifting societal values in the 1970s. There are multiple characters in Night Ambulance who are deeply impacted by Rowena and her difficult choice. “It’s a sympathetic book about women and pregnancy,” said Ruddock, who is a retired general practitioner in Guelph. The author said that his job as a doctor helped him to write the book from a sympathetic perspective.
“It’s a historical novel about an ongoing issue,” added Ruddock. Despite the often touchy topic, he manages to tell a story about the controversial issue with care.
Ruddock believes Night Ambulance is a timely novel, with politicians like Donald Trump making comments about women deserving punishment after an abortion. “Men can walk away from pregnancy, but women can’t,” said Ruddock.
WHen asked about his choice of city to set the novel in, he said that is partly because St. John's is a city that Ruddock knows and loves. It’s also where he lived when he was the age of the characters in his book.
Night Ambulance was released on May 16, 2016 and is available through The Bookshelf and Chapters in Guelph.