Tuesday, 17 November 2015

My Interview With... Leigh Russell.

I've been following Leigh Russell's writing career since I first found out about her debut novel, Cut Short, soon after its publication.  I hunted high and low for a copy, and managed to find one at Worcester library. I finished it after about three days or so, and I've been hooked on her books ever since. I am amazed at her ability not only to write two different crime series (the DI Geraldine Steel series and DS (now DI) Ian Peterson series) that also crossover, at the same time, but that she has added a third series, the Lucy Hall Mysteries, the first of which will be published early 2016.

Below is a short bio of the best selling crime author, followed by my interview with her. Enjoy:

#1 Bestselling Author Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American literature. Her first novel in the Geraldine Steel series, Cut Short, was published in 2009, followed by Road Closed in 2010, Dead End in 2011, Death Bed in 2012, Stop Dead in 2013, Fatal Act in 2014 and Killer Plan in 2015. The eighth novel to feature DI Geraldine Steel will be published in 2016. The series has received glowing reviews and has been so popular with readers around the world that Leigh is now writing a spin off series for DI Ian Peterson. Cold Sacrifice was published in 2013, followed by Race to Death in 2014. The third novel in this series will be published in 2015. As well as writing bestselling crime novels, Leigh runs occasional creative writing courses in different venues across Europe. Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in North West London.
(Taken from Amazon.co.uk)

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

This might sound ridiculous, but I never had any plans to write a book before I had actually written one. One day I had an idea for a story and wrote it down, and that was the beginning of my writing career. It has been a lot of work since then, but that's how it all began. That manuscript attracted the attention of a publisher and here I am, six years after Cut Short was published, with eleven books out and contracts for another seven. Being an author somehow crept up on me and I still can't believe how lucky I've been.

What are you working on right now?

Blood Axe, the third Ian Peterson title, has just been published by No Exit Press, and I'm currently writing the second in my new Lucy Hall series for Thomas and Mercer. The first of these, Journey to Death, will be published in February 2016. Once that's finished, I need to plan the ninth novel in the Geraldine Steel series. The eighth title in that series, Murder Ring, is out as an ebook in December, with the paperback published in 2016. These days when readers ask me when my next book is published, I have to stop and think.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

It's difficult to comment on my own books. Readers tell me they enjoy following the careers of my protagonists, trying to determine who the killers are before my detectives manage to work it out. That's not difficult in some of my books, but readers don't seem to mind spotting the clues before my detectives do. Most reviewers describe my books as page turners, and I think readers like the suspense as much as the mystery in my books. What differentiates each of my books, for me, is the motivation of the killer. Perhaps what makes my books distinct from others in the genre is that all of the detectives are different.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I write whenever I can. Over the past year I've been away from home for a total of about six months, with book tours and research trips taking me all across the UK and overseas. But with two or three books to deliver each year, I also have regular deadlines from publishers, structural editors, copy editors, and proofs. The treadmill of success is demanding, and means I have to write whenever and wherever possible. I write on an ipad which is sync'd with my iPad mini that goes everywhere with me, allowing me to write on train and plane journeys, in the car (not when I'm driving!), in bed before I get up... anywhere, in fact. People often ask me if I'm disciplined about writing, but I have no set routine, no writing schedule. I just write when I can.

How much research do you do before and during a writing project?

The story comes first for me, and I try to make sure that everything is there to serve the story. In common with other crime writers, I spend a lot of time on research. Some of my research is for information, and I find that people who are expert in their field are always very generous with their time and knowledge. Of course I'm happy to accept help, especially from my advisors on the police force, but even with a lot of assistance, many questions can't be answered by other people. My research has taken me all around the world to many diverse locations, from a closed prison in the UK to a beautiful beach in the Seychelles. I like to have my first draft completed before travelling to research a location and when travelling I try to stay focused on finding out what I need. It's so easy to be sidetracked!

How does your writing process work?

For me the process is a mixture of ideas, excitement, and hard work, beginning and ending with panic. To begin with I am anxious that my idea will not work. Once I start writing, excitement takes over, and then the hard work begins, until the conclusion of the editing process. At this point panic returns, as I'm concerned about how my new book will be received. But there is never much time to worry about it, as I need to start working on my next manuscript.

What other authors do you read?

Of course I read a lot of crime. There are so many brilliant crime writers, Peter James, Simon Beckett, Val McDermid, Henning Mankell, Linwood Barclay - there are too many to list. But I don't only read crime. Some of my all time favourites are not classed as crime writers at all, although their books contain crimes, as so much great literature does: Edith Wharton, Harper Lee, F Scott FitzGerald, Dickens, Steinbeck, Kazuo Ishiguru, Jane Austen... again, I could go on. What I look for in an author is an engaging story and characters I can feel some kind of connection with.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

Readers contact me daily with messages on social media, as well as emails through my website, telling me how much they enjoy my books. Negative comments are rare, and I have only ever once declined to respond to an email. I sometimes wish people who contact me via my website would post reviews online. I know many authors ask fans to write reviews, and sometimes I wonder if I should start doing that. But it's always lovely to hear from readers, especially when they are fans of my books! 


Monday, 9 November 2015

My Interview With... Myself.

Welcome to the first in my author interview series, and to start off I'm going to interview myself.  I've done a few interviews before so for some of you my answers may be nothing new, but for most of you, I hope this will help you get to know me a little bit better.

I shall be aiming for one author a month, but I'll see how it goes. I'll be posting my next interview, with the brilliant crime author, Leigh Russell, next week.

If any authors would like to be appear in my interview series please contact me via email at cjwrightbooks@live.com and put in the subject line: Author Interview.

So now without further ado, here's my interview with... Myself.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always had a vivid imagination, but it was when I met Sue Townsend, the author of the Adrian Mole books, when I was eight years old that I knew I wanted to be a writer.  I guess a lot of authors have been influenced by meeting a published author face-to-face, and I most definitely was. I believe it was the 23rd of November 1985, and Sue Townsend came to my primary school, the one she had attended when she was a child, and I was in awe of her.  She spoke to us about her books, and writing, and from that moment I knew that it was something I wanted to do too.

What are you working on right now?

I have two new books scheduled to come out next year so I’m busy doing edits.  I’m also doing primarily work on the final book in my Vampire Hunter Trilogy.  Due to my health, my writing has been a bit sporadic over the past few years, but I’m now getting into the swing of things by writing mainly at night or early in the morning when I’m at my most alert.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I try to go for spooky rather than gory horror.  I’d rather make my readers pulse race than turn their stomachs, and with the amount of gore in horror these days, especially in movies, most horror fans are de-sensitised to it all.  Also I hate to use profanity in my work, unless I really can’t help it, and then only in dialog.  Swearing for the sake of it just seems lazy writing, if you ask me.

Why did you choose the genre you write in?

I don’t think I did choose it, it chose me.  I’ve always been a fan of horror, whether it be in the form of films, comics and of course, books, and all my writing seems to gravitate to that.  I’m often asked why horror, particularly by my family and friends, but it just seems natural somehow.
How much research do you do before and during a writing project?
As much as I need, really.  I like to create as much of the world in my imagination if I can, but for the things that need to be correct I check online, and from more than one source if I can.  Just because Wikipedia says it, doesn’t mean it’s true.

Who are your writing influences?

Stephen King, who is an obvious choice, but true, and I’ve seen and read numerous interviews and documentaries about him, and I’ve read On Writing a number of times.  The same with J.K. Rowling.  Though I don’t think I’ll ever get to their level of fame or readership, if you don’t at least have a level to aim for you’re not really going to get anywhere.

What other authors do you read?

I read pretty much anything, both fiction and non-fiction, but my favourite genre to read is crime fiction.  When I was younger I read a lot of Agatha Christie, especially the Miss Marple stories, because they were quick reads which held my childhood concentration.  When I tried something longer I usually lost interest unless it grabbed me right at the beginning I gave up not long afterwards.
Some of my favourite crime authors are Colin Dexter, Leigh Russell, Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K Rowling), James Patterson and Tess Gerritsen.  Though there and many, many other authors enjoy.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I watch a lot of Netflix.  I’ve always preferred to relax with TV show box sets than movies.  Other than that, because I am disabled and have to take a medication that makes me tired a lot of the time, when I’m not sleeping I’m either reading or spending time with my wife.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I do hear from a few of them, mainly on Goodreads.com, and so far it's been pretty positive, but I’d love to hear more from them.


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Work, work, work...

It's been a while, as it usually is between posts, but I have been working hard on two new books that will be out next year. They are both sequels, the first is the next Ramton Gallow mystery: The Amazing Pickwick Circus, which sees Daniel Grade and friends tackle a new adventure when a strange circus comes to town. The second new book is Rising Star, the sequel to Falling Star. There will be a third story completing the Star trilogy, but that is a little way off yet.

With those two books going through the editing process, I'm starting to turn my attention to the book that will finish off what I started with my first published novel, Ritual of Blood. Wampyre's Gate is the last book in the Vampire Hunter Trilogy and will bring everything full circle for Victor Drake, Jessica, Brice Hawk and Lucinda Beaufort.

In order to bring more content to this blog I'm going to post interviews with fellow authors of all types of genres in a My Interview With... series.  I'll be starting with myself, and then hopefully posting one interview a month, though it will be more if my number of authors wanting to be interviewed increases of course.

So, watch this space for more news, and I'll catch you all next time :)


C.J. Wright's books on Goodreads
Ritual of Blood Ritual of Blood
reviews: 2
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.38)

Falling Star Falling Star
reviews: 2
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.33)

Killing Time Killing Time
reviews: 1
ratings: 2 (avg rating 4.50)