Hi, there. I know I haven’t posted much lately. I had a ton of reading and writing to catch up on. A girl’s got to use her imagination or she might start thinking *gulp* normal thoughts! We’re still not at 300 likes on Facebook, which was my goal last week, but for the 294 of you currently following on the FB page, I made you a little something in the spirit of the season…
And if that little token of appreciation didn’t warm your heart completely, how about a book giveaway? That’s right! Author Russell James is giving away a signed copy of his novel DARK INSPIRATION. One name will be randomly selected to receive this free paperback, and all you have to do is like this post or leave a comment. (Oh, and we’d like it if you read the interview, too!)
What inspired you to write your first book?
On long car drives, I used to tell my wife stories that I’d thought up. After hearing so many of these, she said, “Why don’t you write these down? People would want to read them.” I told her she was nuts. I officially apologized when (much later) my first published novel, DARK INSPIRATION came out.
Do you write every single day?
Absolutely. I’m either writing or editing something every day. Some days, life and the paying job limit that time. Other days, I can string several hours together and make real progress.
Do events from your past play a role in your writing?
I believe that life experiences are the building blocks of creative writing. Some people say that their dream is to get a house on the beach and sit on the porch writing novels. Good luck with that unless all your stories are about a writer on a porch by the beach.
My novel SACRIFICE was inspired by real events. After about thirty years, a bunch of my high school friends got together in our hometown. We flew in from all over. It was a blast, a real time warp. I started thinking about what it would take to keep people from doing that. How awful an experience would a group of close friends have to have to permanently split them apart forever? Awful experience equals horror novel, and that story was born.
Other experiences creep into books as well. I mined my helicopter pilot experience for DARK VENGEANCE, living in Tennessee brought out DARK INSPIRATION, a trip to south Florida inspired a big part of BLACK MAGIC. It is more mix and match than autobiographical.
Do you try to put messages and morals into your fiction, or do you write simply to entertain the reader?
I just write for entertainment, but somehow the thread of a specific moral theme seems to rise to the surface of each work. BLACK MAGIC is about the power of family. DARK VENGEANCE is about the slippery slope of revenge.
Where can we find your work?
I have an author page at Amazon that lists all my work: http://www.amazon.com/Russell-James/e/B006BFIOKQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0. I also have a page at the Samhain Publishing website: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/russell-james-pa-1670.html?PHPSESSID=65d4abdbcc6b0e515428cd05cf6276ff, but Samhain has great distribution and you can find my books everywhere.
Are character names important to you?
Names for major characters sometimes come later in the process. A lot of times I have a placeholder name for the first ten thousand words until the character gels and a name seems to fit. Other times the name snaps in at the start. Laura Locke’s name was set in stone from page one of DARK INSPIRATION with the alliterative mix of a soft first name and a tough last name, because her character ends up showing both sides by the end of the novel.
How about settings?
Setting is practically another character in my stories. When you write horror, you need to have some type of isolation to amplify the terror, and setting is a great way to do that. It also lays the tone of the story. My upcoming novella, BLOOD RED ROSES, is set on a plantation in the waning days of the Civil War. A boy is sent as an indentured servant and he is immediately isolated from everything he knows, and in an environment steeped in evil. Throw in some witchcraft and you have one dark tale.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
In junior high, I wrote a science fiction story that got published in a mimeographed school collection. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I’m not sure why it took me about thirty years to give it another try.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a horror/thriller about a woman and her autistic son who are caught, uninfected, on the wrong side of a quarantine zone.
Have you ever considered collaborating with another author?
I’ve done something like this. My critique group published a benefit collection of short stories titled OUT OF TIME: http://www.amazon.com/Out-Time-Tales-Travel-ebook/dp/B00BQP70UG/ref=la_B006BFIOKQ_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381343601&sr=1-5. Each story has a different author, but all the other authors contributed some serious, often brutal feedback on each story, sometimes in several waves. The results seem worth it. The collection has been at least in the top 100 Amazon anthology rankings since the beginning of the year and has just started taking off in Great Britain. All the royalties from it are donated to Doctors Without Borders.
Please tell us about yourself. What are your hobbies? What inspires you?
I have a little daysailer I like to take out on the rare occasions when free time and nice days intersect. I also have a 1970 Corvette convertible that sucks up time and money on a regular basis.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Sitting pretty with ten more novels published. We’ll see if I have the creative juice and the dumb luck it takes to make that happen.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write. But do it in ways that make you learn how to write. Live or online classes in creative writing are a must, if taught by someone who knows the business. I took two online classes with Gotham Writer’s Workshop (http://www.writingclasses.com/InformationPages/MoreInformation.php/info_type/NL/item/4150?utm_source=Gotham+Writers%27+Workshop+List&utm_campaign=d9ba3729d3-WEB_Jan_NL_Dec2812_28_2011&utm_medium=email) and learned a ton. I also met the top-flight writers who formed our Minnow Literary Group there (http://minnowsliterarygroup.blogspot.com). That leads me into the second piece of advice, get into a critique group, but one with skills. You want to learn from people who know what they are talking about. The people in my group are dynamite. Since our group formed, all have won writing contests or been published professionally.
Don’t forget to like this post or leave comment for your chance to win a SIGNED copy of: