Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author's Corner With Jeff Russell

Welcome Back to Author's Corner! 

This week we are talking to Jeff Russell who is the author of The Dream Shelf! 

Why do you write Jeff?
Writing allows me to create. Characters, plot, dilemmas, solutions, conflicts, dialog – I love every facet of the process. Even if I think that no one else will read the finished story I tweak each word, sentence and paragraph until completely satisfied with the results. Writing dares me to improve, to test myself and I cannot resist the challenge.

When did you decide to take the plung and become a writer?
I go for many solitary, long distance runs and during those quiet times stories swirl in my head. One of them became so intricate that I had to write it down to keep track of the details. The more it evolved the more I became attached to the characters and their plight. 80,000 words later I had a novel that I shared with a local book club and they inspired me to share it with others. That’s when I discovered that some readers enjoy my work as much as I do.

What genre are your books?
Literary/Contemporary Fiction comes closest. I write about people like you and me – characters with limited physical, financial and emotional resources who get caught up in extraordinary circumstances.

What draws you to this genre?
As I say in my by-line … life makes for a great adventure. The real history in The Dream Shelf and the real science in Cab’s Lantern are fascinating … we just have to read and appreciate. I tap into episodes from our American past and weave them into stories with characters that readers can relate to without having to suspend their belief.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I’m keeping it real for now. My books have sold well but not enough to let me quit my day job. I write, and share that writing, for the love of it; not for the prospects of financial gain.

Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Write for the love of writing, aiming to please yourself first. Then share your work freely in exchange for honest, constructive criticism. Everyone needs it and everyone benefits from it. Don’t write for the money; that only leads to frustration.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The research, though that is also the most rewarding thing. When I reference an event that took place in the past but has some impact on the current-day story I want to ensure that every fact I state is verifiable. Accurate imagery is also important. I want readers to say ‘Hey, I stood on that bridge’ or ‘I’ve seen that sign’ or ‘I’ve been there – I know exactly where that took place.’ This is key to drawing readers into the story.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’m definitely a plot person, though my storylines typically begin in the middle with some defining discovery or revelation. I plot from there to the ending and then backwards to define how it all began.

Do you ever get writer’s Block?
I always know what I want to say but not how I want to say it. The art of writing involves taking an emotion the author feels and converting it into words that will trigger the same emotion in the reader. That is no simple task. I will spend hours searching for the right combination of words to achieve that goal – that’s my version of writer’s block.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I go for a walk and talk to my characters, explaining what I’m trying to do and listening to their input. Like actors advising the director, they tell me how a scene should play out and how the dialog should sound.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Local book clubs have been a great asset for me, acting as beta-readers and giving me constructive feedback. That process has taught me to look at my scenes from the perspective of an educated, frank, well-read audience. I still love to create but now I’m creating for them as well as for myself.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Be honest with yourself. Are you writing for fame and fortune, or are you writing because it’s the spark that keeps your heart beating. If you’re writing for wealth then spend your money on lottery tickets instead – you stand a better chance there. And if you’re writing for yourself then do so at every opportunity.

Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I see readers (educated readers, at least) spending less time and money on over-hyped hardcopies churned out by the Big-5 houses and more on emerging self-published authors. Reviews are an integral part of this process, and as more reviewers step up to share their opinions more savvy readers discover this whole new world of low-cost literary recreation.

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
I always make ebook copies of my stories available for free to anyone willing to post a review. Interested readers can contact me at for details.

As an aside, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. Like reviews and guest blogs, interviews are critical stepping stones for self-published authors. Your stone brings me one step closer to a wider audience. Cheers!

How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Facebook: Jeff Russell
Twitter: @CabsLantern
Amazon Author Page:
Smashwords: Jeff Russell (CabsLantern)

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