The first superhero I’ve met whose alter ego is a CPA! Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
At sixty-four and many travels, there is little trace of where I started. Having said that I only began full manuscripts of 90,000 words or more four years ago. So, yes, that evidence is available, but only on a backup disk locked forever in obscurity.
When I wrote that first novel, I remember it flowed freely, and I was in ecstasy at how easy it was. Then I read it and found out how little I knew about writing. It was a good story, but I had no idea of flow, pace, head-hopping, arc of story, and many other facets that glue a book into a good read.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
Well, I walk the streets as a cpa; and I am told by most of my clients that I am the most unusual cpa the have even met. I think that’s a compliment.
As to my secret identity, I would have to say I have an affinity for the druid. I had someone tell me in a reading a few years back that I was a druid in some past life, and was hung for my profession.
Who are your partners in crime?
I get great support from my wife. My son builds web sites, and is a master at cover design, so, I go to him for direction in such things. I have also found an incredible editor.
In addition, when I have written something, and it is time for review, I find that a good partner to take along is a wee nip of scotch.
What are their superpowers?
Well, the scotch can speak for itself.
My wife has an incredible ability with animals, has her own horse, and is very much into natural horsemanship. Much of my writing includes dogs, horses and wolves. All of that I have learned from her.
My son is an artist at heart, and gives me excellent insight into the younger people who might read my work; as I feel my work is very much for a younger crowd, say fifteen to fifty.
My editor, I will not give out that his name is David Antrobus, is a master of language. He is brutal with his editing sword, and I have learned much from him. He also writes incredible Flash fiction. A plug there, David.
Where do you get your superpowers from?
My mom was a teacher. My dad read us stories every night. The small cove I lived in, in Newfoundland, was filled with folklore, superstition, stories, and tradition. It left an incredible need in me to continue telling stories- never let go of the child.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
I am extremely lucky to be living in New Hampshire, on the grounds of the Searles Castle; it is a few minutes’ walk from my property. The room where I work looks out on stately trees, and three ponds, one with a huge stone bridge.
No better setting for a Fantasy writer could ever be found.
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form?
Another piece of luck, I think. I just CAN’T stop writing. Even when I have a book with my editor, I will write short pieces, poems, songs. I think I’m addicted.
How do you insure they are used only for good?
Oh, I like this question. It’s a pet peeve of mine. I like books to have happy endings. Real life gives us enough grief to contend with. Reading should be an escape. Sure, you need seemingly insurmountable adversity to make us worry for the heroine; but without that happy ending, I feel robbed. So yes, to some degree you can always predict the end of my book; yet, I do manage to surprise even the most astute reader, from time to time.
Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
Oh, but I do! Even as a cpa, I gave up wearing suits years ago. Now I have my signature vest and jeans. They keep me simple and on the ground. They remind me to have humility and compassion for all that I encounter.
What is your kryptonite?
I have a thin skin; not a good thing in the world of having folks read your work. I also have a Rottie’s inclination to protect that which I love, be it beast, belief, or family. You can see where the two might cause a meltdown. So, I practice being cool when people cut me off in traffic, cut in line, or act just plain rude. As I get older I find my kryptonite has less effect on me.
What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
That platform that everyone talks about. It’s a nebulous task at best. It’s so easy to end up spamming, or pushing yourself in someone else’s face. I find it very difficult to track down were the readers are. I belong to all types of groups, but invariably they are other writers, editors, and the like. I guess all the readers are home reading, lol.
What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
Mediocracy! I actually had the book written and edited, and had gone on to write two others. In that process I learned a great deal about writing, so, I went back and totally rewrote that book.
It was a very difficult thing to do, as I had put so much effort into it the first time. But, I knew in my heart it was not up to snuff. It is now. That is not to say that my book is for everyone; some folks just don’t like Fantasy. I am very proud I had the courage, and took the time to do what I did.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and learn from other people. There are lots of people who will give you a way forward, when doing it yourself will take much longer, and be filled with greater setbacks.
In the same breath, don’t be afraid to stretch yourself, take a chance, do what you want to do, rather than what you think you can; something overthinking something is a killer.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
After my first book, I was bragging in my writer’s group that I had zero sales, with a bullet. A lady blogger felt sorry for me I think, and did a most wonderful interview, and review of my book. (Which I have kept) She died soon after. I can only think she knew she was dying and reached out to help a few people along the way.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I can’t say I would change anything. Ya, I made lots of mistakes, probably a little late getting a platform. I learned from being a cpa that it takes an average of five years to get a business off the ground; I think it’s the same for a writer. And even then there are no guarantees, so, you better like what you’re doing.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
Like what you’re doing and keep at it. The “keep at it” part is the heart of the matter. It is only by doing that you get the feel, the timbre, the ability to bring it all together. And, it takes a few books to get that done.
Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
*Points gun at Grace. “Cause I said so, Doll.” Whoops, a flashback to when I used to read Crime Noir.
My new book is “Ashima,” A post-apocalyptic world already in turmoil must face an even greater challenge. A few who have Magic, a community that specializes in healing and herbs, a Gater Clan who likes to take what it needs, and a desperate other world that needs the very essence of mankind if it is to survive, will meet in one final battle. Sides are still uncertain, but the stakes are set, the world itself.
What is in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
I hate to sound anticlimactic, but keep on doing what I like doing. In NANO month I laid down 50,000 words (yes, I actually stopped in mid-sentence)of a new book, The Ancient sword of Prophecy. I’m looking forward to completing it, but first my last book in the series needs to be edited, so, lots to do.
You can find Russell at: