One challenge an author of murder
mysteries faces is how to devise a neat plot. Making that kind of puzzle work
out is fun. I try to make my books fast paced and tense, and most reviewers
describe my books as 'page-turners'. But although novels in the crime genre are
plot driven, my main area of interest is character. I'm fascinated by people
and how they behave. My books explore what drives people to kill. Although all
murder is insane, every killer has his
or her own motivation. He or she could be a psychopath, high on drugs, drunk,
or brainwashed. Or the killer might be someone who could have lived a normal
life given different circumstances, driven beyond the limits of his or her
endurance. Exploring characters who behave in extreme ways is what attracts me
to the mystery genre, but it doesn't explain 'why' I write. I can't answer that
question. As the author William McIlvanney says, 'writing is an inexplicable
about your latest book
My debut, Cut Short, is
published by Harper Collins in the US in November 2013, my first title to be
published in the US. The book first came out in the UK, shortlisted for a major
award, the Crime Writers Association Dagger Award for Best First Novel in 2010.
It has been popular in the UK, as have all the other titles in the series. They
have all reached number 1 on various bestseller lists on kindle sites around
Europe, including number 1 position outright on kindle in the UK. Dead End was
selected as a Best Fiction Book of the Year by the Miami Examiner, which calls
Geraldine Steel 'one of the most interesting detectives of all time.' In the
space of six months, Harper Collins US will have caught up with the UK, by
bringing the titles out at a rate of one a month. They will have to slow down
after April as my books come out published every six months now. I may be fast,
but even I don't produce a book every month! Cut Short introduces my detective,
Geraldine Steel, struggling to track down an elusive killer who is prowling the
streets, murdering young women.
do you have for other writers?
The Golden Rule of 'show
don't tell' is good advice. Don't give readers a report of what happens in your
book from the point of view of an outside observer. Take your reader into the
scene so that they live through it in their imagination. If your character is
on a fishing boat, for example, as well as writing about what they see, make
your scene come to life by describing the stench of fish, and the rolling
motion of the boat on the waves. I don't agree with the other piece of advice
aspiring writers often hear, to write about what you know. What is wrong with
imagination? And how many brilliant and wonderful books would never have been
written if we all followed that advice? It is certainly easier and generally
more effective to base your writing on familiar locations and situations, but
our imaginations can carry us beyond what is real into what is possible -
fiction, in other words.
favourite quote about writing/for writers?
The French playwright
Eugene Ionesco wrote 'A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists
of writing or thinking about writing.' That's certainly true in my own
experience. I also like American crime writer Lee Child's response when asked
how he coped with writers' block. 'Does a truck driver have truck drivers'
block?' he replied. 'There are days when he doesn't want to drive but he had to
because it's his job and his family have to eat. It's exactly the same for a
writer. There's no such thing as writers' block. You're being lazy.' I think
what appeals to me about both these quotations is that Ionesco and Lee are
really talking about their passion for writing.
best thing about being a writer?
One of the reasons I
love writing is that a writer is never bored. There is always something to
think about, a plot twist to unravel, or a character's action to make credible.
Wherever I am, waiting in traffic, queuing in the supermarket, on the train, there
is always some devious plotting going on in my head.
people find out more about you and your writing?
You can find out about
me from my US publisher, Harper Collins, or from my website http://leighrussell.co.uk where you
can also find links to my blog, facebook and twitter. You are welcome to
contact me directly on my website. I always reply in person to emails, although
it might take up to a week for me to respond.
Who is you favorite
character in your book and why?
When I started writing the Geraldine
Steel series, I didn't know my detective very well. It was like meeting her for
the first time. With each novel the reader finds out more about her, but
writing the series has been a journey of discovery for me as I have been
getting to know Geraldine along with my readers. It took me completely by
surprise when fans began to email me wanting to know what was going to happen
to her. The same happened with her sergeant,
Ian Peterson. I was planning to leave him out of Geraldine's second book. While
I was writing Road Closed, I gave a talk in my local library to a readers'
group who had read Cut Short. When I told them I was giving Geraldine a new
sergeant, they all protested loudly that they liked Ian Peterson. So I kept him
in, little suspecting he would feature in his own spin off series a few years
Why do you think
readers are going to enjoy your book?
If you like the mystery genre then I hope
you will enjoy my books. You might enjoy the suspense, encounter some interesting characters, and
perhaps glimpse a snapshot of life in contemporary England. As an American
reviewer said, Cut Short gives 'a convincing if disconcerting feel of
contemporary Britain' (The Compulsive a Reader). All I can say for sure is that
my books have been well received and very popular so far. But you will have to
read the books for yourself, and make up your own mind about them.
How do you research
The internet is amazing. You can find
just about any information you need at the click of a key. All the same, I
prefer to research with real people whenever I can. Here's one example selected
from many. In Road Closed one of my characters works in a market. I spent an
afternoon chatting to stall holders in a market, asking about their working
lives, and discovered that market traders like to use banana boxes because they
are strong. So when Geraldine Steel visits my market trader, she passes a stack
of banana boxes in the front room. Most readers wouldn't notice that
insignificant detail. If anyone who worked in a market read the scene, they
might not even realise why, but it would seem authentic. That is the kind if
detail that can make a narrative convincing.
Does your family
support you in your writing career?
My father is a retired doctor so I am
fortunate to have a medical expert always ready to advise me. Whenever I travel
to speak at literary festivals, or to teach creative writing, both in the UK
and overseas, my husband accompanies me. We are hoping to visit New York next
year, now that I have a publisher in the US. I can't wait to return! The last
time we went there was in October 2001, in the wake of 9/11. It was a very sad
time to visit, but a group of us in the UK felt it was important to fly to New
York at that time, to show our support. Our next visit will be a happier
occasion, as we will be celebrating my new association with my American
publisher, Harper Collins. But we will revisit Ground Zero during our visit, to
pay our respects. Geraldine Steel would approve. As she says, 'Just because the
dead have no voice doesn't mean they have no rights.'
Three women. One mission. Lifelong lessons. BUY NOW http://tinyurl.com/KindleIBIB Kindle and Nook currently on a digital Pre-Order Special: $4.99 (Reg. $6.99) Save 25% for a Limited Time - Valid through May 14, 2017