Sunday, 22 May 2016

New Book Release and Interview with the Author Leigh Russell

 Leigh Russell is the author of the internationally best-selling Geraldine Steel series: Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act and Murder Ring and the spin off series featuring Ian Peterson: Cold Sacrifice, Race to Death and Blood Axe. Cut Short was short-listed for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award, Stop Dead was a Finalist for The People's Book Prize, and her books frequently hit #1 on kindle and iTunes. She is published in the UK by No Exit Press, in the US by Harper Collins, and also in French, Italian, Turkish and German. Leigh studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American literature. For many years a secondary school English teacher, Leigh now writes full-time. She is married with two daughters and lives in North West London.

A very warm welcome to you Leigh, and can I thank you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
Thank you very much for your questions.

For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about the part of the world that you are currently resident in and why do you like living there?
I'm a Londoner. Although my frequent trips might suggest that I'm always travelling, I love being at home. I have too many ties to London to want to live anywhere else.

Do you think the books that you read as a child have influenced your writing in any way?
Everything I have read has probably had some influence on my writing. As a child I discovered the magic of books which offer us an escape from reality. Whether the stories transported me through the back of a wardrobe, down a rabbit hole, or away from homely shires in the company of dwarves and elves and wizards, they took me on wonderful adventures into different worlds. I still wander off into different realities, only now they are often worlds I create myself.

Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel? "
As crime novels my books are plot driven, but the direction of each story is determined by the psyche of my killer.  Once the over-riding idea of the killer's motivation is in place, the story unfolds. I write chronologically, to help guard against inconsistencies in plot and character. Apart from that, I have no set routine, other than to write and rewrite and rewrite again.  

Where do you do your writing best?
I have an office at home, but am often away at literary festivals, on book tours or research trips. So I write wherever I am, in a hotel, on a train or plane, or in the car - when someone else is driving! - in a cafe or on a beach... It makes no difference to me where I am, as long as the idea is working, I'll be writing.  

What helped you decide to actually write fiction novels?
There was no conscious decision to write. I simply had an idea one day, started to write it down, and couldn't stop. That idea was published in 2009 as my début novel, Cut Short, the first in the Geraldine Steel series. Since then, I have not been able to stop writing. I am completely addicted. And, of course, I have regular publishers' deadlines to meet, delivering two books a year, so I can't afford to take a break. And here I am, still writing.

Was it difficult for you to give up a professional career in order to become a full time writer?
No. It was impossible to continue teaching once I started writing two books a year. There really weren't enough hours in the day! Something had to go, and I couldn't give up my writing. Fortunately my books had become popular by the time I started my spin off series, so I was able to afford to give up my day job and write full time, and I haven't looked back since.

When you are writing a novel, how do you place yourself into the time period that you are actually writing about?
My books are set in contemporary time, so this does not pose any problems for me when I'm writing.

How do you go about imagining, developing and give real lives and personalities to the characters that we read about within in your book?
My characters are never based on real people, so I can invest them with whatever characteristics I choose. I really could not say where they come from. They must be a composite of people I have seen, encountered or read about. But they seem to arrive in my imagination, and they take it from there.

Did you encounter any difficulties in getting you books accepted and published?
I think it is more difficult to attract the attention of a publisher now than when I first started out in 2008. All the same, I was very lucky to be offered a publishing deal straight away. Two weeks after I submitted my manuscript, a publisher called me and after we met they offered me a three book deal. I have recently signed my fifth three book deal with No Exit Press, and last year I also signed a three book deal with Thomas and Mercer, which launched this year. So I have been fortunate enough to secure offers from two publishers, without any difficulty.

Did you have to undertake any research for your novels?
I carry out an enormous amount of research for each of my books. I have looked into police procedures, developments in forensics, pathology, physical locations, different places of work, Vikings, markets, fabrics, ballistics... the list really is open ended as my books can require research into almost anything. I have spent time in the obvious sites a crime writer visits, including police stations all around the world, prisons and mortuaries, but I also spend time in a variety of places which could be anywhere, depending on the research my stories demand.

What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite piece of fiction is not a novel but a play, Shakespeare's Hamlet, because it combines haunting poetry with profound philosophical ideas. In this play, Shakespeare considers the purpose of human existence and whether life is worth the effort it demands. The simplicity of the words 'To be or not to be, combined with the profundity of the thought expressed, is stunning. 

Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?
I'm currently reading a manuscript by Michael Walters, who has approached me for a blurb quote for his next book. At the same time, I'm currently writing a book, and have to focus my creative energy on that. When I'm able to take a break from writing, I have a stack of books waiting to be read, including the new Lee Child, and Peter James' latest. I also have a few Val McDermid books to catch up on, and I may read some John Le Carre, having finally watched television adaptation of The Night Manager.

Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal routine and your writing?
So far I've been writing every day since 2008 and I've not yet established any kind of routine. To give you an example of a typical day, I spent yesterday morning packing for a two week book tour of the North of England, while liaising with a lady in Italy who was booking me a flight to Turin where I've been invited in June, avoiding a clash with the Belfast Book Festival which is also in June, arranging details of an on-line book promotion I am participating in to help out a fellow author, and preparing a talk for the London Book Fair where I'm giving a presentation tomorrow afternoon before attending a drinks reception with one publisher before going to a dinner with a printer from Denmark who had flown us out to his factory the previous week to see Murder Ring being printed. And that is just one day in my life as a full time author. So I have no time for hobbies or interests outside of my writing which has taken me all over the UK, to the US, the Seychelles, and all over Europe, attending literary festivals and conducting research.

Can you give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making at the moment?
With Murder Ring published, I'm currently completing the third book in my Lucy Hall series. Once that's finished, I'll be finishing the ninth in my Geraldine Steel series. In her early books, Geraldine Steel worked alongside a sergeant, Ian Peterson, who went on to feature in his own spin off series. With the start of my Lucy Hall series, the Ian Peterson series is stopping for a while, but Ian Peterson won't disappear. He and Geraldine are going to be working together again in the future.

Leigh, to conclude our interview can I ask if there is another question that I should ask you within this interview and what would be your answer?
I was very pleased to sell the option rights for my Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson series to Avalon Television Ltd, and am thrilled that the television series is already in development. I am hoping this project with be successful, and that Geraldine Steel will appear on our television screens before too long. Obviously I am hoping it will be a top quality, award winning series!

Leigh, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.
Thank you very much! It has been a real pleasure to connect with you here.

Just Released:-

If you would like to find out more about Leigh and her writing, the link to her website is given below:

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