An Interview with Sue Russell: Author
Sylvia: Hi Sue, it is such a pleasure to interview you. Please give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Sue: Thank you Sylvia. My name is Sue Russell and I’ve been writing stories, on and off, ever since I could hold a pencil. At the back of my mind there’s always been a kind of mental itch, knowledge that I couldn’t use up my life and not have something in print to leave behind. A dozen or so years ago this finally found its focus in a challenge from a group of friends, to stop talking about it and do it.
At the moment, and for the foreseeable future, I am writing fiction from an unequivocal Christian standpoint. British Christian fiction barely exists, even though there are some excellent British writers working away in this area; and of course historically there’s some fine British Christian work out there. I want to do something for the 21st century, and something different from Christian fiction in America, where it is extremely popular.
I have a degree in history (a long time ago); I taught children with severe learning difficulties for a number of years; I was a single foster-parent for a time; and I was a Samaritan for 17 years. Some of the influences from these experiences have found their way into my books. Being a Samaritan in particular opened my privileged eyes to the troubles of others and awakened in me an abiding interest in the hazy interface between mental health and illness.
Retired now, as well as writing I read voraciously, almost exclusively fiction of many genres. I am the organist at my parish church; I play flute in a band and sing in a choir. I live in Kent UK with my husband and my dog, and sometimes with my two student daughters.
Like most people I have had difficult times and been through tragedy. However, I have been greatly blessed through my life in many ways, and I want to share this sense of blessing and such gifts as I have been given by writing stories for Christians and non-Christians alike, stories that are, I hope, thought-provoking, gripping and entertaining.
My trilogy – ‘Leviathan with a Fish-hook’ (2009), ‘The Monster Behemoth’ (2010) and ‘The Land of Nimrod’ (2011) – is available in all the usual places on the internet and can be downloaded to e-readers such as Kindle. Currently I am mulling over my next novel. I have a ghost of a plot, a back-story forming, and some characters who are getting clearer all the time. It might, just maybe, be volume one of a series. But I mustn’t get ahead of myself. There’s a lot of work to do!
Sylvia: Wow, what an amazing story. You’ve spent your life helping others. You’ve given student a wonderful gift. In addition, I am glad your friends finally challenged you to write your story. We tend to procrastinate a lot… and a gentle push is sometimes what we need to get started. What inspired you to write your first book?
Sue: A story began to form, and as I planned it I felt it might represent service to God and his people. I’ve decided to go for my first book, ‘Leviathan with a Fish-hook.’ Because it’s the one I cut my teeth on as a writer, it may well not be the most polished, but I learnt a lot as I went on, and I hope I have continued to improve.
Sylvia: Do you also use life experiences to bring your characters to life?
Sue: I suppose I do mine thru my own experiences for my stories, but they get changed on the way. I learned a lot, for example, from my 17 years as a Samaritan.
Sylvia: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Sue: There are many ‘messages!’ (But I hope no pontificating.) Among them is the value of friendship, the need for honesty, humility and courage.
‘The Monster Behemoth’ is better than book 1 and book 3. ‘The Land of Nimrod’ is the best of all. But as the story is sequential, a reader needs to know what happened in the beginning. ‘Leviathan with a Fish-hook’ was written from the heart as well as the brain. Although I am not one to hear messages at all, I did feel, with all due humility, that I had a mandate from the Holy Spirit. That’s where the inspiration came from, I believe. The content of the story is part-invention, part-experience, part research, and then took on its own momentum.
Sylvia: Interesting! Do you have any advice for other writers?
Sue: I’m hardly in a position to advice; and only have my own experience to draw on. I’d say become aware of what’s happening in today’s world of books. Publishing is in flux, the market is adapting to e-publishing, there are more opportunities for independent authors, and the route you take is dependent on what you want as a writer. Look at all the options and see what best fits your goals.
Sylvia: Why should we buy your book?
Sue: For a different kind of reading experience, including not only engaging characters and a good story, but something thought-provoking, challenging, mind-expanding.
Sylvia: Is there a special place you like to write?
Sue: I do all my writing in my study at home, overlooking the garden. I am fortunate to have my own space. It’s very important to me.
Sylvia: What is your power word?
Sue: This made me think a bit! How about AUTHENTIC? Authentic! I try to portray believable people in believable situations; not heroes or saints. Fallible sinners, who get things wrong, lose their cool, are sometimes perceptive, sometimes blind, people with a past and emotional baggage, people who fall down, get up again; and learn lessons the hard way – like life.
Sylvia: Okay, I like that! What projects are you currently working on?
Sue: At the moment I’m preparing for a new novel and hope to get started soon. It will be in a similar genre to my trilogy, but with a different slant and approach.
Sylvia: New novel? How exciting! Good luck Sue. Thank you! It has been wonderful getting to know you. Please share your contact information.
Sue: You are very welcome. My contact information: