Q&A Interview with Leigh Russell

I would like to welcome the lovely Leigh Russell to my blog page who has kindly offered to take part in my Q&A Interview…..Without further ado ere is Leigh Russell

Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
There was no long term plan to become an author. Throughout my early years I was an avid reader, studying literature at university for four years after which I taught English for more years than I can remember. One day I had an idea and began writing and haven’t stopped since. Seven years, and a dozen books later, I’m still writing. 

When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
F Scott FitzGerald said, “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” That was certainly my experience. I had no plans to become a published author, but had an idea for a story and began to write. The narrative took over, until the story had written itself out. Only when it was finished did it occur to me that I had written a book! So I sent off the manuscript, and two weeks later had a call from a publisher who was interested in my work. The rest, as they say, is history. My debut, Cut Short, came out in 2009. I was lucky to be published so quickly, but I think it’s far more difficult to find a publisher these days. 

Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
My books are murder mysteries, or crime fiction, set in England. My current Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson series are psychological police procedurals, often described as “page turners”. My new Lucy Hall series which launches in February with Journey to Death, is also a crime series. It differs from my other writing as my young protagonist, Lucy Hall, is not a police officer, and she has adventures solving crimes overseas.. My audience is anyone who reads crime fiction.

What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
I have been delivering two books a year, one for Geraldine Steel and one Ian Peterson. That allows me six months for each book. Having such challenging deadlines helps me to stay focused. It’s hard work with everything else I have to do, working on edits and appearing at literary festivals, talking in libraries, giving interviews, and signing books, so I never really take a day off. Even my holidays are research trips abroad. But I love what I do, and consider myself extremely lucky to have this opportunity to write full-time. 

Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
My characters are never based on people I know. They must be composites of people I’ve met, and characters I’ve read about or seen in films. But I never consciously model them on anyone I know.

Have you written about a personal experience in your novels?
No, never. My books are pure fiction. They are “what if” scenarios. What would you do if you were alone in the house at night and, in the darkness, you heard a door open? What might happen if you went into work one morning and discovered a dead stranger lying on the floor in your office? 

What research do you do?
My contacts on the police have been invaluable, and I have spent time shadowing and consulting them, as well as visiting prisons and morgues. The internet is a fantastic resource, but I prefer to get my information from real people, experts on their field. I have consulted all sorts of people, from the UK’s leading experts in DNA and forensic anthropology, to market traders and shop assistants, all experts in their own way, in areas in which I have no experience. Locations also need research, and I’ve spent a lot of  time in York, where one of my series is set. This year I had to stay in the Seychelles for a few weeks researching the first book in my Lucy Hall series. That was a difficult challenge! I also had to visit Paris and Rome, all for the purposes of research. Yes, it’s hard work being a crime writer… 

Who would you like to co-write with and why?
That is an interesting question. I envy writing partnerships, like Michael Stanley (who live on different continents!) and Nicci French. It must be wonderful to have constant feedback like that, but I’m not sure anyone would put up with my erratic writing schedule. In addition to my lack of routine, I’m very impatient, so I can’t imagine anyone wanting to work with me. My ideal co-writer would have be a very long-suffering man, as men and women’s perspectives can be slightly different (I hope I don’t get in trouble for sounding sexist… !) but, like most authors, I don’t think I would cope with co-writing with anyone else. Part of the fun of writing is that I can do whatever I want… until the editing process begins….

What’s your favourite book?
I have so many favourites, it really is impossible to pick just one. Among my favourites are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Remains of the Day, Pride and Prejudice, Of Mice and Men, Frankenstein, 1984… I could go on for a long time…. 

What’s your favourite food?
Again, I have several. My daughter makes a wonderful lentil curry, but Ferrero Rocher would have to come a close second… and chips… 

What’s your favourite film?
Play Misty For Me, Hitchcock’s later films, Austin Powers..

What’s your favourite song?
Again, it’s difficult to pick just one, so I’m going to cheat again and name three: Darkside of the Moon (Pink Floyd – I love that whole album), You are the Sunshine of my Life (Stevie Wonder) and God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You (Bee Gees).  

How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
Links to all my books are on my website, http://leighrussell.co.uk, along with links to my Facebook and twitter pages, and my blog. Readers can also find my forthcoming events listed, and contact me there with any questions.

Thank you so much for this interview!

A massive thank you Leigh for taking time out to do this interview. Hope you all enjoy it.

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