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Monday, 14 June 2010

Road Closed

Regular readers of this blog will know that I've been following Leigh Russell's career with interest for some time now. So I'm really pleased that she's back here to talk about her new book 'Road Closed'and answer some questions from me.

How have you balanced writing ‘Road Closed’, and your new novel ‘Dead End’, with all the promotional activity you’ve been doing for ‘Cut Short’?

I finished writing ROAD CLOSED last Autumn, since when I’ve been focusing on writing DEAD END. You’re right, I have been doing a lot of promotion for CUT SHORT, but it’s mainly on Saturdays in bookshops with only occasional evening talks during the week. In the school holidays I’m happy to do more. It is time consuming, but I enjoy every aspect of being a writer so it doesn’t feel like work. Writing is supposed to be a solitary occupation but that really hasn’t been my experience, I’ve met so many lovely people through my writing.

‘Cut Short’ has had a brilliant response. Did that put a lot of pressure on you when you were writing the follow up?

No. I enjoyed writing ROAD CLOSED as much as I enjoyed writing CUT SHORT and am now enjoying writing DEAD END… I just love writing! One advantage of being manically busy is that I genuinely haven’t had time to stress about how ROAD CLOSED is going to be received. But I think as an author you have to be an optimist.

What sort of characters do you like to create most – goodies or baddies?

Baddies definitely. They are so much more interesting than the goodies, and much more fun to write.

Geraldine Steel seems to be a big hit. Did she spring into your mind fully formed, or are you finding out more about her as you go along?

Geraldine is developing slowly. When I first wrote CUT SHORT, she played quite a minor role. I was far more interested in my killer and wrote pages and pages about him. What is it that makes one person kill another person? We might all feel like it from time to time… but that’s a life away from doing it. My editor pointed out that it is my detective my readers will follow through the series, so I had to work on building Geraldine and I found that quite hard at first. She has become far more real in my head, as her story unfolds in ROAD CLOSED and develops further in DEAD END. Now I’m wondering where to take her in book 4, and am beginning to see all sorts of possibilities for her.

What’s next for you? Are you going to continue writing books about Geraldine, or do you yearn to create a new protagonist?

My publisher has already put in an offer for a 4th book featuring Geraldine Steel and the second book has only just been printed, so for the time being I’m going to concentrate on Geraldine’s cases and her back story. As for the future – who knows? If anyone had told me two years ago that I was going to be a successfully published author, with my first book reprinted three times in its first year, I wouldn’t have believed it. The future is exciting and mysterious. I can’t even begin to predict what will happen next in my life. But I can’t ever imagine stopping writing now that I’ve discovered my passion for it. I’m absolutely hooked.

You’ve done a lot to raise the profile of your books both online and in personal appearances. Which do you enjoy most?

I prefer meeting people face to face. Communicating via technology can’t compare with gazing into someone else’s eyes as you speak, hearing the inflection of their voice when they are talking, or watching a subtle gesture. I don’t suppose I would write psychological thrillers if I didn’t find people endlessly fascinating. The plot drives my narrative, hopefully keeping my readers on the edge of their seats, but it is the characters I find most interesting… Back to your question: online or personal appearances? I find online communication easier, as I’m naturally quite shy, but I think there’s no substitute for meeting real people.

Thanks very much to Leigh for dropping by for a chat.

I'll be reviewing 'Road Closed' on Bookersatz next week, but in the meantime you can read my review of 'Cut Short' here, and you can read a review of 'The Beacon' by Susan Hill on Bookersatz now.