I'm pleased to welcome Leigh Russell to NRC for an author interview. Gerry reviewed her novel, Cut Short, which is first in a trilogy. Here is the interview conducted by Gerry.
Having just finished Cut Short may I first say thank you for the opportunity to read it and for the enjoyment it gave me.
Thank you very much. I am so pleased you enjoyed Cut Short.
I understand you are a teacher with an emphasis in special needs. Did you foresee yourself writing books before you chose English as a subject or is book writing something you decided to later on while teaching?
I studied English because I enjoy reading without a clue that I would end up writing books myself. I had no ambitions to write but an idea occurred to me one day. I started to write it down, and was hooked. I haven't been able to stop writing since. It surprises me now that I didn't discover by my passion for writing sooner. I love it!
When you decided to write books was crime fiction your first choice of subject or did you dabble with other ideas first?
Cut Short is the first of my series of crime thrillers and the first story I have ever written.
Most authors suffer many rejections before final acceptance by a publisher. Was this the case with you?
I sent my story to three publishers who specialise in crime fiction, without any serious expectation of hearing back from any of them. Two weeks later a publisher called me to express interest and three months later I was signing a three book deal. It all happened very fast.
Did any of the rejections (assuming there were rejections) lead you to any amount of editing and rewriting?
After I signed the contract, my publisher placed my manuscript with a brilliant editor who is very experienced in the genre of crime fiction and I had to do some rewriting.
With the acceptance were there any provisos that lead to editing and rewriting?
There were no provisos as such, but I was keen to work on areas of my manuscript where my editor suggested I needed to make alterations.
Presuming that somewhere along the line from first conception to final publication there were edits and modifications, how similar is the final story to the story you first planned on writing?
The only real difference is the balance of writing between my villain and my detective, Geraldine Steel. I was fascinated by my killer and wrote pages and pages about him. Consequently I didn't write enough about my detective. My editor felt that, as the main character who will continue through the series, my detective needed to engage the readers' interest more. I could see the sense in that, so I cut some of the detail about my killer, and built my detective up more. I am very happy to listen to criticism where it makes sense to me. How else can I hope to improve as a writer?
Again, based on the previous presumption and based on the idea that there was a chance, are you happy that the final story is the one you wanted to write and not the one the publishers wanted you to write?
Yes. The plot didn't change but the balance between the characters did. I ended up telling the same story but different elements of it are emphasized.
You have 2 more books in the Geraldine Steel series, do you hope for more? Or do you have other ideas in the pipeline?
Cut Short has been selling so fast, with two reprints in six months, that it looks as though the series will run for a while. The second in the series, Road Closed, will be published in June. I am currently writing the third, and my publisher has already asked for a fourth book in the series.
With your emphasis in special needs I was wondering if you plan on books for the younger reader?
At the moment my available time is fully occupied with researching, writing and promoting the Geraldine Steel series. I would love to write a series for younger readers when I have time.
May I just say thank you again for a very enjoyable read and I look forward to the next books in the series.
Thank you very much for your interest.