Monday, February 10, 2014

Dead End by Leigh Russell: Interview and Excerpt


 



INTERVIEW



Welcome!  Thanks for being here and for agreeing to answer a few questions.  Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask?

I am grateful to the many fans who take the trouble to contact me via my website, and social network sites. Most of the questions ask when my next book will be available. Readers also frequently ask me about Geraldine Steel's relationships, and Ian Peterson's marriage. I always respond in person, although I don't always have an answer to the questions!


What do you think makes a good story?

Any book opens with a question: who committed the murder? will the girl find romance? Wanting to find the resolution keeps readers turning the pages. But that isn't enough. In addition, readers have to engage with characters so they care what happens to them. Finally, a good story has to be well written so the reader is transported into the world of the book.

 

Is there one passage in your book that you feel gets to the heart of your book and would encourage people to read it? If so, can you share it?

Most reviewers describe my books as 'page turners'. In common with all crime fiction, my books are plot driven. But characters lie at the heart of all my writing. This passage comes from Cold Sacrifice, the first book of my spin off series for Geraldine Steel's sergeant, Ian Peterson. Ian muses that 'The act of murder signified so much more than one terrible death; it triggered worlds of unseen suffering.' Sadly we know that losing someone we love changes the world. Part of our life has gone. Those of us left behind are not the same. To lose someone in a sudden and violent way must be hard to deal with. In my books I try to pay respect to the human aspect of murder, considering the effect on the people who were close to the murder victims. I think this may be why Peter James, the UK's leading crime writer, said I write with 'a deeply human voice.'

 

Tell us about your next release.

This year sees the the UK publication of the sixth book in the Geraldine Steel series in the UK. Already available as an ebook, Fatal Act follows Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed and Stop Dead, each of which centres around a murder investigation carried out by my detective, Geraldine Steel,

'One of the most interesting detectives of all time' (Miami Examiner). At the end of the year the seventh Geraldine Steel will be out as an ebook. This year also sees the publication of the second title in the spin off series for Geraldine's sergeant, Ian Peterson, following Cold Sacrifice. So far the books have been very popular in the UK, hitting the bestseller lists and reaching number 1 on kindle and iTunes. Now that my books are being published in the US by Harper Collins, at a rate of one a month, I'm hoping they will prove a success across the pond as well!


When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

When Lee Child, creator of Jack Reacher, said that 'nothing of value was ever achieved in the morning', that struck a chord with me. I'm definitely not at my best before midday. At home I write on my ipad. When I'm out, my ipad mini goes with me. I rarely survive a whole day without writing, but producing a book doesn't only involve working on the keyboard. I spend a lot of time thinking, plotting, and doing research. So it's impossible to say how many hours a day I spend writing because in some ways I never stop. As Eugene Ionesco said: 'A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of writing or thinking about writing.'


What is the hardest part of writing your books?

The last chapter I write is invariably the hardest. It may not be the last chapter the reader comes across, as I sometimes write the concluding chapter before completing the manuscript. But writing the final words is hard because, then as a writer you have to let go. The book becomes an independent entity that has to succeed or fail on its own merits. And any author will tell you, that is scary! 


Where do you research for your books?

A crime writer relies on many contacts, both on the police force and elsewhere. My own contacts vary from world experts on DNA and psychotherapy, to market traders and firemen. An idea occurs to me around which a story builds. When I need any information, I look for someone who can help me. In my experience, people are always helpful and always willing to share their expertise.


Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

I always encourage people who love the creative process of writing. Of course, earning a living from writing fiction is very gratifying. It means there are a lot of people who enjoy reading my books. But the likelihood is that no one else will ever read what you write. There is only a very slim chance that what you are writing will appeal to an agent or even a publisher. So if anyone is writing only because they want to be be published, I would suggest they find something else to do. Being a published author is great, but the real thrill is the writing.


Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

Names are very important, and can be very difficult to choose. I have to feel in my mind what a character is like, and names have so many associations, unconscious and conscious. Recently I realised that I had killed a character who had the same name as one of my facebook friends. Having changed the name, I mentioned the incident on facebook, without mentioning the name. I was amazed when a host of comments appeared on my facebook page from people who wanted to have see their names in one of my books. Some people begged to be killers, others wanted to be victims, yet more said they didn't mind in what context their names were used, they just wanted to see their names in a Geraldine Steel book.


Who should play you in a film of your life? 

Someone who looks half my age, and is twice as beautiful... could be almost any actress! 

 

 



Book Details:

Genre: Mystery & Detective; Women Sleuths
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: 1/28/2014
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 9780062325631
Series: DI Geraldine Steel #3, Stand Alone
Purchase Links:

Synopsis:


When headmistress Abigail Kirby’s corpse is discovered in the woods, police are shocked to learn that her tongue was cut out while she lay dying. Then, shortly after a witness comes forward, he is blinded and murdered. With mangled dead bodies appearing at an alarmingly increasing rate, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is in a race against time to find the killer before he claims his next victim....


Read an excerpt:


Abigail Kirby lay on the table like a waxwork model, her face cleaned-up to reveal her square chin. Geraldine approached and forced herself to look at the victim's open mouth: between even teeth the stump of her tongue looked surprisingly neat. Abigail Kirby stared back as though in silent protest at this scrutiny.
The pathologist looked up and Geraldine recognized the tall dark-haired medical examiner who had examined the body in the wood. 'Hello again Inspector. You'll forgive me if I don't shake hands.'
Geraldine glanced down at his bloody gloves.


Author Bio:

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English. For many years a secondary school English teacher, she is a creative writing tutor for adults. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in North West London. Her first novel, Cut Short, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award in 2010. This was followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead and Fatal Act, in the Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel series. Cold Sacrifice is the first title in a spin off series featuring Geraldine Steel's sergeant, Ian Peterson.

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3 comments:

Lance Wright said...

It's interesting to see how much thought writers put into what readers probably consider to be incidental details, like a character's name. Thanks so much for such an insightful interview.

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you for stopping by to comment, Lance!

Jacques Marais said...

It's the detail that captures my attention, those tiny pieces of DNA act as translucent silk threads drawing me into the web. Confession: until I read of your course on Skyros (my favourite place in Europe) I had not heard of you, now I am excited to follow your work. Humility and joy are not only attractive, they engender in those who are triggered by these qualities a sense of old knowing, of association, even with complete strangers. You have a gift in your creativity and a willingness to allow us into your mind that not many writers can... I see what you see through your books.... it's all in the detail. Congratulations