Interview with Emily Russell

When did you first start writing?
Before my fingernails were completely formed. Trust me, it's hard to find writing utensils in your mother's womb, but if you're determined...
What's the story behind your latest book?
To answer this question properly, I would reccommend reading the book. The answer is contained therein in the most complete form possible.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The carpal tunnel.

No, no, I'm going to actually answer this one seriously. The greatest joy of writing comes when you're sitting there at the computer at four o'clock in the morning in your underwear, drinking an ice-cold cup of coffee which you may or may not have been nursing for six hours, KNOWING you have to be up to start your day at eight, and it's all okay, because NONE OF THAT REALLY EXISTS.

What's real, what's going on in front of your face right now, is a scene unfolding on paper, the changes and joys of a group of people who are, in the strictest sense, completely imaginary. You are excited for these imaginary people because they're growing, changing, learning something. You can feel the snow blowing in the wind of an imaginary world on your face, feel the dampness of it collecting in your socks. You know what these people ate for dinner and whether or not it's agreeing with them. And for just a moment--or several hours, if you're good--what you have imagined, what you have put to paper, becomes life.

THAT is the ultimate joy of writing.

That, and fanart.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've always enjoyed writing, but I've also always been too damned shy to approach publishers. Rejection letters give me heartburn.

Yes, I am shy. Don't argue with me.

Indie publishing gives you the opportunity to write a story YOUR way, as YOU see fit. Sure, you might make some small copy errors you wouldn't have otherwise made, but I enjoy having nobody but me telling me who to kill and who to spare. I know how I want my story to go, and I cling to that belief with the tenacity of a rabid German Shepherd latching on to a mailman.
What do your fans mean to you?
Really? How do you expect someone to answer this?

Fans are everything. Though you write for yourself, you need someone to tell you if you're doing it right, to encourage your two-bit pathetic carcass to get up in the morning, NOT sling on a tie and go nine to five, and pound some keys. Fans do this.

They're your mother, massaging your wounded ego and offering warm praise for your successes.

They're your father, telling you when you've done wrong and asking you to make it better.

They're your children, the people who depend on you, and who you never want to disappoint.

They're your friends, who you might argue with on occasion, and who might, every once in a while, be closer to right than you are.
What are you working on next?
I've got another series, Aurian and Jin, available over on Amazon--it's a whole lot funnier than The King's Might, and a lighter read. The second book, Little Bird, will be available 9/21/15, and hopefully soon I can move that stuff over here too. Until then, a messy ol' link:

I'm also working on a steampunkish story, set in a fantasy world reminiscent of the British Raj. Because sometimes, your steampunkish country is the imperial aggressor. I honestly don't know how this doesn't happen more often in steampunk.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
This is the part where I lie and tell you I have interesting hobbies, isn't it? Sad truth is, there isn't a lot of time I DON'T spend writing. Here's my weekly breakdown, for those of you whom, like myself, prefer answers to questions like this in quantitative form:

ONE WEEK (168 hours)

40 hours--working at that horrible nine to five job we indies often have and don't like to admit to needing
42 hours--sleeping
10.5 hours--stuffing my face
14 hours--reading
14 hours--vainglorious self promotion
14 hours--writing and editing
1.5 hours--wondering idly if this will be the week my beloved but ancient cat finally shuffles off this mortal coil and goes to kitty heaven
10 hours--talking to friends and family, usually about how I should be writing or whether or not kitty is in kitty heaven yet
8 hours--drinking, indulging in tears of maudlin self pity because I can't strike out and write all by my delicate snowflake self, but must instead be dependent on that Great Satan, the nine to five job
14 hours--all those cool hobbies I'm supposed to have, which basically boil down to some drawing and delivering emotionally-charged invective.
What is your writing process?
Oh. Oh, THIS question. While I would like to answer this quantitatively, like I answered the last one, such a tangled and cobwebby process cannot be so defined.

In the beginning, before any writing is attempted, my boyfriend sees a glimmer of idea building behind my eyes. Familiar with this process, he goes online and purchases chloroform, which he keeps hidden in the dark spaces of our home, where he knows I won't find it until it's too late.

First off, I daydream. This is, in my opinion, a very important step that many people forget. I sit on a bench and reflect on my idea, grab a cup of coffee, smoke a few ruminative cigarettes. I do this on and off for about a week.

Next, I start my draft. Do I know precisely what's going on, what colors my characters prefer their dining sets to be, or even how the story will end? No. Hell, no. All that stuff's for editing. I have a basic idea for a story--man marries unlikely woman, woman is wanted by police, woman somehow saves world. The rest fills in as I go. I try to see the story as I write it, hear my characters' voices as they speak. There can be no story, I think, unless your characters drive it. This first draft takes me maybe two to three months of hardcore careless keyboard vomit to finish.

I let it sit for a few weeks while I drink and brag to my friends, who are entirely sick of hearing about my novel and how I've finished it.

Then, I edit. Oh, I edit. I add in mostly, removal is for people who like the sound of their own voices less than I do. I tailor the curves of my story, make the plot elements fit together better. I make sure I've spelled names the same way all the way through, which is actually harder to do than you'd think it would be. I check for word choice and add in more description where I think it fits.

I let it sit for a week or so.

I edit again.

Let it sit.


Finally, after repeating this stage like fifty times, I send my final draft off to my wonderful proofers, whose grammar and knowledge of the whys and wheretofores of fantasy novels are excellent, and they tell me what I've done wrong. Final draft becomes penultimate draft as I edit again.

Eventually, my boyfriend comes in and forces my itchy and red-rimmed eyes away from the computer screen and onto his face. "You've been in here for too long," he says gently. "Just press send. How much more can you possibly edit?"

"But I could still probably tweak the SHIT grlflrglblrt," I mutter, as he chloroforms me and drags me away. He probably presses send for me, I don't know. Otherwise, I suppose I have a surprise coming in September.

After a few more weeks of drinking and anxious attempts to focus on my nine-to-five, we're ready to start the process again.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I think the first story I read that had much of an impact on me was Ursula K. LeGuin's A Wizard of Earthsea when I was eight or so. These books are evocative at any age, meaningful at any age, written in the sort of brilliant spare prose that reveals a lot with a very small amount of ballast. These books have remained in my mind as the books all fantasy SHOULD be.
How do you approach cover design?
With a graphic designer who loves and tolerates me. And who is--I'm so not ever ashamed to admit this--my talented mom, who's been doing this for thirty-five years!
Describe your desk
I write on my Kindle Fire, and am proud of it. It's small, delightfully thin, air-light, and I can pop it out and write a few sentences wherever I happen to be. If I didn't have this thing I would be the color of sugar cookie dough, and would probably explode at the touch of sunlight.
Published 2015-07-19.
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Books by This Author

The King's Might
Price: Free! Words: 59,970. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
In the world of Averdan, nothing is quite as it seems--and a young prince, haunted by dreams of an ancient magic, will discover this at his own peril. Can First Prince Jalith, a Northerner poised to inherit a Southern throne, learn to reconcile what he's learned with what his blood tells him? For, if he can balance the North and the South inside him, he could become more than he ever dreamed.