Interview with Anthony F. Russo

Published 2021-11-19.
What is your writing process?
I usually start by seeing all the other books that have been written and say, "Why bother?" That's why it took me until my early forties to write my first book, and seven years to write my next. Beyond that, I do what others suggest, "read yourself full, then write." I don't believe in writer's block; take the challenge to come up with something that forces the cursor across the screen. No matter how bad it is, you can always work to fix it in the rewriting.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Believe it or not, I wasn't a reader until middle-age. I collected books, but hardly ever read them. I do remember, before I was saved, I stayed up all night and read Michael Crichton's "Rising Sun" in one night. I went to bed like 3am and had to get up for work the next day, but I couldn't put it down. That's funny since I really don't like reading fiction.
How do you approach cover design?
I have the germ of an idea of a cover. Maybe it's in the words of the title--like my first book, "Pleasant Places" obviously the cover design is in the name. You can't have some eye-popping red and wild with a title like that. Whatever it is, Jim Holmes at Great Writing takes my caveman-grunt of an idea and turns it into a finished work of art, so he deserves all the credit.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I enjoy working with words the way a carpenter loves to be out in the garage working with wood. A carpenter appreciates the texture of the wood, the gathered clumps of shavings, the smell of the sawdust, and sanding and smoothing to perfection. Creating with wood to communicate beauty and function gives a carpenter joy. Creating with words to communicate beauty and function gives me joy.
What do your fans mean to you?
I have no fans, at least I hope I don't. I hope people like what and how I write, but I don't want "fans." I want people to be inspired to be "fans" of Jesus.
What are you working on next?
I'm always working on some idea, or two, or ten. Even if it is just in my head. I'd like to write a small book about living with tinnitus. And I think I just want to write a humor book, something fun and mindless.
Who are your favorite authors?
I don't have favorite authors, really. I have favorite categories. Of course there's my daily personal Bible reading, but beyond that I do read nonfiction almost exclusively. I like Christian biographies, the Puritans... anything that challenges me.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I don't know that I'm inspired to get out of bed. It's every person's God-given duty to be productive in society, to the glory of God and the benefit of others. I'm just trying to be faithful to do my bit.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love hanging out with my wife, Amy. We co-host a podcast together, so there's that. But on the weekends we'll usually hunt for books at a thrift store or two, grab a bite to eat or hang out at a coffee shop, and end the day watching a movie or documentary or something mindless like one of those remodeling shows. Sundays are church, podcast recording, and usually evening service.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm usually on the hunt for resources about a subject I'm researching at that moment.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Not exactly, but I do remember when I was about 19-years-old I heard someone wrote a book using words that did not have the letter "e" in them. I didn't write a book, but I wrote a crazy story about a six-foot talking dog, "Monday with Otto." It read almost like stream of consciousness writing because of how clunky and odd it is grammatically when one avoids words with "e" in them. Terrible story, but fun personal challenge.
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