Sunday, August 28, 2011

IWU! Blog Tour welcomes Todd Russell!

                                                      This week it is my pleasure to welcome  indie horror writer Todd Russell. Todd will tell us why he loves reading and writing scary stories. This should be scary--I mean interesting!
Welcome, Todd.
1 Tell us about you upcoming release.

My debut novel Fresh Flesh, a psychological thriller horror story washes ashore 9-29-2011.

2 What is the book about?

Shipwrecked Jessica is rescued, cherished and trained to survive on a strange island by a man who is not what he seems.

3 How did you come up with the title of your book?

The man that rescues Jessica sees her as something fresh washing ashore. The flesh part will become clear once readers learn what is going on with the man and the island.

4 Did anything special inspire you to write this particular story? Why?

I wasn't happy with my first two novels written in the mid to late 80s. I've seen several writers say that their first two written novels weren't very good and the third book was when things came together. Fresh Flesh is my third completed novel.

The story idea first came in 1987 and the first draft was written in 1988. It's gone through several revisions over the years up to and including a decent amount of brand new material in 2011.

So it's a work that took roughly 25 years of aging to come to fruition.

5 Tell us a little about any current works in progress.

Recently I started writing a new short story every work day. As of this writing, I've written a week's worth consecutively, so no significant streak yet, but I have a feeling (hope) it might go awhile. I'm not worried about running out of story ideas I'm worried about getting distracted and sidetracked.

This project is paying homage to an online writing area at AOL that I was fond of in the late 90s which came out with weekly writing prompt contests.  It stirred my creative fires. I use these shorts as warm-up exercises and then get into some meatier--in terms of number of words, not value or importance--works. I love the beauty in brevity of short stories and it's an art that a writer can lose if s/he doesn't continue to work at it.

I have several longer WIPs at various stages. I've outlined most of the second book in the Fresh series and will be starting the first draft soon. I have made notes on many possible future Fresh series stories, so depending on time, energy and interest, there could be many future books in the series.

Another story, this one a pantser (no outline) and so far seems aimed at fans of Death Race 2000 and Soylent Green. No idea how long this will be but it's heavy on my mind at the moment which means it's getting significant new word priority.

6 What do you as an author find as the most challenging aspect of writing? How do you deal with this?

Focus can be very difficult. It's so easy to jump from project to project without completing already started works. I have several story ideas bouncing around in my head competing for attention. The muse sort of dictates which one to work on because a powerful scene or character is more valuable to me to get out than forcing a scene I'm less excited in writing because it's next in line.

Completing a work brings me a tremendous amount of self-confidence, so it's important for me to keep completing works. Even if the works in the editing stage are deemed non-publishable or needing significant work to become publishable.

How I've dealt with this over 30+ years I've been writing has changed. Lately, I'm doing this by using short stories to finish more works more often. I've also cut down on the amount of time spent doing non-new-writing activities, so I can focus more on writing new words. I also have a couple regular activities like the weekly #SampleSunday on Twitter (I've done 21 consecutive Sundays to date) and a daily history-related tweet (daily since June 2011).

7 What are you currently reading?

Please follow me on Goodreads: -- I track all the books I'm reading there and some at LibraryThing. As of this writing I'm re-reading The Raven & Other Classic Poe Stories and first reading Dead Man's Eye by Shaun Jeffrey.

8 If you could coauthor a story with any writer out there—deceased or alive—who would it be? Or would you even consider collaboration?

I tried some collaboration in the 90s with a few other writers. I would love to collaborate with any of my three favorite writers: Robert McCammon, Stephen King and on the TV side, Rod Serling (R.I.P).

I'd be open to co-authoring the right kind of story with one or more co-authors as long as our styles were compatible. That's the big hurdle. I don't think collaborations work as good if the styles are too different. And just because writers are in the same genre doesn't mean they can collaborate well on something. As a reader, I'm not as excited by collaborative works as single author works.

Then again two of the story ideas I have are ripe for multiple co-authors to work on and would be something that might even work well with different writing styles.

Collaboration is fun and an interesting way to work on a story. If another author enjoys my work and thinks we could create an awesome together, please feel free to hit me up and let's chat.

9 Writing can be very challenging—what do you do to just “get away” for a break every so often?

My wife and I love to get in the car and drive, destination unknown. We are a relatively short drive from the beach, the mountains and all kinds of wonderful places in between.

10 What do you like LEAST about writing?

Nothing. I enjoy every step in the creative writing process:

11 Any advice for beginning authors?

At the infant stage in my publishing career, I don't feel qualified giving beginning authors advice. There are a ton of other authors with more publishing experience than me. Please follow-up and ask me this question again in 5-10+ years and maybe I'll feel experienced enough then to answer.

As for advice for beginning writers? Let me quote from a blog post I wrote titled: Most Important Writing Skill -

"The skill that young (in career, not just age) writers need to develop most IMHO is the discipline to take an idea from conception to completion to maturation to publishing."

12 Tell us about your other published works.

Mental Shrillness is a collection of six horror short stories available in paperback and ebook (multiple formats). Two of the stories are award winners and so far the book has received good overall reviews. There are also four bonus stories and author's notes on all the stories for those who like to learn more about how the stories originated.

13 How can readers contact you?

Preferred method is to use the contact form on my website:

OR ... if we follow each other on Twitter readers are welcome to DM:

There's also Facebook, Goodreads and many other social networks I belong to that are too numerous to list here. If you try to reach me through the social networks and I don't respond within 1-2 business day then I probably missed the contact. Please use the contact form at my website.

I love communicating with readers, so please don't be shy!

List of purchase links for Todd's books.

Amazon US (paperback contains an exclusive story)

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble NOOK

Kobo (on sale as of this writing)

Apple iTunes / iBookstore

Smashwords (multiple e-formats, great for friends outside the US)

Not through yet, readers!

And best of all, Todd is sponsoring a contest! He will give away a free ebook of Mental Shrillness for the three best follow-up interview questions in the comment section between now and September 29, 2011. Rock and roll, let's see some weird, wild and wonderful questions :) Come on commenters--let's hear from you!

Thank you very much for the interview, Alan!

Horrifically Yours,
Todd Russell



  1. Good interview, Todd. I am wondering if you are able to tap into your dreams or nightmares for ideas? Victoria Roder

  2. Great question, Victoria. Yes, some life experiences seep into my stories. I'm also inspired by historical events and news that touch me in some way, often indirectly.