Leigh Russell’s new book, Killer Plan, adds to her already impressive body of work. I caught up with the busy author again to find out what she has been up to since we last spoke.
1. Hi Leigh, the Geraldine Steel series and Ian Peterson spin off series have been optioned by Avalon Television Ltd. The prospect of seeing them come to life on screen must be exciting so how did you feel when you first heard the news?
It’s very exciting knowing that Geraldine Steel may be appearing on television, but it’s a long process, and there’s no guarantee it will happen. All I can say is, watch this space!
2. Will you be acting as a consultant at all on the production?
Creating a television series is a different artistic endeavour to writing books. Avalon is a very experienced company that has produced a lot of material on television, so I’m happy to leave the production side of it to them. The only request I made was that Geraldine be played by an actor who is credible as an intelligent driven career woman. She is not a pretty girl barely out of her teens.
3. The good news continues because I understand that you’ve also secured a three book deal with Thomas & Mercer, congratulations. What can you tell us about that?
I recently signed a contract for a three book deal with Thomas and Mercer, the crime imprint of Amazon Publishing, which is very exciting. In her early twenties, Lucy Hall inadvertently becomes involved in a murder case. The first of the series, Journey to Death, is set in the Seychelles. I have just spent two weeks there, visiting the inner islands, talking to police officers at a regional police station and spending time with an inspector at the central police station in the capital, Victoria, as well as visiting many fabulous and fascinating locations around Mahe. I watched the sun set over the Indian Ocean while researching different cocktails, which was tough. I like to be thorough in my research! I was also privileged to receive an invitation to visit the British High Commissioner of the Seychelles while I was there. So it was a really enjoyable trip, researching the first book in my new Lucy Hall series.
4. Does this new agreement mean that your relationship with No Exit Press is now at an end?
No. My Geraldine Steel series for No Exit Press will continue uninterrupted. I have been with No Exit Press since 2009, when Cut Short, my debut crime novel, came out. I have no intention of leaving No Exit. However, we will probably abandon the spin off series for Ian Peterson. Thomas & Mercer are publishing two Lucy Hall books in 2016. With another Geraldine Steel title out in 2016, that will be three new books published next year. I think that’s enough in one year!
5. You recently appeared at Crimefest: on the panel for ‘Crafting Crime…’ and taking centre stage with ‘Gender Issues…’ How did they compare and were there any surprises?
It’s fun to join in a panel discussion, and the panel on Crafting Crime Fiction was very enjoyable. The only surprise was to see a full audience at nine o’clock in the morning! As usual, the other authors on the panel were very interesting, as were the other panels I watched. Linda Regan nearly came to blows with another author over whether their characters were ‘real’ which was very entertaining. One of the great pleasures of conventions like CrimeFest is catching up with old friends like Lee Child and James Runcie, and meeting others for the first time, including some fellow No Exit authors. Breakfast with Robert Olen Butler, followed by morning coffee with Luke McCallin, made for an interesting day! Far too much eating and drinking though.
7. Crime Fiction is still retaining its popularity but do you think that at times its violence could be seen as gratuitous even though it’s confined to the pages of a book?
It is difficult to judge what is an acceptable level of violence for a book since every reader has different views on this. Some readers criticise my books as being too gritty, while others would like to see more graphic descriptions of violence in them. Certainly there was a trend in crime fiction around five or six years ago to become increasingly violent. The genre moved towards horror as many authors competed to be more shocking than other writers. Thankfully that movement has waned and there is currently a growing taste for psychological crime fiction, which suits me fine. But sadly real life can be more violent than any fiction.
8. What’s more important for a writer to have, confidence, resilience, or flexibility, and why?
This is an interesting question. All three are essential qualities for a writer, but I would say confidence is probably the most important of the three. As a writer you have to trust yourself.
9. You write full-time within a competitive marketplace which has its own unique pressures so how do you continue to come up with new ideas?
Luckily, I seem to have plenty of ideas. The problem for me is not thinking up ideas, but finding the time to write the books around them. I have no idea where my ideas come from. If they dry up, I’ll stop writing and do something else, but I can’t see that ever happening.
10. When you have a new book to promote do you find it hard to keep the momentum going and how long do you generally conduct your promotions for?
Writing two books a year – three next year – there always seems to be a new book coming out soon, or just published. While I tend to promote my books throughout the year, my publisher is keen on organising promotion for books when they first come out. There are several events planned for the launch of Killer Plan which has just been published in paperback, including afternoon tea at the Wallace Collection which should be fun. But books seem to maintain their own momentum. Cut Short reached #287 on kindle today, and that title came out in 2009.
11. Finally, readers are important so does their feedback on your books/characters ever influence what you write going forward and if it doesn’t, do you think that it should?
It’s enjoyable to interact with readers, and they can be very helpful. After all, they are the ones who read my books. When I was writing my second book, Road Closed, I had decided to give Geraldine Steel a new sergeant but a group of readers protested that they liked Ian Peterson, Geraldine Steel’s sergeant in Cut Short. So I kept Ian Peterson in the Geraldine Steel series. As it turned out it was just as well I did because he now has his own spin off series.
Killer Plan is out now.