A writer like you: Barbara Russell

A writer like you: Barbara Russell

Meet Barbara Russell, an entomologist and soil biologist.

(Basically she digs in the dirt, looking for bugs.)

Nature and books have always been her passion. She fell in love with fantasy novels as a kid when she read The Lord of the Rings. She also enjoys cosy mysteries and crime novels like Hercules Poirot and Sherlock Holmes. “Then I grew up,” she says. “And…Nah, I’m joking. I didn’t grow up. Don’t grow up, folks! It’s a trap.”

You’ll enjoy Barbara’s sense of humor, her writing process, and her writer dreams.

Let’s dive into the interview, shall we?

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

After reading The Lord Of The Rings. I wanted to be like Tolkien (so silly of me, lol. There’s only one Tolkien.) Still, I can remember the awe while I was reading and the feeling of wanting to do the same, to be able to picture scenes only with words.

I wrote my first novel when I was 10. Well, for me it was a full novel, haha, but the word count was merely 800 words. Anyway, it was the story of a space bear who lived in a planet populated by bears. Each bear had the coat of just one colour, while the protag had a multi-coloured coat, and everyone gave him sideways glances for that.

He started a quest to find someone who could dye his coat and turn it completely brown. He travelled up and down the galaxy and found nothing.

At the end, he said, “Screw it,” and he kept his multi-coloured coat.

Now, before you think that the story has a morale, that it’s about accepting yourself, etc… let me tell you this: it doesn’t. I just got tired of writing and ended the story there.

Do you have any tips for overcoming writer's block?

I don’t want to jinx myself *fingers crossed* but so far, I’ve never had a writer’s block. I always start writing the outline first, so if the story doesn’t work, I change it or leave it and start a new outline. Once I start writing the novel, I don’t stop until it’s finished. I have an OCD about writing. I feel guilty when I’m not writing or when I write less than 3K per day. It’s a bit exhausting.

Describe your typical writing process or routine.

I start with a blurb, just to see if the story has a hook and makes sense. Then I expand the blurb into a synopsis. After that, I start the outline, chapter by chapter. It helps me to see if the story flows. I don’t add all the subplots at this stage. I develop them while writing. The writing itself is fun! All the plotting is fun too, but sometimes I can see that the story doesn’t work or it needs some major re-plotting, and I have to start again. 

What writing advice would you give other writers like yourself?

Read everything, from memoirs to sci-fi novels. I love fiction, but true stories are the amazing. There’s a lot to learn from non-fiction books as a writer, and you never know what might inspire you.

What are you currently working on, and what makes you excited about it?

I’m working on a new series. I’ve recently published The Heart Collector-Auckland Steampunk#1, which is the first book of a planned series, a romantic suspense novel. I’ve already written the first seven books of the series (they needs a few rounds of edit though). So I wanted to take a break from that and start something new. It’s set in the Victorian Era. I love Victorian novels and writing in that setting for many reasons. I love the dresses (aside from the blasted corsets), the social setting gives a lot of material for conflict, and it reminds me of Sherlock Holmes’s novels. I have a passion for crime/mystery stories. Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie are my favourite authors, along with Tolkien and J. K. Rowling.

What is your ultimate writer dream?

Make people laugh when they read my book, make them forget about stressful jobs, the mortgage, and all the other things that overwhelm us.

What authors or books are inspiring you lately?

Bec McMaster! She writes, surprise-surprise, steampunk novels. I just love her stories, her gorgeous writing, and her characters. I think she could write a shopping list, and I’d read it.

What question have you always wanted to be asked?

If you choke a Smurf, of what colour does he turn?

The same colour he turns when he’s freezing.

When a whale wants to insult another whale, what does it say?

You’re a Moby Dick.

 Where can we connect with you?

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Medium, or my blog.

You can find my book The Heart Collector on Amazon or GoodReads.

Thanks, Barbara.

My FREE THE WRITER takeaway from Barbara is to remember to have fun. Writing is meant to be enjoyable, so instead of stressing about the particulars, let’s free the writer this week by writing something just for fun.

You with me?

Rachel

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