I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and got lots of books! As this year is coming to an end I have a very special treat. An interview with a fantastic author whose books I discovered this year. This author is the talented Chris Russell, author of the addictive Songs About a Girl trilogy.
In case you’re wondering here is the Goodreads synopsis for book one:
Charlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs…
Now without further ado, let the interview commence!
1. How long have you been writing?
I’ve always written, really. English was my favourite subject at school, and I studied it at university too. I began writing regularly in my mid-twenties, when my band, The Lightyears, started touring internationally and I chronicled our adventures in an online tour diary. That led to becoming a freelance music writer and, eventually, a novelist. I’ve been a published author since July 2016.
2. It appears that music and literature are your passions (mine too!). Have you always wanted to combine the two?
Absolutely. The chemistry between music and words has always fascinated me, and I think that’s probably the case for most songwriters. I knew from a very early stage that I wanted to bring my fictional boy band, Fire&Lights, to life, and writing some of their songs was the first step in that process. Now they’re on Spotify and even have their own Twitter feed!
3. Which of your characters is most like you and why?
I’d like to say Yuki, because, he’s my favourite, but he’s also a lot cooler than I am! My wife is convinced that Melissa is just a female teenage version of me, which is probably more accurate. 🙂
4. Do you read bad reviews of your books? How do you deal with them?
As a general rule, no. On occasion I’ve come across harsh reviews by accident, and I can’t say it’s done me much good. I’ve found myself obsessing over tiny details, and I don’t think that’s particularly healthy. Of course, it’s vitally important that authors are self-critical (I’m not sure you could write decent novels if you weren’t) , but that’s not quite the same thing. For me, the constructive criticism of editors and proofreaders is far more useful when it comes to improving your craft – they’ll be brutally honest with you, but they’re always on your side, so you know it’s coming from the right place.
5. If you could travel to any fictitious world for a day, what would it be and why?
This is straying from the literary world a bit, but I think I’d have to say the goblin Kingdom from Labyrinth! Plus I’d get to hang out with David Bowie, which would be AMAZING.
6. Where do you do most of your writing and why?
I’ve experimented with different venues over the years – libraries, coffee shops, trains, – but most of the time I write at home, in my flat. Not the most exciting answer, unfortunately! Although, perhaps unusually , I do write almost the entirety of my novels standing up. That not only keeps me alert and burns calories, but I’m pretty sure my spine will be thanking me in a few decades’ time!
7. What writers do you look up to?
I’ve always loved the late, great Douglas Adams, not just for the quality and originality of his writing, but for his incredible intelligence and wit. “I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day”. Hell yes, Douglas.
8. How do you choose names for your characters?
Normally, I go on gut instinct. Charlie Bloom came to me almost instantly, for example. I knew I wanted something unisex and down-to-earth, and Charlie Bloom immediately made me think of Charlie Brown and Charlie Bucket (two great characters!). Her surname was supposed to be a veiled reference to Judy Blume, and also how Charlie grows up over the course of the trilogy.
9. Do you google yourself?
OF COURSE NOT.
Ok, yes. I have been known to. Not so much anymore, but when I first got my book deal I found it kind of irresistible for a while. Never trust anyone who claims not to have googled themselves, that’s what I say. 🙂
10. How long did it take you to write your first book?
My very first novel – before I got into writing for teens – was called Mockstars, and that was basically my apprenticeship. Mockstars took me a good five years to write, because I wasn’t just learning how to write that book, I was learning to write any book. I’m much quicker nowadays, but only because I put that time in back in the beginning.
So, that’s it for the interview. Thank you so much Chris for allowing me to ask you some questions! You can find Chris over on Twitter @chrisrusselluk and if you haven’t read Songs About a Girl then you must amend that immediately before the release of the third and final (cries) book.