E.J. Russell

Tell us about your recent Riptide release. What was the inspiration behind it?

September marks the release of Bad Boy’s Bard, the third book in my Fae Out of Water trilogy (preceded by Cutie and the Beast in July and The Druid Next Door in August). I came up with the idea for Cutie first: What if there were a psychologist whose practice was comprised of supernatural beings, and he was supernatural himself? After I got the germ of that idea, I decided I wanted to make it a series. At the time, I had been reading other “band of brothers” books, so I decided that my series would be about three brothers. Because I love Welsh mythology, I decided to make them Welsh fae.

I was originally using ballads as brainstorming prompts. In my initial notes for Bad Boy’s Bard, I call out using Orfeo as the basis for the plot. Orfeo (or Sir Orfeo) is a medieval retelling of the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. In the poem, Sir Orfeo’s wife is stolen away by the king of the fairies, and Sir Orfeo leaves his kingdom to search for her. After ten years’ search, he finds her in the fairy kingdom. Sir Orfeo plays his harp for the fairy host, and the king is so pleased that he offers him a gift. Sir Orfeo, of course, chooses to take his wife home. (Unlike the original Greek myth, the couple actually makes it home safely.)

As it turns out, I didn’t retain a lot of the Orfeo story. I’m an inveterate plotter, and as I developed the plot for Bad Boy’s Bard, it morphed into something completely different. The only things that remained from that original idea seed were Gareth’s musical talent and the fact that his lover had been “stolen” by the fae, which had catapulted the youngest Kendrick brother into centuries-long mourning—and not a little bit of anger!

It wasn’t until I was brainstorming titles with my editor that Niall’s character gelled for me. We were playing with romance tropes, and when I hit on the alliteration of Bad Boy’s Bard, I finally figured out who Niall was. When he and Gareth first meet, he’s sort of like the James Dean of the Georgian era!

What can readers expect when they read a story from you? What would you like potential readers to know about you and your books?

I’m a pretty low-angst writer, primarily because I don’t find personal catharsis from sobbing over a story or film. Just as I want to feel good when I’m reading, I want to feel good while I’m writing. I also find humor a great stress-reliever. So even if the story contains some serious elements—like the destruction of Faerie, for instance!—there’ll still be a high level of snark and a good dollop of levity. The sex frequency will usually be on the low side. Also plot. I need to have something happening besides the relationship drama!

What was the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while writing your latest release?

I really enjoyed the process of working on three related books simultaneously (although each was in a different state at any one time). It provided me the luxury, when my editor found an issue with The Druid Next Door, for instance, of going back and seeding the solution in Cutie and the Beast, and letting the result shape the plot in Bad Boy’s Bard. If the first book had already gone to print, that would have been impossible (continuity error!), and my options would have been limited. It was very freeing!

How long does it take you to write a book?

As I’ve honed my process, I’ve gotten to the point where I can plot and pound out the first draft of a novel in four to six weeks. Revising that first draft? Now that can take some time, depending on how much I agonize over it. Deadlines are a great motivator!

Describe your workspace.

I have a day job in information technology, but I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home. My office is a long, narrow space over the garage, broken up by bookshelves, with my day job desk at one end. At the other end of the room is my writing alcove, with my reference books on shelves next to a La-Z-Boy recliner (a hand-me-down from my parents). At the end of my left-brain day, I walk across the office to the recliner, where I write with my laptop literally on top of my lap, and my dog (a twelve-year-old Italian Greyhound) usually tucked next to me.

Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to cure it?

If I adhere to my normal process, I can usually avoid it because I’m a “micro-plotter”—by the time I’m ready to start drafting, I’ve got between seventy and a hundred story beats laid out, so I know the sequence of events in reasonable detail. If I short-cut the process for any reason, I can get stuck in the “what happens next?” mire. In that case, I usually start typing a conversation between two characters (my first drafts are always dialogue-heavy—maybe because I used to be an actor, so I’m used to conversations that advance the story). Even if that particular scene doesn’t make it into the final draft, it’ll at least get me unstuck.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

Well, I *may* be in discussions with my Riptide editors for a spinoff series in the Fae Out of Water universe!

Do you have a favorite quote?

I have several! But here’s a Dorothy Parker gem:
“Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.”

E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Connect with E.J.:

Website: ejrussell.com
Blog: ejrussell.com/bloggery/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/E.J.Russell.author
Twitter: twitter.com/ej_russell
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ejrussell/