Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Leigh Russell, author of the Geraldine Steel series which have sold over a million books.
YES. I did say over a million.
Hi Leigh, thank you for agreeing to this interview. So, what have you written?
Deadly Alibi has just been published, making nine books in the Geraldine Steel series so far: Cut Short, Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead, Fatal Act, Killer Plan, Murder Ring and Deadly Alibi. Another three of my books are available in the spin-off Ian Peterson series: Cold Sacrifice, Race to Death, and Blood Axe, and a further three in my Lucy Hall mystery series: Journey to Death, Girl in Danger and The Wrong Suspect, which is out in June.
Have any of your books been nominated for an award?
My books have been shortlisted for several major awards including the CWA New Blood Dagger Award, CWA Dagger in the Library, and the People’s Book Prize. They have appeared on many bestsellers lists including The Times Best Crime Books and The Miami Examiner’s Best Fiction Books. They have reached #1 overall (not just in one category) on both Kindle and iTunes.
Do you have any hobbies?
In addition to writing, I chair the judges for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, run the CWA manuscript assessment service, and am on the committee for the CWA. I’ve recently become a Royal Literary Fellow. So all of that leaves little time for any other hobbies, but I do spend a lot of time with my family.
Can you tell us about Deadly Alibi?
With two murder victims and a suspect with a dubious alibi, Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. When her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, her problems threaten to destroy Geraldine.
Where can we buy or see them?
My books are in bookshops and libraries, and links to all my books on kindle, Kobo and itunes can be found on my website leighrussell.co.uk. They are also available on Amazon worldwide, published by Harper Collins in the US, and in translation in Germany, France, Italy and Turkey.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m currently working on the edits for Geraldine Steel number 10, and writing Geraldine Steel number 11.
What is your latest book about?
All of my Geraldine Steel books start with a murder, which she investigates as a police detective working first for the Kent Constabulary, then for the Met, and finally relocating for the police force in York. Ian Peterson is her sergeant who branches out as an inspector in his own spin-off series. My third protagonist, Lucy Hall, is an investigative reporter whose books are set in Seychelles, Paris and Rome. All three of them investigate murders, so whether you enjoy reading fairly gritty detective stories, or cosy mysteries like my Lucy Hall series, there is hopefully something for all fans of crime fiction to enjoy.
What genre are your books?
My novels are a combination of psychological crime and police procedural.
How much research do you do?
Like all crime writers my research is extensive. I have gained quite a following on the police force, who have been very helpful. I also take medical guidance when describing my dead bodies, and have been advised by a wide range of people, from firemen to prisoners, experts in DNA and geneticists to anatomical pathology technicians in mortuaries, forensic anthropologists and IT experts. Not all of my research is with leading experts in their field. I’ve spent time with market traders, hotel receptionists, race track managers and people in many other walks of life, in the course of my research. My Lucy Hall series involved my spending time in Paris and Rome, and two weeks in the Seychelles which was a fabulous trip.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
To begin with I wrote part-time. By the time five of six of my books had been published and were selling well, I was able to afford to give up my day job and write full-time. Now that we have sold over a million books, I don’t think I’ll be going back to the day job anytime soon! But you never know. Writing is a precarious career.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
I always say the best cure for writer’s block is a publisher’s deadline. Since starting to write in 2008 I have always had a publisher’s deadline to meet, so I simply don’t have time to stop, knowing my next manuscript has to be delivered. But if you’re writing and aren’t lucky enough to have a publisher giving you deadlines, you can always set your own.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I’ve never self-published a book and wouldn’t have a clue how to set about doing so. What is wonderful about having a traditional publisher is that all I have to do is write my books. My publisher provides me with my editor and proofreaders, a cover designer and production team, and publicity support. I wouldn’t know where to find such a professional support team, besides which most top editors work, whether full-time or freelance, for publishers. Not only does my publisher provide all of that for me, but he also pays me to write my books! As writing is all I want to do, everyone benefits.
Why do you think that other well-written books just don’t sell?
It’s a mystery why some books take off, and others don’t. Some books are selected for massive publicity which can boost sales, but most of us have to write our books and hope for the best. So far my books have been doing well, but the future is always uncertain. It’s not like having a regular job.
How do you relax?
Writing is my relaxation. I’m fortunate to be able to earn my living from my hobby.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Listen to other people’s opinions but always remember that you are the writer, and trust yourself. Writing is hard work and if you are ever fortunate enough to find a traditional publisher, or perhaps decide to self-publish, be prepared to dedicate a great deal of time to your writing. If you don’t absolutely love writing, find another hobby. But once you fall in love with writing, there’s no going back!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
My books are available worldwide on Amazon