The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Leigh Russell

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Leigh Russell


Summary: Peter thought that author Leigh Russell captured the atmosphere of the racecourse well in Race to Death and he had quite a few questions for Leigh when she popped into Bookbag Towers.
Date: 16 October 2014
Interviewer: Peter Magee
Reviewed by Peter Magee

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Peter thought that author Leigh Russell captured the atmosphere of the racecourse well in Race to Death and he had quite a few questions for Leigh when she popped into Bookbag Towers.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Leigh Russell: That's a difficult question for me to answer, because I don't have a very efficient visual imagination. When I close my eyes I see only darkness. As I meet a lot of fans out and about on my various book tours, I do have a sense of my readers, curled up on a sofa, or sprawled in an armchair, engrossed in a book.

  • BB: Where did you get the inspiration for the DI Peterson series?

LR: Ideas can strike at any time - a snippet of conversation overheard on a train, a glance of a stranger, a discarded item of rubbish - anything at all can spark off an idea. I'm often inspired when I'm out, rather than sitting at home, but there are no rules to this game. My publisher approached me to write a second series to accompany Geraldine Steel, and a series for her sergeant was an obvious choice. Ian Peterson goes to York because I've been there a few times and love the city. It's not too large - unlike London where Geraldine works. Packed with atmosphere and history, it's the perfect setting for a crime series.

  • BB: I loved the opening to Race to Death and was impressed by the way you captured the atmosphere at the racecourse. Are you a race goer?

LR: We're not frequent race goers, but have been along to York a few times for a fun day out. I love to see crowds of people out enjoying themselves - and there is always the possibility of spotting the germ of an idea for a new character.

  • BB: I know that you live in London and went to university in Canterbury. What made you choose York as the location for the series?

LR: My husband went to York university, which is how we came to be invited to York races, on an alumni programme. We spent some time exploring the city, so when I was casting around for a setting for Ian Peterson's series, I decided on York. It was a great excuse to return, and I now go back there regularly to research my books.

  • BB: You’re probably best known for your Geraldine Steel series. What attracted you to the crime genre? Have you ever been tempted to move outside it?

LR: As with all my writing choices, this wasn't planned. I had an idea one day and began to write it down, just for myself, with no intention of seeing it published. The story wrote itself out and on the strength of that first draft I was fortunate enough to be offered a three book deal by my publisher. The books continue to sell and there are now six books published in the Geraldine Steel series, with two out for Ian Peterson. There will be two more books coming out every year, one in each series. So for the time being, I'm fully occupied writing crime novels. But as for the future, who knows? I'm often tempted to write outside the genre, it's just a question of finding the time.

  • BB: Who is your favourite crime writer?

LR: It is impossible to pick one name, but I suppose I could say Shakespeare who created such convincing murderers and victims. I must also mention the three authors who have come out publicly as fans of my work - Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver and Peter James. I am very grateful for their support.

  • BB: Where and how do you write?

LR: I write everything on an iPad, using an iPad mini when I'm out. The two devices are synced so that whatever I write when I'm away from home magically appears on the mother ship at home. I use a wirelessly attached keyboard that can be linked to either screen. When I started, I used to write in longhand and then type up my work, but I soon transferred to typing which is much faster. Delivering two manuscripts a year, this makes the workload more manageable.

  • BB: You used to be a teacher. Which three books would you recommend that parents buy for their children?

LR: That would depend on their age, of course. I would recommend To Kill a Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, and Of Mice and Men, or perhaps Wuthering Heights, or Treasure Island, or... I could go on endlessly! But it does depend on the age and interests of the child. The most important thing is for children to read books that interest and challenge them.

  • BB: You’ve got one wish. What’s it to be?

LR: That everyone in the world would put other people's interests before their own. It would change everything.

  • BB: What's next for Leigh Russell?

LR: Having just finished the seventh Geraldine Steel which will be out at the end of the year, I'm now nearly half way through writing the third Ian Peterson book, after which I'll be planning the eighth Geraldine Steel... and so on until people stop buying my books. I hope that doesn't happen, as I have a lot more ideas to write!

  • BB: There's lots more for us to look forward to there, Leigh - and thanks for chatting to us.

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