Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rebecca Ryals Russell

Today my guest is young adult author, Rebecca Ryals Russell.  Ms. Russell's book, Seraphym Wars Book 1: Odessa will be released by MuseItUp Publishing in April, 2011.

1)    Tell me a little about your book.

Seraphym Wars Book 1: Odessa is a YA Dark Fantasy. Odessa is the first in a series of 4 or 5. It is about Myrna Watts who at 18 is yanked from her home on Earth after witnessing the burning alive of her brother. She finds herself on a primal planet filled with demon-dragons. She reluctantly learns that to return home she must fulfill her destiny written by prophecy thousands of years earlier. In order to do that she must find the remaining 6 teens called The Vigorios and get them all to the island of the Majikals where they will train to battle the demons alongside the Seraphym in the final battle between Good and Evil.

2)    What gave you the idea for this particular story?
The series is based on actual news events of atrocities committed around the world on a daily basis. The storyline has been rattling around my head for about 30 years waiting to come to fruition on the page.

3)    Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am now a full-time writer. I retired from teaching Middle Grades 3 years ago in order to write. I basically write all day whenever I get a chance. I still have school-aged kids at home so there are many breaks throughout the day to run them here or there, help with homework, fix meals, etc. I also stay up late into the night in order to write once everyone is in bed. During the school year that is harder to do because I have a morning school run.

4)    When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. I still have the stories and poems I wrote from age 8 onward – most are even illustrated. In college I had quite a few stories and poems published in the college literary magazine.

5)    What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
It is my hope that kids and adults who read my books will begin looking at the news with new eyes. I fear too many people don’t see the creeping evil that is easing its way into our lives like a snail that eats a plant before you realize it’s even there.

6)    Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write Picture Books, Middle Grade Fantasy, and YA Dark Fantasy. I love writing all three.

7)    What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The hardest part of being a writer is the promoting because I’d rather be writing and I’m shy about talking to people face to face about my book or myself.

8)    Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Many of the events in my book are based on news accounts. The opening scene where Myrna sees her brother burned to death occurred in Florida recently when a young boy was severely burned because he borrowed money from another boy and could not pay him back. I also talk about the girl who was raped after the prom in California and dogs thrown to their deaths from an overpass in Florida; I could go on and on. There is just so much evil in the world I could not imagine any worse events for my own story.

9)    How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
A little, but she is actually a conglomeration of my children. She is shy like me and capable like me and my children. Unlike us, however, she accepts her situation a lot easier than we would, I think. I believe I would be paralyzed if confronted by demons or dragons.

10)    What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I actually did a lot of research. I had to search for the news accounts, Latin translations for place names, historical information on witchcraft and demons, geographical data to build the world, and astrology and baby names to create my characters.

11)    Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
I don’t have a lot of trouble with violent scenes, but I think mine may be pretty basic. I haven’t tried writing sex scenes since I write for kids, but I would have a lot of trouble if I tried. I keep the romance pretty tame.

12)    What about your book makes it special?
My book is unique because it uses actual news accounts without much tweaking.

13)    What is your marketing plan?
I’m in the process of developing my plan.

14)    Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have several places readers can see more:

15)    Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
Read, read, read in the genre of your interest, make tons of notes and practice what you like by writing, writing, writing.

Rebecca, thank you for being my guest today and sharing your writing life.


  1. Great interview, Rebecca. My teens beg me to turn the news off, it's so harrowing these days. Looking forward to reading your book and best wishes with it!

  2. Hi Karen, glad you could stop by. I'm also looking forward to reading this series.

  3. Nice interview Penny. The more I here about The Seraphym Wars, the more I want to read it Rebecca. But I have to wait til April... sigh.


  4. Sara, sometimes the enjoyment is greater when we have to wait.