Monday, November 18, 2013

David Russell, Self's Blossom and Other Writing

AUTHOR: David Russell
BOOK TITLE: Self’s Blossom
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: Extasy (Devine Destinies) › Books  Romance  Westerns
Self's Blossom eBook: David Russell: Kindle Store.

Please tell us your latest news. My short story Darlene was released by Extasy on Monday July 15th

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? I am part-time; I have to engineer slots for writing

When and why did you begin writing? When I was a student; I had to express myself with originality.

What inspired you to write your first book? Another poet showed appreciation of my work at a live reading

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing? These days I do some secretarial work, and quite a lot of editing of other people’s work

What are your thoughts about promotion? It is vital to make a thorough probe of Review Sites, and to join groups like British Romance Fiction; this will make a network of fellow writers.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? This one:

I can in no way in hell rate this novel. Sorry. I don’t even know if i can write a cohesive review for it!

First of all, it’s written by a guy, in a woman’s point of view. This technique is in no way new, untried, or even unusual. What makes this book stand out like a sore, rotten thumb is the way Russell take on the technique. Existentialist, Russell is not. Dude trying to write like a 19th century classical novelist, sort of. Russell makes Selene out to be this ancient-soul-in-a-young-body (figuratively) woman, who is on this self-righteous journey to discover herself, hence the title, Self’s Blossom. Instead, Russell takes us on a painfully verbose trudge through an incredibly boring, self-entitled, shallow woman’s mind. Literally. Way too often, an event in the book is preambled by one of Selene’s pages-long self-analysis. It’s even worse when Russell has his characters tackling some ‘liberating’ issue. Sex does not liberate a woman! Obsession with a man does not liberate a woman! Liberation for Selene would have been her ditching her whiny-ass friend, finding a job she enjoyed, and letting go of all her melodramatic bullshit from her past–not running away from her problems, mooning over the whiny friend’s statements, seducing strangers, and molesting ocean waves. This book riles up the pissed-off feminist in me.

The prose was on this side of unreadable. If I were reading an essay written for a college-level sophomore English class by some long-dead existentialist author expounding on the facts, or lack thereof, of life, I would be more accepting of this sort of writing in a modern novel. In this day and age, there just isn’t a place for such flowery, purple-prosed, extravagant droning verbiage. I enjoy intellectual fiction. As an English major, I have to read quite a bit of it. I can see where a novel like this–minus the ‘erotic’ portions, may have an extremely remote resemblance to the great novels of Sylvia Plath, D. H. Lawrence, distantly, Camus, Kate Chopin.

Self’s Blossom has this vaguely nihilist, Kafka-esque air about it. I think maybe if Russell hadn’t attempted to write an ‘erotic’ novel, had not made Selene so self-important and broadened her internalizations—

No. I was trying to find something positive to say. But no…I just can’t even fake it.

I’ll never tell anyone not to buy a book. I’m —-> <—– this close to saying that here. In short, Self’s Blossom is hard to read, very slow, not sexy, and honestly, vaguely offensive.

What was the biggest compliment?

First off, I’d like to make it clear to readers that Selene, for me, didn’t come across as the usual romance heroine. If you expect to like her a lot, you may be disappointed. I, however, loved her because she isn’t your usual romance heroine. I saw her as conceited, vain, totally self-absorbed, and a pure delight for being this way.

She knows she looks good, knows her workouts have given her a body most women would envy, and the kind of woman she is was portrayed perfectly with this line: Selene had a far better body than the mousy little model in the photograph. While this isn’t something you might expect a romance heroine to think of herself, I loved it because she was made real by Mr Russell creating her this way. We have all thought things like this, perhaps not about our bodies, but about other things—I have a nicer hairstyle than her…I have a better car than her…I have prettier eyes than her—and Selene’s inner thoughts, of which there are many, gave me a glimpse into one of the realest women I’ve ever read. She was human, with, in my opinion, many flaws that might make her distasteful to some, but by God, she riveted me with her self-absorption and brutal honesty.

She goes on holiday alone, and I liked the way the book showed what was happening now but also took me into her mind, showing me memories and why she acted the way she did. I didn’t feel any sympathy for her at any time, just accepted she is like she is and let myself be sucked in by the way she thinks and acts. She’s a breath of fresh air, a person who has the courage to say what she thinks and damn the consequences, and also to think what she does with no remorse whatsoever.

The writing is very good, a touch of literary with an almost languid air to it that gives you the feeling it is slow-paced but it actually isn’t. I think it’s the dreamy state it gives you that creates that slow-moving feeling, and this is not a negative in any way. I loved the way it coasted along like that, where her thoughts and memories came into play and showed me Selene’s psyche. It’s a delve into the mind and life of a woman who knows what she wants and plots to get it. Although she plots, it never came across as malicious plotting. She went on holiday to meet someone, to ensnare them and have glorious sex with them—she makes that clear right from the start—and she is going to get it.

She has a sexual encounter on the beach with a young man—not in her plan at all because it didn’t play out quite as she envisaged—and she knew it was wrong. Not wrong that she had sex, but wrong for her, for her plan, and she walks away afterwards knowing the man is distraught she has gone but…oh, she’s so blasé in that she shrugs it off somewhat and continues on her original mission. 

She meets Hudson, and here is where her plan comes fully into play. She is a manipulator, a master at it, in my opinion, and I adored watching her plan unfold, loved knowing what the next step would be and how she would make things go her way. Selene is, quite simply, not someone I would wish to know in real life, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her in fiction.

BEST BITS: …and make sure it’s your side of the slice that gets the butter.

Half asleep, she pondered on the aura she projected. She knew how good her body was, toned up by lots of squash and swimming at her health club.

It was essential for her to have some comparables, some implicit rivals around…

After it, before it, through it, and finally beyond it, she would be a glistening scale of the purest pigment of a butterfly’s wing, but in pure sensation, outshine all the finest plumage, so carefully, but so abundantly structured, proudly strutting.

Selene came to the conclusion that she read too much, thought too much, and lived too little.

VERDICT: Self’s Blossom is not all hearts and flowers. It’s a journey that amazed me with the portrayal of Selene being so herself and human, flaws right out there for all to see. The prose is also mesmerising. Maybe it won’t be so for you, maybe Selene will seem totally different to you, but I really did enjoy this book very much and am very glad to have been given the chance to read it.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel? The good reviews encouraged me to persevere with my stories. I would like to write another novel though

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it? Yes; I frequently get it. I found it good to do ‘bridge work’ – mechanical corrections pending the reawakening of the imagination

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it? Yes; the value of tenacity, and of having a sense of worth which is proof against shallow discouragement.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them? Extasy Books (Devine Destinies), whom I discovered via the net

What is your marketing plan? I circularize Romance Review Sites

What are your current projects? I am contemplating an interracial romance

What do you plan for the future? I would like to do a compendium of my complete works

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Any other news you’d like to share? I have some speculative poetry published in the online International Times. I am editor of Poetry Express Newsletter which deals in poetry and music for sufferers from mental distress. I am a guitarist/singer-songwriter, with many tracks on YouTube, under the name of Dave Russell. Favourite tracks are Microscope and Symbiotic Suffocation.

What genre do you write in and why? I write non-explicit literary romance. I find this a good meditative aid in a stressful work.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. This is its blurb:
The hero, Percival arranges a date through a contact mag. He and Darlene have a rapturous scenario, handled with superb finesse and supreme command of the wardrobe. He finds some hints of her complicated past. Before and after the encounter, he is eyed up and accosted by malicious-seeming men. The sense of an underlying hornet’s nest is scary, and immediately detracts from the euphoria, which does finally prevail.

What gave you the idea for this particular book? As the story of a rhapsodic one-off it is a sequel to an earlier story, An Ecstatic Rendezvous, which I am going to have republished in enlarged form

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
I start with core incidents, and then evolve the plot around them.

What comes first: the plot or characters? Definitely the characters

Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
Selene, my heroine. I find her irresistibly fascinating though I recognize her as perhaps being cold and aloof, not necessarily lovable in real life

Which characters were the hardest to develop and why? Selene herself; she was hard to develop because of the complexity of her character.

How did you decide how your characters should look? There are many other book covers, movies and pop videos which give inspiration. I have a certain taste for 5os retro, as I lived through the 50s.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book? A rough manual typescript. Many initial rejections; an offer from an ‘alternative’ publisher for a limited edition. The realization of that edition. Then that publisher ceased operating, so I started browsing the net for ebook publishers. I had a second edition with Silk’s Vault, now defunct, and then discovered Devine Destinies/Extasy.

Did your book require a lot of research? If so, what kind? Quite a lot; political and historical.

Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you?  Why or why not?
I cannot write them myself; I have to be poetic, allusive, indirect. They disturb me a bit, but I must respect the skill of other writers in portraying them honestly.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? Getting a sense of the heroine’s mind, and her past.

How long does it take to write a book, and what is your process? The time scale is incredibly elastic

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release? Self’s Blossom (novella); Explorations, Further Explorations, Therapy Rapture and Darlene (short stories); High Wired On and Rock Bottom (speculative novellas); Prickling Counterpoints (Collected Poetry and Prose)

What advice would you give a new writer starting out? Keep at it, and face a few knocks


Tell me a little about your book. It is an English translation of La Araucana, a 16th Century Spanish epic about the wars between the Conquistadores and the Araucanian native Americans

What gave you the idea for this particular book? I knew the late poet Christopher Logue, who wrote War Music, an adaptation of the Iliad. He gave me the desire to translate an epic poem. I was lucky to stumble on the first Third World epic poem.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book? A sense of history, and the futility of war

What types of writing do you prefer, and why? I often find history the easiest form to follow

What is the toughest part about being a non-fiction writer, and how do you get past it? The need to adhere to mechanical necessities

What draws you to non-fiction writing? A love of the truth

What kind of research did you do for this type of book? Historical works on the 16th Century

What about your book makes it special? It is the first sympathetic treatment of Native Americans by any European writer

Where can people learn more about this topic if they want to pursue it further?
There’s masses on the Internet

What are your views on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
Traditional publishing can be insular and narrow-minded, though it sometimes offers good critical guidelines. There is much to be said for Indie publishing, if one is prepared to take some risks.

Do you have an agent and do you feel an agent is necessary for non-fiction?
I am still unsure whether it’s worth paying an agent’s fee. I know an intermediary is essential for approaching established publishing houses now.

Any tips for new writers hoping to write non-fiction?
Be thorough with your research. Don’t be shy; post some on the net and get some feedback


Tell me a little about your book. When did you first know you wanted to be a poet? My poetry collection is called Prickling Counterpoints. I first wanted to be a poet in my early 20s

What do you hope readers will take from your poetry? I hope they will find it thought-provoking and periodically spine-chilling

Why are you drawn to poetry? Because it enables one to plumb emotional and psychological depths

Would you say poetry is easier or harder to write than fiction and why?
I think it is quantitatively easier but qualitatively harder

What is the toughest part about being a poet, and how do you get past it?
Incomprehension; to cope with which you need to find like minds

Is there anything in your poetry based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it. See the poem below, based on a real life rhapsodic encounter

What about your poetry makes it special? I hope to synthesise classical and contemporary/scientific language

What is your marketing plan? I have an arrangement with Waterstones; I sell some at live poetry readings

Where can people learn more about you and your work? Look up some of my titles on the net

Would you give us an example of your poetry?

The First Adventure

That shadowy entrance, subdued glint, spark of eyes!
You trod all cultures with your classic grace
Of posture, figure, profile

The breathy touch, so tentative,
The answering squeeze

All beams and tiptoes as we trod
Unspoken message:
“The dream’s come true”

The curtain nearly volunteered
To close itself.

I was poised to give the word;
Fired by our kisses, you took it from my mouth

Each garment spoke surrender as it fell
A flower-show of fabrics
Adoring those limbs which they had covered;
Warm air on new divested skin
Near liquid in its heady density

Our bodies new-revealed, dreamed up
A gallery of art-figures,
Our mounting breath
Kindled their animation in our honour

Those facing entities suffused with mutual nourishment

The rising sun the backcloth of our dual climax
The bathing epilogue
The farewell walk
A froth of blossom round our tender steps

That fleeting perfection was the purest art
Framed in an idyllic memory.

David Russell


What do you do when you’re not writing? Mainly music

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
Pace and vitality

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel? Verbosity, density of detail

What books have most influenced your life? The novels of William Golding and Ben Okri

What seven words would you use to describe yourself? Reflective, detached, analytical, obsessive, tender, clinical, opaque

Describe your writing space. It is a paper mountain

What has been your favorite part of being an author? Getting vindicated by readers.

What has been your least favorite? Rejection, ignoring, dismissal

What is the strangest thing a reader asked you? ‘Why can’t you write something which will make money

What was your most embarrassing moment as an author? See my hate review above

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