Author Interview: Rebecca Ryals Russell

Today’s interview is with MuseItUp author Rebecca Ryals Russell, a YA author whose first novel comes out on April first.

1. When did you decide to become a writer and what inspired you to do so?
I’ve written things since age 8, but never wrote to be published until 3 years ago when I retired from teaching and the kids were self-sufficient. I was inspired by a story line that’s been in my head for 30 years.

2. Can you tell us a bit about the projects you have coming out with MuseItUp Publishing?
I currently have 7 books contracted for next year.
The first is Book 1 of the YA series Seraphym Wars: Odessa due out April 1, 2011-
While fighting inner demons of a rape at age 16, Myrna now 18, faces the same demons who attacked her while fulfilling her destiny as Leader of the Army of Vigorios, demon hunters.

Then is Book 2 of the MG series Stardust Warriors: Zarena due out July 1, 2011-
14-year-old Zarena wakes on the home planet of The Conscientia, Laud’s 12-member Assembly, to discover she is to be trained as the Leader of the Army of Vigorios, demon hunters.

Next is a Prequel for Seraphym Wars: Conscientia out Sept 1, 2011-
Jeremiah Holyfield, a member of Laud’s 12-member Conscientia, agrees to live on the demonized planet of Dracwald in order to protect the Prophecy of the Vigorios. Several thousand years later 18-year-old Myrna wakes in the home of The Conscientia to begin her training as Leader of the Vigorios, demon hunters.

I threw in a horror story Don’t Make Marty Mad out Oct 1, 2011 (for Halloween)-
Marty, a frustrated factory worker and demanding new father, gets confused about his wife’s loyalties and decides to take matters into his own hands. Literally.

Then Book 1 of Stardust Warriors: Jeremiah due out November 1, 2011-
Jeremiah Holyfield, a member of Laud’s 12-member Conscientia, agrees to live on the demonized planet of Dracwald in order to protect the Prophecy of the Vigorios.

Book 2 of Seraphym Wars: Harpies is due out January 1, 2012-
15-year-old Griffen, gamer from Earth, wakes on a foreign planet with new abilities to control lightning. He discovers he must find and escort two other Vigorios, demon hunters, to an island far away–13-year-old Aurora, abandoned and living on the streets and 12-year-old Seth, with an evil streak that stays hidden. Along the way they battle dragons, trolls, Harpies and more while learning to rely on others as well as themselves.

And Book 3 of Stardust Warriors: Laman due out February 1, 2012-
Laman, 14-year-old gamer from Earth, wakes one morning on a strange planet. Having been struck by lightning the night before he discovers new abilities. To get home he must fulfill his part of the Prophecy of the Vigorios, demon hunters, which involves staying alive and guarding two other Vigorios.

Awaiting word about Books 4 and 5 of Stardust Warriors: Mercy and Magaelbash. Should hear soon about them.

3. How did you find MuseItUp Publishing?

I first met Lea at an online conference (not her own) then attended a chat with her editors, cover artist and authors. I was so impressed by the casual friendliness and family atmosphere I knew I wanted to be part of her company. I submitted Odessa immediately.

4. What was the first story you ever wrote about?

I have no idea. Too long ago.

5. What genre do you enjoy writing in most and why?

I write Fantasy for YA and MG, plus a few Picture Books. My fav is YA Fantasy. Teens have vivid imaginations but are on the verge of adulthood as well so it’s easy to take them places, like foreign planets, and keep some mildly adult themes included. For my Middle Graders I have to so careful about my wording, no cussing, for instance and that sometimes hinders my characters who tend to be rough and real. No wimps in my books.

6. What do you think is the most important piece of advice for other writers to remember?
Write often to Write well. It took me 3 years to finally get Odessa right. I revised it 6 times before finding the voice and getting to know the characters. But the book I’m writing now for NaNoWriMo, a YA Dystopian Romance, is coming along much faster because my brain has been in training for the past 4 years. And ideas for new books won’t stop presenting themselves. I have about 6 WIPs.

7. Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?
I’m a Planner. I Pantsed Odessa and paid for it. Izzy and Josh (working title of Dystopian) has been planned and outlined and while it’s been slow finding out what the characters have to say about their story, it’s coming along. Since Nov 1 to now, Nov 17, I’ve written 38,000 words of the story. I anticipate it will be about 90,000 when finished. Most of my books are pretty complex and long.

8. What do you think is the hardest part of the writing process?

Finding time to write. I substitute teach at my youngest son’s Catholic school, and being a retired MG teacher they use me A LOT. Which is great for spending money. Last year I bought my hubby an iPad for Christmas with my subbing money, but it cuts into my time to write. I often stay up until 2am if not subbing the next day.

9. What are you reading right now?

I read a lot of Craft books lately. Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood has been invaluable to me. Also, The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and Hooked by Edgerton. For fiction, I’m reading The Road. My son read it and loved it. The style is definitely different-no quotation marks for speech. But the style is also perfect for the story.

10. What are you currently working on?
I’m in the middle of a YA Dystopian Romance and thinking about Book 3: Majikals of the Seraphym Wars series while planning Book 6 and 7:Tien and Phoebe of the Stardust Warriors series.

Rebecca Ryals Russell lives in a Victorian house on five acres with her family. She also runs a Vacation Rental Log House on the property. She is a fourth generation Floridian. She was born in Gainesville (Central Fl), grew up in Sunrise (South Florida), lived in Orlando (Central Fl) and Jacksonville (NE Fl) before settling outside Lake City (North Central Fl). The daughter of a school principal and school secretary, for fourteen years she taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. She had several students’ works published in anthologies. Her main interests are her four children ages 22, 19, 16, 11 and Irish hubby of 35 years. She enjoys spending her time writing, drawing, movies, reading.