Crime pays for Watford author
PUBLISHED: 12:28 23 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:05 20 February 2013
Leigh Russell is well on her way to becoming an established crime fiction author in a short space of time as Anthony Nelson discovers
LOCAL crime author Leigh Russell hit the big time with her best-selling first novel. Now she is promoting her second book, and working on the third. Its hard work but, as she explains, being a writer is a labour of love.
Yes it is hard work and time consuming but I enjoy every aspect of being a writer so it doesnt feel like work, says Leigh, whose day job is teaching. I get a real buzz from writing.
Leigh has lived in the Watford area for 30 years. She came to writing only recently and had the good fortune to be published almost as soon as her first novel was written. One day I had an idea, and started writing. Six weeks later, Id written the first draft. I was so pleased with it that I sent the manuscript to three crime fiction publishers. Two weeks later I received a phone call from a publisher and a few months later they signed me up for a three book deal.
That publisher Watford-based No Exit Books brought out the first book in the trilogy, Cut Short. in October 2008. The sequel Road Closed has just been released, and Russell is busy writing the third.
The trilogy introduces the character Detective Inspector Geraldine Steele who magazine US Publishers Weekly described as, A compassionate and complex heroine whos sure to win fans. The murder investigation drives the narrative, but Geraldine has her own story which was introduced in Cut Short and develops in Road Closed.
Leigh explains, When I started writing the first book I had no plans to write a series. It never even occurred to me that my writing would one day be published. I was fascinated by my killer and wrote pages and pages about him. My editor pointed out that the detective continues from book to book and had to become a character in her own right who would engage my readers interest. At that point I had to do some work on my detectives character and develop her.
Inspiration comes easily and Leigh has no problem finding ideas. I can see dead bodies anywhere. It sounds ghoulish, but it isnt. Writing crime thrillers is like problem solving, fitting the pieces of a jigsaw together. I start with a body and then the questions follow fast. Who is the victim? What was he or she doing before they were killed? Has anyone noticed the victim is missing? Then I move on to the next part of the puzzle. Who is the killer and what is their story. What led them to kill? Finally, I bring in my detective and there you have it a book!
The challenge of balancing a teaching career with writing and promoting books takes some getting used to. A full-time English teacher, Leigh spends much of her spare time writing and promoting her books. She writes quickly and gives plenty of time to press and radio interviews and bookshop and festival signings.
And the future? Road Closed has just come out, and I am working on the first draft of Dead End. My publisher has just made an offer for a fourth book, so the series looks set to run for some time yet!