The Wounds of Time: An interview with ACW author Sue Russell - by Liz Carter

 

I'm so delighted today to be chatting with Sue Russell, the author of the brand new The Wounds of Time, I wanted to ask Sue about her writing, about what inspires her and the intersection of her faith with writing. First of all, though, I wanted to say that I loved this book. I had the pleasure and privilege of working on the formatting and cover design, and it was such a pleasure to read it, too. Having read some of Sue's other books, including A Vision of Locusts, The Healing Knife and The Thorn of Truth, I had high expectations - and they were more than met. The main character, the slightly eccentric and very cool Janet, is a clerk in a legal chambers. She's got some stuff in her past she hasn't faced up to, and it all comes bubbling up through a succession of difficult events and health issues, and so she has to face things in her past and in her personality full on. It's so well written, the characters and the settings well drawn - one of those books that draws you in so you don't want to put it down.

Here's Sue's thoughts on the questions I gave her:

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

If you are under 50 I am old enough to be your mother. I have been making up stories since I was very young, but have only been getting down to it properly for the past 20 years.

I live in the south of England with my husband and my elderly dog Rosie. We have an ancient farmhouse in France which we visit as often as we can. I am blessed with two marvellous grown-up daughters.

I have had a very interesting life (so far) and have many interests – though books are probably at the top of the list. I also love music (listen, play, sing), nature (especially birds, trees, mountains), gardening, and hanging out with friends and family for meals and foolish fun.

You have a new book out next week! Tell us what it is called, what it's about, and what led you to write it? 

The newest book is called The Wounds of Time. It’s about a one-off woman called Janet and how her life changes over the course of several months in 2017. I wrote it as part of a kind-of series. Janet appears in book two, The Thorn of Truth, as a secondary character, but I knew she had a story to tell. The first book, called The Healing Knife, was written as a stand-alone, but the editor of the publisher I was with then asked me to write another, and between us (and others) we conceived the idea of using the same backdrop but pulling a secondary character through to become the protagonist of the next book. While each story is separate, characters from the previous book reappear, so Janet is already on the scene.

I really like the characters in The Wounds of Time, especially Janet. What gave you the idea for her character, and how do you form characters in general and work them out on the page?  

Characters come to me as I daydream and cogitate, and as the story progresses they acquire depth, fleshed out through dialogue, mannerisms, backstory, relationships and quirks. I discover more about them as they come to life on the page. I am sometimes asked if I base them on people I know, and I don’t – at least, not consciously. I suppose all our characters are an amalgam of people we have known or read about, but there’s a dash of pure imagination as well.

The Wounds of Time has some very gentle, non-invasive Christian elements which I think you have done really well. Tell us a little bit about how you write your faith into your books.  

Where faith comes in depends on the characters and their own journey. For example, Janet is wary and sceptical, but others around her question her attitudes and quite gently put forward their own ideas. In other stories the faith element is more overt. For example, if the character is a pastor, it would seem natural to have them reading the Bible. My purpose is not to convert! That’s not my job and I avoid a heavy hand. I’d like to think that for my characters faith is either an integral part of their life, or part of a search, or something they are currently questioning, ignoring or challenging.

Your books have been a mix of traditionally published and self-published. Can you tell us a little bit about the experience of both, and how it compares for you? 

My first five books were self-published using a company to do the technical bits. Then I was published by a hybrid publisher for A Vision of Locusts – Instant Apostle. The Healing Knife and The Thorn of Truth were taken on by a traditional publisher, Lion Fiction, and The Wounds of Time is published with KDP using my own imprint, Highstowe Books, and very ably guided, advised and assisted (formatting, cover design, uploading – everything except the actual writing, editing and proofreading) by a professional. (Sue told me to credit myself here - here's my webpage about my services.

All these approaches have advantages and disadvantages from the author’s point of view. A traditional publisher allows you a sense of being endorsed; they do all the tech work, sometimes give you an advance, do some publicity and marketing (though you still have to do a lot yourself), organise your royalties, maybe even enter you for an award. But you have less input into things like cover design; they edit, sometimes stringently; they have ultimate control. 

A hybrid publisher can be a good option – and IA is a lovely company. I am rubbish at marketing so the disadvantage for me is still having a lot of copies which I was obliged to buy. Self-publishing is great because you retain control – but by the same token you are on your own and need to keep on top of publicity and selling opportunities. You stand or fall by your own decisions. It’s much easier these days to self-publish, and costs relatively little, but I am glad I am doing it now when I am a bit more realistic about the possibilities and pitfalls. At the outset my ignorance and naivete were boundless!

Thank you so much, Sue! 

Do join the conversation and do buy Sue's new book :)

You can grab a pre-order of the ebook of The Wounds of Time on Amazon right now, and the official launch is on the 21st March.

Liz Carter is an author, poet and editor from Shropshire. She loves to write about the difficult and painful times in life, and how we can find gold in the mess. Her books Catching Contentment and Treasure in Dark Places are available in online bookstores. You can find her at www.greatadventure.carterclan.me.uk and she’s signed a contract for her next book with The Good Book Company, coming 2023. She's just brought out a new prayer journal which is filled with verses and poetry about creation, and now works freelance to proofread, format and design books.







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