Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Author interview with Viola Russell

A warm welcome to American author, Viola Russell, whose latest book THE DOCTOR AND THE WAR WIDOW was inspired by both her travels and life experience. Viola, tell us about your latest book and how you used your travels to inspire you.

I wrote THE DOCTOR AND THE WAR WIDOW by using experience from my travels and experience.  Harley, like me, is a teacher who has suffered a great loss.  Her mother has died, and she feels that loss acutely.  She also is a widow, and though I'm not married, I understood the grief she feels.  Her husband was taken from her while he served in Iraq.  I live in New Orleans, and my beloved NOLA is as much a character as any of my "real" characters.  London and Liverpool are two of my favourite cities.  I travelled to London as a student, a visitor, and a researcher on numerous occasions, and I first came to Liverpool after my mother died.  I'd heard about Julian Lennon's White Feather Exhibit, a tribute to his father, and I understood his need to connect to his dad.  I loved Liverpool. It reminded me of New Orleans with friendly but frank people.  The city is a port, rich in history and lore.  I'm a huge Beatle fan, but even if you aren't a fan, there's lots to love in Liverpool. The whole city throbs with history, lore, and passion.  As I wrote my novel, I started to think that a proposal and marriage in that city would be wonderful.  In THE DOCTOR AND THE WAR WIDOW, my protagonist's lover proposes to her at Strawberry Field.  
Which character from your book would you most like to trade lives with?

I don't know that I'd like to trade places with Harley, but I admire her ability to break from the chains that bind her to the past.  She has to let go of the past--not the good memories--but the ones that threaten to cripple her.  Only then can she start a new life.  

Setting a character are equally important.  In LOVE AT WAR, England, France, and Germany are important to the story, but the plot surrounding my protagonist Nuala and her friends is what gives the setting its pulse.  Ireland also is important to PIRATE WOMAN, but it is Grainne O'Malley who gives the story its flavour.  

 How long, on average, does it take you to write a book? How much editing do you do?

I write contemporary romance, mystery, and historical fiction.  My editing techniques and writing practices vary with the genre.  Historical fiction takes a long time to write. I research a great deal before I write, and my editing is also extensive.  The contemporary romances take a shorter time to write, but I'm still an obsessive editor.  

My instinct is to write by just that--"instinct," but I know that not plotting is a mistake.  I especially have to plot carefully with historical fiction and with mysteries.  Not plotting a mystery can be disaster, and I also plot when I write historicals.  Dates and facts should be accurate.  When I wrote LOVE AT WAR, I really outlined the story's chronology and the details that surrounded certain events.  I discarded some and wove others into my plot.  In PIRATE WOMAN, I had a very real responsibility.  Graine (Grace) was a real person. I had to find fact, fiction, and lore about her.  I also had to know about the period in Irish history.  

Viola outside John Lennon's former home.

I've never followed fashion.  When I wrote LOVE AT WAR, I wanted to tell the story of my mother's generation.  An agent who is a friend told me WWII wasn't selling. I didn't care.  Writing that novel after my mother's death was cathartic.  I didn't care what anyone told me.  Writing LOVE AT WAR was one of the best thing I ever did.  In PIRATE WOMAN, I wanted to tell the story of Grainne O'Malley. Some people warned me that others had written about her.  I didn't care.  The woman intrigued me.  That was another wonderful experience and transported me to 1500s Ireland. 

I go for the red wine and cheese.  Of course, I'm a good girl.  I work out first. 

 Thank you for talking to us, Viola. We wish you every success with Doctor and the War Widow.

Best wishes Kate.

To find out more about Viola’s work visit her website at www.violarussell.com.


Sandra Mackness said...

Thanks, Viola and Kate for a most interesting interview. My dad came from Liverpool so I've been there many times. Yes, I think the people have a lovely, often gritty (!) humour.

angela britnell said...

Writing the book you love is the only way to go. Enjoyed reading about you and your writing.

LindyLouMac said...

An interesting post,thankyou.

Viola Russell said...

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words!

Susan Bergen said...

Nice to discover so much about you and your novels, Viola.

Viola Russell said...

I love sharing my life and work with writes and readers.

Viola Russell said...

Writing has always given me fulfillment. Even before I wrote professionally, writing was s source of joy and a way for me to release energy an frustration.