Mistress Bella: Welcom Viola, I'm so glad you agreed to this interview. I'm sure your fans and new readers will be happy to learn more about you. First, could you tell us what you are currently working on for publication or about your current release?
Viola Russell: My current release is “Buried Truths” with Sapphire Blue Publishing. It is a romance set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I also am working on two other projects.
MB: Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Viola: I live in New Orleans with my dog. By day, I’m a high school English teacher. By night, I’m a budding writer. I say “budding,” but I’ve written most of my life. I’ve only recently been published.
MB: Give us a sneak peek into your book Buried Truths?
Viola: In “Buried Truths,” Heather Flanagan Kerry is shopping in a bookstore when a young woman named Sarah Cleveland asks Heather if she ever had a child and gave it up. Sarah explains that Heather has eyes just like Sarah’s husband, Ezra, who is adopted. Heather, now a professional woman, denies it, but she goes home and calls her high school love, Dr. Wesley Chou. He is now an oncologist. They meet but do not stay together. Later, Ezra and Sarah bring their infant daughter to Wesley. The child has leukemia, and Wesley contacts Heather as a potential donor. Wesley and Heather must decide if their love can withstand the passage of time, their own son’s anger, and the condemnation of society.
MB: Tell us about your writing process? Do you outline or just start writing?
Viola: My problem in the past used to be that I didn’t outline. I’d start writing and just keep moving. The problem is that I sometimes neglected the finer points of plot, character, etc. The story was good but not organized. Now, I’m making a more conscious attempt to outline and take voluminous notes. I write monologues in the voice of my characters and complete hours of research before I really get into individual scenes. I also write “facts” about characters, like what they like to eat or drink. If the novel is a period piece, I spend hours in the library. If the novel deals with an issue or illness, I research on those topics. For example, I researched leukemia and its treatment before I wrote about the disease in “Buried Truths.”
MB: What genre is your favorite to write? Read?
Viola: I’m not sure I subscribe to the concept of genre. I didn’t see myself as a romance writer, but I loved writing “Buried Truths.” I love writing mysteries, because to make a mystery successful, a writer has to devise an intricate plot. I also love period fiction—historical fiction, espionage fiction, and historical romance.
MB: Do you have any favorite authors?
Viola: I enjoy many different types of writers. Some of them are classic. Some are more modern. Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, William Faulkner. I also love modern writers like James Lee Burke, Elizabeth George, Martha Grimes, C. S. Harris, Mary Higgins Clark, Rexanne Becnel, A. S. Byatt, Sena Nasland, Tracy Chevalier.
MB: Is there a genre you haven't written, but would love to tackle in the future?
Viola: As I’ve said, I’ve written most of my life. I need to revise a mystery I’ve completed, but I also am working on a romance/thriller set in WWII.
MB: What's planned next for your writing career?
Viola: I have to write while I work, so I take one day at a time. I’d love to publish the mystery once it is revised. I need to complete the WWII piece because that’s a Valentine to my mom and her generation. I wish she’d lived to see all that’s happening for me. I’m excited about the WWII manuscript because I have to incorporate romance and suspense.
MB: Do you work well with deadlines?
Viola: I find that I do. When I was editing “Buried Truths” with my wonderful editor, Tina Gerow, I learned that set deadlines force me to work. For that matter, I was the same in college. My best papers were written right before the due date.
MB: When did you first start writing?
Viola: I was about eight. I’d read “Black Beauty” and knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote a story with animal characters. My mom liked it. Then, I read “Little Women” and wrote a different type of story.
MB: What influenced you to submit your work for publication?
Viola: --My local RWA chapter, SOLA, sent out an e-mail saying that SBP was looking for manuscripts. I submitted by manuscript, and it was accepted.
MB: Do you belong to a critique group? If so-how does this help you? If not-would you ever consider joining one-if not- why do you think you work better alone?
Viola: I belong to a workshop group that’s more like a class. I like workshops/critique groups when they are very structured and organized. Those types of groups only work when the group is very structured.
MB: What is the best way for readers to contact you?
Viola: Readers can leave a message on my website at www.violarussell.com. I also am on MySpace at www.myspace/violaruss and on Facebook at www.facebook/violrussell.
MB: Any advice you want to give to aspiring writers?
Viola: Develop a thick skin. You will be rejected. Work on your craft. Join professional organizations. Take classes or workshops. See if they help.
MB: Anything you wish to add?
Viola: I want to thank Mistress Bella for allowing me this opportunity to write my thoughts. I also would love to thank the folks at Sapphire Blue for publishing a manuscript that was near and dear to my heart.
Thank you so much Viola for stopping by for this interview. We will be on the look out for more books you publish. Stop by again:-)