Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions and offer up a signed copy of your newest book Blood Axe. You can find my review for it here
Tell us about the new book.
The titles in my series are written to work as stand alone as well as part of a series, because I think readers who pick my books up part way through the series should be able to enjoy them as much as fans who have been following my detectives' careers from the start. When writing, I try to cater for both sets of readers. So although my latest book, Blood Axe, is the third in my Ian Peterson series, and the eleventh book in which Ian appears, it can be read on its own. Blood Axe is set in York, where Ian Peterson has recently relocated on his promotion to detective inspector. While he searches for a brutal killer, he is also struggling to save his failing marriage. Like all my books, it begins with a murder, and the story spins out from there.
What gave you the idea for this series and particularly this book?
Ian Peterson appears in the first three books in my Geraldine Steel series. In Death Bed Geraldine Steel moves to London, leaving Ian Peterson behind in Kent. When Geraldine Steel became successful, my publisher suggested I write a spin off series for Ian Peterson. And that was how the Ian Peterson series came about.
Blood Axe was inspired by one of my frequent visits to York, where Ian Peterson works to solve more murders in a month than occur in ten years in the real city of York. I became interested in the Vikings, who settled in York and lived there peacefully for many years, leaving the city steeped in Viking history. The Vikings were civilised traders with a sophisticated culture, who are often misrepresented as violent pillagers. The more I learned about them, the more they fascinated me. It was not a huge leap from researching them to creating a Viking character of my own. Although my character is a obviously fictitious, I did a lot of research to make sure my Viking's thought processes and feelings are as authentic as possible.
This is the first book I have read in this series, despite it being the 3rd book. Do you feel readers need to start at the beginning or is it ok to start with this one?
Many readers start at different points in the series, when a title catches their eye. Hopefully they enjoy what they read enough to want to read the rest of the series!
The killer is very mysterious, did you find it hard writing from their point of view?
Actually, no. I'm always fascinated by my killers and intrigued by writing from their point of view. A reviewer in Crime Time wrote that my books 'take the reader in to the darkest recesses of the human psyche'. I'm not quite sure how I get there, as I'm not 'dark' at all. On the contrary, I am really quite a harmless person, and totally opposed to violence. But I am fascinated by my characters, and the most interesting of these are the killers. What is it drives people to behave in such an extreme and inhumane way? I explore that question in my books, alongside the experience of my detectives who are working to track down my 'mysterious' killers.
I loved that you included a list of acronyms in the start of the book, do you always do this?
Yes, we do this for the US market, as they have different acronyms in America. No Exit Press do this in all of my books. I don't think my new publisher, Thomas and Mercer, will do the same as my new series is not police procedurals so there will be hardly any acronyms, if any. I'm so glad you found it useful. A lot of people do. I've even been known to check the list myself, just to double check I haven't made a mistake.
Are you doing any blog tours or have other events planned for this release?
My publicist is organising a little blog tour, but I'm happy to be interviewed at any time. As a full-time author, relying on book sales to pay my bills, I'm very grateful for any help I can get in raising awareness of my books. I do a physical tour, signing books, whenever a new book is published, and have a series of library visits planned in the spring, as I'm a passionate supporter of libraries. Together with literary festivals and research trips, my books keep me busy!
Where can fans find you, ie website, social media etc?
My website is http://leighrussell.co.uk Links to my facebook page, twitter account, and blog, can all be found there, along with reviews, interviews, the schedule of my forthcoming events, my contact details, and of course links to all my books.
What is next for Leigh Russell?
First and foremost, I will be writing. The next Geraldine Steel novel, Murder Ring, is out as an ebook next month, and in 2016 the first and second titles in my new Lucy Hall series will be published, starting in February with Journey to Death. Once the second Lucy Hall is finished, I'll start writing the ninth Geraldine Steel book which will also be published next year.
I also have some travelling lined up. Every year I teach for the Writers Lab on a beautiful Greek island where I'll be returning in 2016. This year I travelled to Rome, Paris and Seychelles to research locations for my new series. I've been lucky enough to be invited to both Florence and Turin next year, so I'll probably do some further research for the third Lucy Hall book which is set in Italy. I'm also looking forward to visiting New Orleans for the American crime fiction convention, Bouchercon, and I'll be travelling all around the UK for festivals, crime panels, author talks and book signings.
Finally, I'm very excited that the Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson books are in development for television with a major production company. I'm typing with my fingers crossed that the project will be a success.
Thank you very much for interviewing me here, with such interesting questions.
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