Author of the Month, Sean Elliot Russell

This month I am introducing to you, Sean Elliot Russell, whom I requested to participate in my “Author of the Month” feature after I read his book, The Jesus Boy, a thoroughly enjoyable novel that filled me with hope for the younger generation.

In interview fashion, I posed thirty plus questions to Sean, allowing him to pick and choose which questions interested him. I find him a fascinating author and think you will as well.

      1. What is the first book that made you cry?

A long time ago when I read an old novel called “The Fisherman.” It’s the Biblical story of Peter meeting Jesus. One particular scene, that of a crippled boy who comes into the presence of Jesus crying. When his head presses against Jesus, the child cries—and so did I. It touched me deeply.

      1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing as a whole energizes me, when I am able to get past procrastination, editing, and fleshing out in my mind a pathway for characters and/or the general plot. Often, my writing time is leftover time, which means if I’m not careful, I write less than I want. Social media and films draw me in a big way which means I must be focused or I lose valuable time.

      1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

My writing kryptonite is using time wisely so I’m able to be the most productive. Writing as a whole takes hours of dedication. But thankfully, that time spent on my writing doesn’t feel like a chore to me.

      1. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

If a writer can create a scenario wherein the reader experiences what the character experiences, whether threat/danger, a puzzle/unanswered questions, or fighting/surviving against great odds, the writer will be successful. Raising questions is what hooks the reader, sometimes more than sentimentality.

      1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

When they come into the world, learn how to use computers and the internet to build an author brand early. Learn how to use social media from the beginning to build an audience. Maintain and you’ll be more successful.

      1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I’ve spent would probably be on the how-to books on writing that have offered shortcuts for me. That, and having a strong computer, has saved me lots of time.

      1. What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

I’ve generally liked all authors I read because I carefully check reviews, first, before purchasing.

      1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I’ve always felt an urge to write devotionally with social media’s birth 15 years ago. Being able to encourage others, to impact people, means a lot to me. My writing is geared to do that first and foremost as a rule now.

      1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

No avatar. I seek to be true to the Lord in my writing, to portray characters honestly and with a strong spiritual backdrop within all my stories.

      1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I unpublished “Shiloh’s Rising” because I felt it could be better written. I hope to either re-present it to the world as soon as possible, or to break it up into 4-5 novels. I’m torn on what to do, but I believe in that novel above all else.

An unpublished, but slowly being worked on fantasy novel with a working title, “The Dragon Seal”. I love the freedom of imagination that a fantasy realm allows. A lot of work to go, but hopeful.

“The Day Jesus Moved Next Door” is nearly finished. A good edit and some finishing touches should allow for it to be published in the next 3 months.

“Once Upon a Donkey” is a children’s tale with artwork. Hope to bring it out before Christmas.

And finally, I’m hoping to work and complete in the next year a sequeal to “The Jesus Boy”. Working title is “The Jesus Boys: Hives & ”

      1. What does literary success look like to you?

To receive positive feedback from readers, unsolicited, is probably the height of success. Someday, I’d hope to make a living from writing, but the climb is steep.

      1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I generally research as I go along, unless the information is needed to shape a character’s actions.

      1. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

I view my writing as part and parcel with my spiritual roots. I try to radiate those truths through my stories and characters.

      1. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

The most difficult thing is getting their voice correct. And to avoid clichés’.

      1. How many hours a day do you write?

I attempt to put an hour per day. On days off or weekends, this usually expands to 2-3+ hours/day. However, I am not always able to accomplish this.

      1. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I tend to gravitate to elderly characters or teenage characters.

      1. How do you select the names of your characters?

For foreign names, I’ll research and look for names that carry a great sound to them. Identifying meanings of names, too, usually clinches a name choice for me. For English names, I’ll look for something unique but not too unique.

      1. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I do work weekly with writing as a backdrop vocation.

      1. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I am influenced by reviews and try to learn from the views presented with an aim to improving my writing style and/or stories.

      1. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

I have sprinkled my writing with scenes and props that my family would recognize as things or memories from our family life.

      1. What was your hardest scene to write?

In “The Jesus Boy”, I had to write scenes that involved interactions between Joshua, the teenage main character, and his girlfriend, Lydia. I had to balance telling an honest story, two persons in love and facing the tension of sexual temptation, while keeping the story above reproach. Hopefully, I was successful. But it wasn’t easy.

      1. Do you Google yourself?

Who hasn’t? Haha

      1. Does your family support your career as a writer?

My Mom and sister have been great encouragers and readers of my work.

      1. Which is your favorite season to write in, and why?

Probably Fall when the days are closing in, when people face a world growing colder and darker. This season offers the most mood, in my opinion. And it’s interesting to me how people deal with such changes and how they find ways to combat the darkening world with light and celebration (feasting & Christmas).

      1. If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?

Probably Vietnam. I loved my visit there a few years back. Smiling people and dreamy landscape with a difficult history makes for great storytelling and great characters overcoming adversity.

      1. Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why?

I like all formats. Ebooks are nice for easy access, adjustable for older eyes, and usually cheaper than alternative formats. A physical book is nice, too. Audiobooks take focus and are best while traveling. Nice having so many choices in our time.

      1. What is your most unusual writing quirk?

Probably that my books defy conventional boundaries. “Shiloh’s Rising” is five sets of characters united by the single thread of Christ’s Second Coming. They do not interact. “The Day Jesus Moved Next Door” will be in first person and involve five sets of characters linked together by the sudden appearance of a neighbor not from Hell but from Heaven (Jesus of Nazareth).

Probably my other quirk would be that I never stop editing, even after a book is published. If I see a way to improve a story, I will make the edit.

      1. What is your favorite genre to read, and why?

I love any genre, to be honest, if it’s written well. I have liked horror (Stephen King) in the past, less so now, but always enjoyed the mood and sense of danger generated by such—along with realistic characters. I can read sci-fi, thrillers, mystery, fantasy, or spiritual fiction.

      1. What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?

Maybe I struggle with sentence structure in my writing. I sometimes feel the rush to write a scene and what comes out onto the page is sometimes clunky and not fit for the public. Having a good editor helps in this respect so I can identify blind spots and improve the experience for readers.

      1. What is the funniest typo you’ve ever written?

A great question. I cannot recall a typo I’ve written that was also funny.

      1.  Do you feel like you’d be a better writer if you wore sparkly socks during your writing sessions?

Cozy days when it’s rainy and cold wearing sparkly socks would be a plus, as long as not itchy. Must be silk smooth 😊. Having handsome socks on definitely improves my writing!

      1. How do you come up with names for your characters?

Context of story. Time in history. Research if needed. Examining the meaning of names affects the choice of names, but the phonetic sound of a name is probably my biggest influencer.

      1. Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?

Mom, of course. She’s my number one cheerleader.

      1. How many drafts do your books generally go through before publication?

Generally, one draft followed by a heavy edit and proofreading. I also usually hire someone to read my work and give a line edit.

      1. Do you have a writing blog?

I have a Facebook Page where I’ve featured other authors in the past, as well as representing my own writing. It can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/SeanElliotRussell/

I also have a website: https://shilohsrising.wixsite.com/lightwordstoday

And I am found on Twitter: @LightWordsToday

My Author Page on Amazon.com: My Amazon Author Page USA

      1. What was the hardest part of writing your author bio?

Pretending the bio’s written from someone other than me. Talking about myself as if I’m unattached and without bias. It feels awkward.

      1. What is your favorite time to write, and why?

I am most productive when I write early in the day which can sometimes turn into a whole day of work. Starting later has less positive effect for me, but can still generate a healthy block of time dedicated to the craft.

      1. What is your favorite word, and why?

Yeshua. His Name captures the meaning of life, what we are to do, and who we should direct our energies toward in order to be a better person and leave a legacy.

Thank you, Sean, for taking time out to share a little bit of your writer’s journey with us! God bless you with your upcoming re-write and books, I look forward to reading and reviewing them!

 

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”

– William James


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