Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blog Tour Author Interview: Rebecca Ryals Russell


Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Rebecca Ryals Russell has recently developed a craving for Hazelnut coffee around 9pm every night. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact she stays up until 2am writing, or doing promo/marketing for her many upcoming books over the next couple of years (seven to date through June 2012, but there are plenty in the Working-On pile, so never fear). A fourth-generation Floridian, she has lived in every quadrant of the state except the Panhandle (born in Gainesville-Cental Fl, grew up in Sunrise-South Fl, lived in Orlando-Central Fl, Jacksonville-Northeast Fl and now Wellborn-outside Lake City-North Central Fl). She keeps busy by writing, raising her four teens/young adults, running a Vacation Rental business and trying to sell the 1909 Victorian house in which the family lives so they can move back to Jacksonville.


What is the inspiration behind the Seraphym Wars series?

When asked why I wrote this book, the first of a five-book series, I always pause to think. The idea for the book began about thirty years ago while reading David Eddings’s series, one right after the other, and everything of Terry Brooks I could get my hands on. Originally, the story in my head resembled High Fantasy with a wizard, dragons and elves. But I knew I wanted to incorporate kids from around the world as heroes.


Since I was teaching Middle Grades at the time, which meant leaving the house at 6:30am to be at school in time, I got up for a while at 5am and plunked away at my manual typewriter. This lasted for about three chapters before I found I needed sleep. Principals frown on teachers falling asleep in class--although the kids thought it was funny. But the ideas wouldn’t stop. The story continued to grow. Then my family began to grow, one child every three years or so, until I was teaching and mothering. And overwhelmed. Anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t do anything half-way. My students were as important to me as my own kids, just ask my kids, they’ll tell you. So I put eighty to a hundred hours a week into my teaching and the rest went into my family. Even when I quit teaching to be a full-time mom, I then put all of that energy into them. I tried writing, but was too distracted, tired and busy.

But the story continued to grow. I began to see a shift in the violence and news of evil deeds being told every night or displayed in the morning newspapers. Demons were gaining the upper hand in our world, with the tightest grip on our children. And every time I mentioned what I saw happening in music, or movies or video games, my kids got mad and ignored me, saying I was crazy. I had to find a way to open eyes.


What made you want to be a writer?

After twelve years out of the classroom, with my kids all in high or middle school, I went back to the classroom. But things had changed too much for me to catch up. The pressure was immense and I was miserable. My husband said, “Quit and write that book you’ve always wanted to write.” So I did.On our five acres, we have a log house that my father built to live in. After he passed away we didn’t know what to do with this beautiful empty house. So we decided to rent it out as a vacation home. But until it got busy, I used it as a writing office. Surrounded by my parents’ furniture and quilts, rustic log walls and flat Florida landscape out the windows, I began writing again. But I didn’t rehash what I’d started twenty-five years ago. I started over. The story had changed.



For six months I created the world of Dracwald, invented my characters, monsters, mythological creatures and a basic plot. I illustrated everything to get a clear picture of my creations. And I researched, researched, researched. A story of kids fighting an evil wizard had blossomed into a story of multicultural teens battling demons encroaching on Earth after destroying other civilizations across the Megaverse. As I continued thinking and researching, the focus became Myrna (after about twelve name changes), the lead demon-hunter-slayer, who is responsible for finding the rest of the Vigorios and getting them trained on the island of Majikals. And along the way she would encounter real, actual news-story violence and evil taken straight from the newspapers from around the world. It would be eye-opening for her and the reader.


What are three adjectives that pop into your head when you think of Myrna?

Hard-headed, badass, compassionate.


Is there anything specific that you hope readers take away from the story?

I hope readers realize how much of what happens on Dracwald ACTUALLY occurred on Earth. (ALL of the violence in dreams/visions and that the characters witness comes from real news accounts.)


Are there any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

These are currently being edited, release dates are given:

July 2011-Zarena, Stardust Warriors MG Series
September 2011-Guardian, Seraphym Wars
October 2011- Don’t Make Marty Mad (adult Horror story)
November 2011-Jeremiah, Stardust Warriors
January 2012-Harpies, Seraphym Wars
February 2012-Laman, Stardust Warriors
April 2012-Mercy, Stardust Warriors
June 2012-Magaelbash, Stardust Warriors

I’m in the process of writing the next three Stardust Warriors books, a YA Dystopian Romance and planning Majikals, the next Seraphym Wars book. I’m also working on a whole new Tween series called Masquerade the Scaredy Cat.

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