Author Interview with Todd Russell

Things go bump in the dark, and personally I don't think the bumps ever stop being scary. Horror is well horror ... the bloodcurdling screams, the skipped heartbeat ... (yup, I experience these things reading a good horror book). That being said I'm thrusting my hand in the fire again as I have bent the ear of Todd Russell, author of Mental Shrillness, and horror extraordinaire for an interview.

Describe yourself in one word, then tell us why you chose it.
Passionate. Whatever I'm doing in life, work, fun passion is always there. In my writing I experience the character's emotions and get to know these people and feel loss -- like losing a friend -- when their unlucky number is drawn.

While in the short short stories AKA flash fiction there isn't the word space to explore multidimensional character studies I still connect deeply with the affected people/person in the moment. And some of the characters resonate in my mind long after the story is over. Like Ben's depth-less love for his wife in the story "Dead Warmed Over" I know what it's like to have that deep a love for a woman because I've been fortunate enough to have been married to one for 21+ years. In longer stories like "The Illusion" I sympathize with what Damon Brooks is feeling when he wishes he could change things, particularly with what has happened to other important people in his life. I bet many of you reading wish the same things for important people in your lives. We don't have much control over our own fate and even less control over others that we love and care about. It's a paralyzing realization.

Do you use any writing programs or do you simply open up Word/Pages and go for it? Oh! Or are you old-skool and still putting pen to paper? (You never know).
Never know when a good idea is going to strike. Could be while driving, at a restaurant, in a waiting room, at a sporting event, the bathroom, anywhere. So what is used to record the idea will depend on where I'm at and what's available at that moment. Oh, you mean when I turn that idea into a story? Ahh, in that case, either the PC or Mac. The Mac is positioned to left of my L-shaped desk and the PC is in front which makes easy swiveling to either depending on my mood. Write left, right write.

What led you to Indie publishing?
After writing for over 30 years and with the growing popularity of eBooks I'm feeling a bit of a 'if I don't do this now, this could be my last great opportunity while living' vibe. I said this in another interview but it's worth repeating: who wants to be the writer who took all his life writing and died with these boxes full of stories waiting to be discovered? "Hey, look!  This guy was was a writer. Wonder why he never published any of this stuff?" Let some other writer experience that purgatory. Wait, one important caveat: not everything myself or any other writer has written in their trunk is 
publishable. I understand the responsibility that indie authors -- especially us -- must exercise when deciding what's publishable. We must work past the stigma that we're out here publishing the stuff nobody else wanted to publish, that we publish anything we can, that we are nothing but the chaff in the slush pile. Unfortunately a percentage of indie writers are being lousy self-editors, perhaps in their impatience to see their work published(?), and that has created the perception that taints the group.

I admit I shy away from horror as a good story will terrify me (hey, I'm a writer and naturally have an overactive imagination). Tell us what draws you to the genre and, why you enjoy writing it?
Horror can be an intense, in your face genre. I love reading horror, especially the spooky stories that terrify like you mention. That feeling when you don't know what's going to happen to a friend in a story, when something pops up and you get that jump in your chest. That eerie sense that anybody can get whacked at any time on any page is the horror genre at its best. I like writing the kinds of stories I want to read from others.

Mental Shrillness is six short stories. Is there a central theme to these shorts? Why did you choose Mental Shrillness as the title?
Each protagonist in Mental Shrillness has a strong mental experience. Six stories, six thought processes covering: memories, betrayal, love, devotion, voices and the most all-consuming thought: death.

The title was chosen because:
1. it fits the overall collection.
2. it's (hopefully) a catchy variation of the words 'mental illness' for prospective readers
3. various search results returned limited results and
4. I wanted something that readers could search for that would be easy to find.

Are you working on a new release? If yes can you tell us about it?
Short answer: next up will be the print edition of Mental Shrillness which I'm very excited about. My oldest son is helping me convert and format several already completed novels so that they can be published in the future.  The news section of my website will have more specific publish dates when we are ready. Although this is subject to change, readers should plan on the print book first, then ebook with all the popular formats to follow. Mental Shrillness was released in ebook format first and the print edition will follow which is different from what I've seen several other authors doing. I'd like to do print first so that I can send out advance review copies and do Goodreads giveaways (ebooks as giveaways on Goodreads aren't allowed) of my next book.

Thank you for the interview, horrifically yours.... :)

You can find Todd on Twitter using handle @Todd_Russell or on his website. He is also present on GoodreadsIf you're brave enough you can read an excerpt of the collection HERE

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