The Friday 13 with Paul D. Russell

Professional Author PicturePaul Dickinson Russell was born in NJ, where he has physically resided ever since, although his mind and spirit have taken many trips and detours, living on distant planets circling unknown stars, thriving in ancient dynasties among the low-born slaves and the high-born elites. His college career was entertaining, which ended in him receiving a Creative Writing degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, in Madison, NJ. When he isn’t writing and living in other planes of existence, he works at a YMCA in Stillwater, NJ, teaching children about the environment and helping them gain a better understanding of themselves. He lives at the sufferance of his two cats, Simba, the grumpy Queen of the household, and Loki, the undisputed Prince of Chaos.

1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?

I have been telling stories for my entire life, playing make-believe as a small child, which led to a school project in the 2nd grade where I wrote a book on all of the different types of dragons that exist around the world. Adding in the fact that I have always loved reading, especially fantasy and science fiction stories which only fueled my imagination, my mind took off at a running start, allowing me to start my first true novel in the 7th grade, a story about dragons actually. I still haven’t finished that particular story, but I do mean to get to it eventually.


2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?

The Will of the Magi Cover ArtMy preferred genre is Fantasy, with Science Fiction coming in at a very close second. I have stories in other genres: Horror, Suspense, Mystery. The only two genres I won’t write in are Westerns and Romances. I just cannot get into those particular types of stories. For Fantasy, my love of it was immediate and absolute. Worlds where anything can happen, when a person can be anyone, be anything, do anything, they appealed to me. I did not always like that the ‘Good’ guy always won, which is why I change things up in some of my stories, but the breadth and depth of the Fantasy genre pulled me in decades ago, and never let me go.


3.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.

My emotional state generally starts off even and calm, since I need that in order to actually get my mind focused on the project at hand. However, once I am engrossed in my story, in the writing, my emotions take off with the story: the emotions I imagine in that particular scene coursing through me as I write it.


4.How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?

Sadly, policing my production and writing has been something I have not been very good with. I have tried to set deadlines and word counts for myself, but I have a severe lack of self-control, which always gets the better of me. Lately, I have been working on my own mental health, which has helped out with my writing, helping me keep more focused on my projects.


5.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?

I do not always find time, because I let myself get distracted, but when I set a plan, and follow through, that always helps. Working through my schedule, and finding when I have time to sit and write always helps. Keeping a small notebook with me where I can jot down notes and triggers for when I will be able to sit down and write. Also, when I am done writing, I will generally copy down the last couple of sentences I wrote back into that same notebook, so that I know where I am working from during my brief note taking sessions, during work breaks and meals and traffic lights.


6.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?

The one thing that truly holds me back is my own fear and paranoia. I am terrified that people will not like my stories, and that holds me back. The paranoia feeds into that, and is fed by the fear, especially when people tell me they like my writing, or anything like that. The paranoia tells me that they are lying, that they actually hate or are disgusted by what I have written. I work at overcoming it by listening to what people tell me, and by taking those words to heart.


7.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?

Do not stop writing. Set plans for yourself. Write every day. Always work on improving your stories.


8.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?

I write on a Mac, which I have had for over a decade at this point. I got it when I was a freshman in college, and since I just turned 30 recently, the computer and I have enjoyed a steady partnership in producing all manner of projects, and fun activities. However, as much as I enjoy typing, and will generally write my novels and stories out on the computer, my preferred medium is pen (black ink, no other colored ink, and NEVER pencil, hate pencil) and paper. I keep a “story-line binder” which has almost all of my notes for every single storyline I have worked on developing. Each plot line has its own section, which comes out of the binder and gets sorted into an individual notebook and binder section when I am working on writing that specific story.


9.Describe your workplace.

I have a table in my living room/dining room in my apartment. I keep my back to the wall so I can look out the window, see the light. I have my gaming equipment and such off to my left, and my library off to my right, all within each reach.


10.Describe your muse.

I get inspiration from everything. For me, the muse isn’t about finding new ideas or storylines or thoughts. The muse is actually producing the works. Having the ideas is easy, but actually giving them life and form is the difficulty.


11.If we wanted a good story—book, show or movie—one that you didn’t write, where would you send us?

For a good story? I am of course prejudiced in these regards, and I would always ask what a person’s interests are, that way I can send them to something they might actually enjoy rather than straight to something I enjoy, since I know that not everyone has the same tastes. In terms of novels, I’d always recommend Dune by Frank Herbert, The Black Jewels by Anne Bishop, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, the Anite Black Vampire Hunter series by Laurel K. Hamilton, the Chronicles of the Neromancer by Gail Z. Martin, The Foundation series by Isaac Assimov, The Sword of Shanarra by Terry Brooks, and God’s Demon by Wayne Barlowe.


12.If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?

The where does not truly matter to me, but I would want to live somewhere with a large house, and a large property, filled with large trees, where I can look out the windows, and see the forest, feeling it all around me, and not see or hear other parts of civilization.


13.A publishing house gets ahold of you and wants you to take over writing an established character. For instance, DC Comics calls you and tells you they want you to take over writing Batman. What is the dream? What established character would you love to write?

I could not take over an established character. There are many I love, but I do not know any of them well enough to take them over and do them justice. Everything I wrote, I would feel and ‘know’ in my heart would never be good enough for the character.


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