And it’s a guest! From the upcoming Ink Slingers Halloween Anthology (I go the Smashwords link yesterday and no time to start reading it, so stay tuned for more), ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Russ Towne!
Where do you live and write from?
I live in Campbell, California, USA. It is near San Jose and San Francisco. I write from wherever I might be at the time the seed of an idea is given to me and begins to grow.
There are actually several reasons I write. I write because I must. I’ve learned story ideas are precious gifts and to gratefully document and share them. I believe it would be selfish of me to horde or ignore them. Sometimes when I’ve tried the latter it was as though a great and growing pressure built inside me to the point where I could no longer think or function until I let the ideas out and shared them with others. So, I write to function and survive.
I write to provide a greater balance my life. I’m a wealth manager at a firm I founded in 2003. I spend much of my days using the logic portion of my brain. Writing helps me to maintain greater balance by allowing me to use the creative portion of my brain.
I write because to do otherwise would be to ignore the whispers of my heart. I’ve found ignoring my heart is always a bad idea.
I write to remind myself and readers of the greatness and goodness within ourselves and others.
I was over fifty years old and had convinced myself that I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Then, about four or five years ago a friend named Denis Loiseau invited me to co-write a song with him. We had so much fun working together that we collaborated on several songs that were picked up by music industry executives from Nashville and Hollywood, and an invitation to go to Nashville to meet some music executives. Although we are receiving royalties for some of our songs, we are far from having made it to the Big Leagues of songwriters, but it has been a fantastic adventure and a whole lot of fun. Songwriting led to writing poetry, which led to writing children’s stories, and fiction and non-fiction stories, which led to writing three anthologies of my own stories, and compiling three anthologies featuring the work of forty or fifty other writers. It has been an exciting four or five years.
Children’s stories, non-fiction stories, poetry, and fiction and flash fiction in a wide variety of genres including adventure, action, science fiction, speculative fiction, crime, thriller, paranormal, western, gold rush, utopia and dystopia.
What does your writing routine consist of?
The writing routine that works best for me is no routine. I write when the words flow so forcefully that I’m pretty much unable to think or do anything else. Sometimes the flow keeps me writing all night (which is less than ideal during the work week), and at other times I go months without writing a thing. I’ve learned if I’m patient the flow will return. Sometimes it starts as a trickle and grows, and at other times it’s a flash flood removing everything else in it’s path. I’ve tried to write without the flow but it feels too much like work, is frustrating, is rarely (if ever) productive, and wastes precious time. I love to have fun when I write or do anything else, and I have the most fun writing with the flow rather than trying to write in its absence. My favorite time and place to write is outdoors, especially at night in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I especially love writing in the rain as I sit at a covered table with the rain splashing overhead and all around. I’m a bit of a Goldilocks writer in that I enjoy writing night or day in all kinds of weather, except when it’s too hot or too cold, but when it’s just right, I write. My Chocolate Lab Duke is nearly always at my feet keeping me company.
I believe readers experience and feel a greater connection with my heart and spirit, the hearts and spirits of others, and most importantly, to their own. I often hear that something I wrote made a reader cry tears of joy or healing tears. I consider that the ultimate compliment, and am honored and humbled by such heart-felt feedback.
How have you developed these qualities?
I listen to the whispers of my heart. It is my North Star as a writer. It won’t lead me astray.
Inspiration often comes to me at the most inconvenient times and places, such as when I’m in bed preparing to sleep, in the bathroom, working outside, or driving. It is when my brain has calmed down a lot that I’m able to hear the heart whispers.
Do you put yourself in your stories?
Sometimes, especially for non-fiction, but often my fiction stories begin with an actual event or experience and I just let my imagination lead me from there. I believe starting from a real event enables me to more authentically describe all I felt and experienced.
Yes. I do both depending on my need at the time, but even my outlines are often only created in my head. My favorite is free-form writing where I just start a story and let it take me where it needs to go. I’m often amazed at the ending and what I’ve experienced along the way. To me it’s like an incredible adventure on a mighty, fast-flowing, uncharted river in the jungle. I never know what is around the next bend or when my journey will end.
Fast or slow writer?
Fast. I get bored with long projects. I love for ideas to flow as water from a fire-hose and the challenge of capturing all I can as fast as I can.
Tell us about your latest book:
In the next five or six weeks I’m releasing four or five books and re-releasing one, so it’s tough to choose. They are children’s books except the re-release which is titled Touched. The latter features many of my speculative stories and flash fiction. I’m proud of all these books, but I’ll go with Touched as it probably reveals more glimpses of my heart and spirit in a single book than the others. Most of the stories are uplifting though often the protagonists have to go through harrowing experiences to survive. It is a celebration of the human spirit expressed in many ways and genres.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
I began with Indie, but I recognize advantages and disadvantages of each, so some day may choose another path.
Beyond the several being released by October 31, the seeds of several other stories are sprouting in my brain. I plan to give to them more of the attention I believe they deserve after I get through releasing the ones I’ve already written.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is completely selfish, simple, and aligns with my personal definition of success: To do what I love and to do it with love (for as someone once said, doing anything else is a wasted opportunity). That is success to me as a writer or anything else.
Write would you want to read, what would touch and entertain you.” I attempt to do that every time I write. I figure that over time like-hearted people will discover my stories and quickly feel at home. In reality, they’ll simply be feeling a greater connection with their own loving, beautiful, and compassionate hearts and spirits, and those of others, hopefully including mine.