Written by V.P. Chandler
I’ve been following Nick Russell for a few years and have found him to be funny and fascinating. So I wanted to introduce him to all of you!
VP Chandler- Nick Russell, welcome to the AMW blog and thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’ve followed you and your work for a few years now and I have to say, you’re a very interesting person! It’s like you’ve lived different lives within your lifetime. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Nick Russell – I have had some adventures and a lot of fun in my life, no question about that. My dad was a Border Patrolman back in the days when they rode horses as much as trucks or Jeeps, and I spent much of my early years living on the Southwest border. I joined the Army right out of high school and spent fourteen months as an Infantry squad leader with the 1st Cavalry in Vietnam, and when I came home, I was a firearms instructor at the US Military Academy at West Point. When I left the Army, I spent a few years working as a criminal investigator for the Arizona Attorney General’s office. But from the time I was a kid, my first love has always been writing, and I started and ran several small town newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast and in Arizona. In 1999 my wife Terry and I sold everything, bought a motorhome, and spent the next 18+ years living and traveling on the road full-time, publishing the Gypsy Journal RV travel newspaper. In later 1999 we hung up the keys and bought a home on the central Florida Atlantic coast.
VP Chandler- Wow! I knew that you had done a lot of things but I hadn’t realized just how many. When did you know that you wanted to write mysteries and how is it different from writing the news?
Nick Russell– I had written and self-published ten nonfiction RV/travel books but never had any faith in my ability to write fiction. I actually wrote my first mystery, Big Lake, before we hit the road full-time, then I sat on it for 14 years until my wife finally nagged me into publishing it as an ebook on Amazon in May of 2011. That December, it made the New York Times bestseller list, and I guess the rest is history. I usually put out four books a year, but last year I managed to do six, including two books in my new Tinder Street historical saga. I will be releasing my 44th book late this month or in early February. As for the difference between writing mysteries and the news, mysteries are much more fun. When writing a newspaper story, you are telling the facts of who, what, where, when, why, and sometimes how. And sometimes a news story leaves you feeling unsettled because there isn’t always an immediate resolution, if ever. In writing fiction, I can use my imagination, and the bad guys don’t go free on a technicality. However, I can tell you this, if I tried to use some of the stories I covered in my newspaper days in one of my books, readers would say that was way too wild to believe!
VP Chandler– I didn’t realize that you had been a NY Times best seller! Good for you! Can you tell us how your life experiences have influenced your stories?
Nick Russell – In many ways, I think. I believe I have seen and done things that most authors never will, and I try to incorporate some of that into my books. I know what it feels like to have bullets fired at me and to see my friends killed or wounded. I know what it’s like to be the man pulling the trigger and its long-term effects on a person. I have seen the agony of the families of crime victims and those killed and maimed by drunk drivers. My newspapers were all in small towns, and my mysteries are set in small towns because I know how people in those kinds of communities think, how they act, their hidden prejudices, the oddball characters that every small town has, and the challenges their citizens sometimes have in trying to make a living with limited opportunities. I try to incorporate all of that into my books.
VP Chandler– Do you use any special computer programs to help you write?
Nick Russell– I use Grammarly, though I sometimes feel it is more trouble than it is worth, especially in writing regional dialect. I also use Dragon Professional dictation software since I am a very slow two-finger typist at best. However, it comes with its own challenges and is not nearly as accurate as their television commercials would have you believe.
VP Chandler– You’re also well known for your blog and I’ve noticed that you write for it every day. Is that a habit left over from your newspaper days?
Nick Russell– I started the blog as a marketing tool and income source back around 2007 when we were publishing the Gypsy Journal, and at one time, it was getting over 700,000 hits a year. That number has dropped by at least half now, but I still do a 500 to 1,000 word blog every day. It is a good way to keep in touch with my readers, and it’s still a great marketing tool. It is not uncommon for me to announce a new book in the blog and see a thousand sales in the next 24 to 48 hours.
VP Chandler– Holy cow! That’s certainly something that many writers can learn from. You mentioned earlier that you’re now trying your hand at historical fiction. How’s that going?
Nick- I have always wanted to write a family saga, and last year my wife had a dream about a family who lived through hard times but stuck together, and the strong women in the family who were well known for always being there for their neighbors in need that the locals called the street they lived on Tender Street instead of its official name of Tinder Street. I knew that was the story I had to write. The first two books in the series have been well received, and I will start on the third book in the series sometime in March. They have become my personal favorites of all of my books.
VP Chandler– That’s great! Anything else that you’d like to tell our readers?
Nick Russell– From the time I was a kid, I loved books and reading. They took me on adventures that no movie or television show ever could, and my dream was to someday write stories that would take others on their
own adventures. Doing so is the most fun I have ever had. It’s been said that if you love what you’re
doing, you’ll never work a day in your life. I know that’s true, because I never have.
VP Chandler– Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope that many readers discover your writing and enjoy as much as I have.
You can find all of Nick’s books at his author page on Amazon. Nick Russell on Amazon
His most recent book is Big Lake Hoarder and he will be releasing his 9th John Lee Quarrels book the end of the month, Fresh Out Of Mojo. So keep an eye out for that one.
You can follow his blog at the link, Nick’s blog.