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An Interview with Jennifer Brozek

An Interview With Author Russell Proctor

To begin, please introduce yourself to our audience. What is your name? Who are you? What books have you written?

My name is Russell Proctor. I am an Australian writer, but I have also been many other things in my working life, including a lawyer, teacher, professional actor, medical project manager and even a pizza delivery boy. At present I am semi-retired, tutoring school and university students in the evenings and writing during the day. My interests include hiking, astronomy and cats. I have travelled quite a bit in the world, and I prefer out of the way places to modern civilization. For example, I have been to Antarctica and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. I don’t see myself as a thrill-seeker, but I certainly prefer my travel to include adventures rather than just “tourist traps”.

I have two novels currently in print. One is Plato’s Cave, which is a humorous science-fiction story set in contemporary Brisbane, satirizing our quest for meaning in our lives and the true nature of existence. The other book is Days of Iron, a science-fiction novel about terrorism in the future.

Currently I am writing a horror/fantasy series called The Jabberwocky Book which is a mash-up about Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz hunting a supernatural serial killer in Edwardian London. The first volume, The Red King, is due for release by Permuted Press in December 2014.

What first inspired you to become a writer? And what compels you to continue your career as an author?

I have been writing ever since I could write, but publication has come relatively recently. Like most writers, I have a pile of manuscripts tucked away in a filing cabinet that are really embarrassing to read now, but represent my love of the craft over my life.

What compels me to continue to write is I guess the idea of simply having a story to tell. I like writing when I am finding out about the story as I go. I’m not a planner in the sense of having a complete story in my head. I plan a chapter, then write it, but it changes as I go and I discover what the story is really about. That has been harder to do in writing a series, because I have to have a broad overview of the whole story so it holds together from one book to the next. But the joy of not only telling a story, but discovering it for myself, is why I continue to write.

What is the first book you read that made you fall in love with literature?

Hard to say. Possibly the works of Jules Verne and H.G Wells. I don’t think there was any one book that I read and went ‘Wow!’ I can’t even remember learning to read; I’ve just always done so. I read a lot of non-fiction, mostly science and history. My fiction tastes are eclectic, anything from Charles Dickens to John Grisham. If I had to name three authors who have most influenced my writing, I’d list Roger Zelazny, Mervyn Peake and Douglas Adams. That’s not to say I’ve copied their styles, but they are certainly the authors who had the most profound effect on my approach to writing.

What do you think is the most difficult part of being a writer? What is the most rewarding part?

For me, the most difficult parts are finding the time to write, and actually coming up with ideas. I find getting ideas for a story really hard. Often I just have to write and see where the story takes me, rather than having a definite goal or plot in mind. The most rewarding part for me is where someone says they liked my story. I feel like I’ve done something positive for them.

What is your most recent work? What can audiences expect from this book or series?

I am currently writing a three-book mash-up called The Jabberwocky Book which concerns a grown-up Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and 13 year old Dorothy Gale from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz teaming up with the son of Inspector Lestrade from the Sherlock Holmes stories to tackle a supernatural serial killer in Edwardian London. It’s certainly no children’s series though, as there are graphic horror elements – definitely books for adults. The first volume, The Red King, is due from Permuted Press in December 2014. I have completed the second volume, An Unkindness of Ravens, and I’m currently working on the final part.

What can people expect? Well, I guess a vision of Alice as a grown woman (she is 45 years old and married in this series) finding out things about herself she never expected. Lots of action, excitement, horror and a different interpretation of a couple of lovable characters from children’s literature. There have been a number of re-interpretations of Alice and Dorothy over the years – including a number of mash-ups – but I’m trying to find a new way of presenting them. Where possible, I am sticking as closely as I can to the original concepts of Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum. My heroines aren’t butt-kicking male fantasy figures; rather, they are (hopefully) realistic women of their time thrust into appallingly dangerous circumstances, and reacting accordingly. I have also introduced a number of real historical characters as part of the plot, so readers will find King Edward VII, horror writer William Hope Hodgson and poet Wilfred Owen making cameo appearances just for fun.

What do you think are the most common misconceptions about writers?

I guess I could say ‘people think writing is easy’ but I don’t think that’s true. I have been a high school English teacher for a number of years, and I think a lot of readers actually appreciate the effort writers put in. Perhaps there is a misconception that success in writing comes more easily than it does. I don’t think readers have many misconceptions. Non-readers don’t tend to think about writers at all, so they don’t have any misconceptions either.

Why did you decide to join Permuted Press?

I saw an email announcing that Permuted Press was looking for authors and sent a pitch off on spec, and was delighted to receive an offer for a contract. I checked the company out first and was impressed by their concept about how to do business. They just seemed open and friendly, which is a refreshing change in the publishing world. I guess it was the company’s lack of pretension and its concern for its writers above anything else.

What are your dreams for the future as a writer?

I want to finish and publish The Jabberwocky Book. I have plans for another series about a race of time-travelers engaged in a civil war. I don’t know if I have any specific dreams. Certainly making the New York Times bestseller list is not my thing. I just want people to read my stories. Fame doesn’t interest me. I’d just like the chance to continue to write and hope that people find my stories interesting enough to read.

Is there anything else that you would like for people to know about yourself and your work?

I love to hear from readers, and get some feedback. They can contact me on my website, listed below.

Do you have any events coming up such as conventions or book signings?

There is the release of Volume 1 of The Jabberwocky Book in December 2014. The Red King.

Where can people find more information about you?

I have a website, www.russellproctor.com. Also a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/writerproctor. On the website are links to radio and blog interviews I’ve done and a lot of other information about me, together with excerpts from my books and links to my blog, which is https://russellproctor.wordpress.com.