Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: Hi Catrin! Well, the re-released “Power of Conviction is officially out in the world. How do you feel?
Catrin Russell: I’ve been looking forward to this for so long, so I’m really excited and really hope people out there will come to enjoy The Power of Conviction!
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: You’ve recently made the shift from self publishing to signing with Fallbrandt Press. What led to the decision? Have you noticed anything different about the experience?
Catrin Russell: Wow, great question! Where do I begin?When I first decided to self publish back in June of 2019, I had so little experience delving into publishing a book that I wasn’t entirely sure what options I had. It was my mother-in-law who suggested that I look into Amazon (since I write in English) and I went on to use their KDP service from there. I had zero experience in marketing and promotion, so I really went in blind. I hadn’t even started using social media properly, so I did everything backwards… But in early 2020, I was contacted by the fabulous Denise-Marie, host of Fairy Tale Access, and asked to be on her show! It was my first video interview and I was so nervous, but I thought – why not!? And so I did that, and apparently Michael Evan, who runs a successful PR business, must have seen said (and of course absolutely smashing) interview, and decided to contact me about doing some PR for me. And it just kicked off from there! He liked my books, Fallbrandt liked my books, and here we are!!And as to differences? Wow!! In the little time we’ve worked together, I’ve learned so much!! I’m trying to act like a sponge and absorb it all because this is the chance of a lifetime and I’m so grateful to have been blessed with it!!! Everything is a million times better! All the help, support, and wisdom… And just look at my new covers!! I’m getting those printed and hung on my walls.
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: So tell me about your journey to publishing your first novel. When did you know you wanted to be a writer and what led you to such a bold move?
Catrin Russell: In no way am I unique answering this question: I have been writing since like… forever. It’s always been a passion and it was the main reason for why I went to study computer game design because I wanted to create stories and narratives for games.But I didn’t decide to delve into publishing my work until I had my mother-in-law (there she is again, bless her for being so supportive) read my first two books and she said they were great! And they were definitely on the level of other books out there, in her opinion, so I went on to redraft them, getting them polished enough for publishing. But I still wasn’t 100% sure how to proceed, if I should do it or not.Well, then my family gave me a push by buying a gift voucher for a Swedish self publishing company. That’s when I took the step, and delved into Amazon first. And got stuck there, mind you. I never ended up using that gift voucher but it definitely had me pushed in the right direction. And from there it went! Newbie as I was…
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: What themes do you hope come through in your writing. Is there anything specific you hope readers get out of your work?
Catrin Russell: I have plenty of themes throughout, not in the least of which is morality and how a strong conviction can alter the course of one’s life. I hope the story makes the reader think. Not only about the obvious good vs evil, or what is right or wrong, but also how one’s situation and experiences might affect one’s choices, and how we deal with those as we move on. I also highlight mental health in several ways through many of my characters, some more obvious than others. The story is not only dark and gritty, but it also has a lot of love and friendship added amongst the pages, so I really hope the readers get to experience all of that, and feel like they can take something away from the story, a part of the Light of Darkness world that might resonate with them on a deeper level.
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: That’s awesome. I like to try to get into some bigger real life issues in my writing as well. The amazing thing about fiction is how we can say something important in the context of a fictional setting without coming off as preachy.
Catrin Russell: Exactly!! And that’s what I wanted to do. I love those books. I feel complete after reading one.
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: So what were some of your biggest influences on your writing. I’m not talking about strictly genre specific books, but any book, writer, or other form of media that inspired you?
Catrin Russell: My absolute biggest influence, acting as my gateway drug into adult fantasy, was David Gemmell. Hands down, he wrote some of the best books I’ve ever read and his way of creating worlds and characters so effortlessly has inspired me immensely. Other sources of inspiration have been Lois McMaster Bujold and Janny Wurts, with their high fantasy style prose and touches of both romance and magic.In addition to this, I’ve taken plenty of inspiration from anime and manga! Some of my favourites are The Ancient Magus’ Bride by Kore Yamazaki, Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi, and last (but oh so not least!!) Berserk by Kentaro Miura! Love it!I also take a lot of inspiration from my gamer background, mostly from the classic Dungeons and Dragons universe, both the table top game but also digital franchises such as Neverwinter Nights and Baldur’s Gate. I love the dark, medieval worlds they offer! They offer me all the danger and grittiness I can ever need!
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: I’ll turn this around now and ask you if you’ve read any good Fantasy or Sci-Fi that you can recommend to our audience.
Catrin Russell: I would recommend any and all the authors mentioned above (all are fantasy in some way or another), but I’ve recently come across more and more indie authors! They include Angel Haze (omg, her battle scenes!), Christopher Russell (that world-building!), Jamie Edmundson (Og-Grim-Dog is hilarious), and CF Welburn (his poetic prose is so unique it’s to die for!). Then, if you’re up for some satirical fantasy, check out Michael Evan’s and JMD Reid’s collab series. Hilarious and heartfelt at the same time!
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying our books. I love the feedback! So what takes up most of your time when you aren’t writing?
Catrin Russell: My kids! 3 of them, in fact. My oldest is 5, middle one is 3 and youngest is 9 months, so they do take up a lot of time. I also have 2 dogs, and then I need a bit of a break away from writing too. On those occasions, I try to sit down and draw. It’s a relaxing pastime, so I often manage to plot or solve problems from my writing projects while drawing. And I get to bring my characters to life since they are the most common subject matter! The best of both worlds there.
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: How much of yourself do you put into your characters? And as a second part of the question, do people from your personal life inspire characters in your stories?
Catrin Russell: When I first started out with The Light of Darkness series, I decided to use a lot of my own personality in Anaya, as a way of streamlining her decisions, asking myself: what would I do here? It is not an exact science, but I believe she is the closest one to being based on myself. Samael is inspired by my husband, but exaggerated (as an example, my hubby once told me he struggled to chat with women, so in Samael’s case, women are scared of him, and so on). In fact, my husband has inspired more than one character, where I’ve used a certain trait from him and blown it out of proportion.Edric’s personality (not backstory) was inspired by a person I grew up with, and he suffered from mental health issues. He had a certain way of acting in order to keep people at bay, and that’s what I tried to achieve as I designed Edric. Most of my other characters are completely fictional.
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: I’ve often tried to take examples from my life, pretty much immortalizing my wife and I as characters. My newest character is based on my son, and another is also. Tribute to a friend. Its cool to be able to do that with your creativity. So how do you enjoy networking with readers? Do you feel this is important for Indie authors?
Catrin Russell: I love networking with bookish people in general, but my readers are obviously extra special since they have spent their time devouring my books! It’s such a great feeling when they tell me they enjoyed them, and when they’ve taken something away from the pages, be it through the characters, environments, or story, or all! I love to hear from my readers and that’s why I invite everyone to join my Facebook group, Lights of Darkness: Catrin Russell’s readers’ group. I think it’s super important as an author to listen to your readers, not only for feedback on your stories, but also to help motivate you to keep creating!
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: So what’s next for you this year?
Catrin Russell: Oh, I’ve got plenty planned for 2021, not in the least in this first quarter! The first book of The Light of Darkness series (The Power of Conviction) is already available on Amazon, but the second (The Path of Salvation) will also be released soon, scheduled for March. With the rest of the year, I am hoping to finish The Light of Darkness series, with all the books released before the end of the year. The third book (The Resurgence of Light) releases in April, but my readers out there will have to stay tuned for the rest!I’m also hoping I’ll get through it all with my sanity intact and without driving my dear publishers insane in the process!In addition, I’ve got a couple of short stories (or, erm… novelettes) that I’m planning to release as additional freebies for signing up to my newsletter. Not sure if I’ll manage that soon or not though…Then anything else that might pop up along the way! Lots of bookish adventures, I’m hoping!
Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus: That’s sounds brilliant. I like to end all my interviews with this question. If you could offer any advice for new and aspiring writers, what would that be?
Catrin Russell: My one and best advice has been said many times before, but it’s worth repeating: keep writing. If you don’t write, you’ll have nothing to work with, nothing to promote, and nothing to publish. It’s where it all starts and that’s where you have to put your focus. Finish that first draft! You can do it!