1.You describe your stories as epic fantasies with dark undertones. What drew you to this genre and type of story?
I have always been drawn to dark and gritty genres in all types of entertainment – horror films, true crime shows, certain types of music, etc., so I believe a touch of this will always show through in my writing. Part of the darkness I mention is also due to subject matter. I delve into the human mind and look at how psychological aspects might affect people and the choices they make. However, my books are mainly influenced by more classic fantasy with a medieval world, swords and bows, and a bit of magic. This comes from reading other books of this genre (such as those written by David Gemmell), but also from playing plenty of video games growing up, as well as watching animes and reading mangas.
Furthermore, I tend to add a third genre into the mix – romance. I’ve always loved a bit of romance, especially the slow burns and classy steamy scenes. The best of both (or all?) worlds! In my own opinion, anyway!
2.When you were creating the background world to The Light of Darkness series, did you have a specific place in mine?
Not really, other than I wanted a world where the characters would see all the different season. I think it adds a certain beauty, with the budding flowers in spring, the light and heat of summer, the shifting colours of autumn, and the snow and darkness of winter. I suppose it is not too dissimilar from where I live myself. I would say the Midlands (where most of the series takes place) is probably a north- to mid-European climate. However, the expanded world has everything from swamps, mountains, lowlands, steppes, deserts, and so on, and the reader does get to meet people from plenty of these places as the series progresses.
3.How did the characters develop as you wrote the novels? Were you surprised at any changes to their personalities?
I usually design my characters quite meticulously ahead of writing, but since I’m a pantser, they do tend to do their own thing in the end. Some end up as a love interest, where they weren’t initially cast for such a role, whereas others change in ways the reader might not expect, depending on how their motivations and actions are portrayed.
The one character who really took his sweet time to settle into a groove was Edric. He is part of the main cast, and is the main character of one of my prequels (The Redeemed). He is rude at times, obnoxious at others, and suffers from a snappy attitude, but as the reader gets to know him, you get the feeling there is more to him than meets the eye. There is a reason behind his abrasive personality and why he acts like he does. As I finally wrote his complete backstory, I mainly changed some of the ways he spoke. I didn’t soften him, as such, but I streamlined his outward communication and interaction with others.
4.Do you see yourself in the stories?
The one character I based the most on myself is probably the main character – Anaya. Like me, she tends to do things with conviction. We’re like a dog with a bone, and won’t relent until we have given something our all. She is fiercely loyal and tries to help others whenever possible; also traits I can see in myself. Oh, and we always burn food while cooking. Don’t even get me started on this one.
5.What made you write the prequels?
As a new author, I’ve had (and still have) a lot to learn! One of those things was how to build a newsletter successfully. When delving into this subject, I researched the most popular sites to do build a following, and I found myself needing a reader magnet to join in on all the fun. I tried to think of a story that would be short, but meaningful, to really complement the series. And thus spawned the idea for my first prequel – the origin story, Righteous Dawn. It takes place 4 decades before the series, and offers a glimpse into how the Priesthood was initially formed.
My second prequel, The Redeemed, I wrote because a dear friend of mine wanted to read Edric’s story. I felt it was a good idea because he has an immensely heavy backstory which I thought should be told. Not that the reader doesn’t get to experience some of this through the series, but it’s much more touching and heartfelt in the way I fleshed out his backstory through The Redeemed. Edric is also a favourite character of mine, so it felt right.
6.Do you have a regular writing routine?
With 3 kids, aged 5, 3, and 0 (9 months)? That’d be a no, I’m afraid. Although it is regular to the point of me literally writing whenever I’m allowed, pretty much every day, after the kids have gone to bed and until I near fall asleep on my keyboard!
7.Where do you prefer to write?
In the best of worlds: on my own, using my laptop while listening to some nice music.
In reality? On my phone, while feeding the baby and taking her to bed… You know – mom life! To be honest, I’m happy as long as no one is screaming while I’m trying to write. That’s a win in my book.
8.Has any aspect of your traveling enabled your writing?
The biggest enabler of my writing is my husband, and what I mean by that is not purely because he supports me, but because he has fed me a lot of the English language. Expressions – and words – which I previously didn’t know what they were. Our relationship and, subsequently, my travels to England has enriched my language immensely, and my books are definitely the better for it.
9.When did you start writing?
*Drumroll* to ready you all for the most common answer known to man!
I have been writing since forever. But I started doing it more seriously with a close friend and neighbour in my preteens. We wrote A LOT, and it was absolutely atrocious, but we had so much fun! And I was hooked. I’ve been writing ever since, but mainly little snippets here and there, and I never really finished anything to the point where I would even have someone else read it… Well, until now, that is!
I finished my first book in 2019, The Power of Conviction, which is currently being released by Fallbrandt Press. It is also my first complete novel in English, and I’m super happy with how it came out!
10. Tell us about your latest novel.
The Power of Conviction (release date January 27th) is the first book of The Light of Darkness series, and it centers around the priestess Anaya. She is skilled wielding the Light and thus highly ranked, battling alongside her spiritual brothers and sisters. As part of the Priesthood, they attempt to put an end to the demonic incursion, paving their way through blood and gore on an almost daily basis.
But things are not always what they seem, and Anaya’s beliefs are challenged through the story. She is forced to choose between heart and duty as fate, prophecies and an impossible love will blur the very line between good and evil.
Now, go read it!! There are another 5 of these bad boys coming!
11.Where do you see your writing career going in the next five years?
The absolute dream would be to write full-time. But if I at least manage to be a part-time writer, I think I will be pretty proud of myself. My recent signing with Fallbrandt Press has really given me the confidence that this is a career I can pursue and I’m like that dog with a bone now! I won’t let it go!
12.Do you have a specific message for your readers?
Feel like some medieval action, fighting, magic, blood, and gore, but still sweet romance, steam, and heartache? I’ve got something I think you might enjoy! Check out my series, The Light of Darkness!!
And sign up to my newsletter and receive my two prequels for free! The link can be found under question 14!
Also, don’t hesitate to follow me or send a message on social media. I love to connect with readers and all kinds of bookish people!
13.Who are your favorite authors?
My absolute favourites have to be David Gemmell, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Janny Wurts! They are my primary sources of inspiration, and I absolutely love their work!
14.Please share your social media sites and website link.
Visit my website for more information, and sign up to my newsletter for those freebies!
Catrin Russell is a Fantasy and Romance author from northern Sweden. Her books are all written in English and are mainly part of the Epic and High Fantasy Genre. However, she does use influences from Dark Fantasy, and a touch of Fantasy Romance. Growing up outside a small town, basically in the middle of nowhere, Catrin eventually moved to Stockholm, where she studied computer game development and design. Meeting her soon-to-become husband online, she lived outside of London for the best parts of a year, before finally settling down in Piteå, back in Sweden. Since then, two children and two dogs have joined the family. With a background in design and holding a degree as a registered nurse, she writes novels in medieval settings, with plenty of action and romance. She often brings moral struggles, or highlights issues in society, into her writing. Another subject that is often highlighted is mental health. Catrin also creates concept art, bringing her characters to life on the screen, and her own cover designs, much of which can be seen on her social media pages!
As many of you know, I commit to a blog schedule at the end of each year for the up coming year. In 2021, my twice weekly posts will continue to be divided between writing topics and delving into my books and writing life for my readers.
I hope you will find the content interesting, enlightening and fun. I will post every Tuesday and Thursday each week as follows:
Bibliophile’s Collective Tuesday
Stories behind my published books and also from works in progress.
Update on events I will be attending – if possible physically, if not virtually in 2021
Glimpses at my current writing project.
Sharing short stories or poem’s I have written from prompts or workshops.
My book reviews
Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday
Special Interviews with authors from Creative Edge
Author Toolbox – once a month
Monthly Author Interviews (please sign up for one – first Thursday of every month.)
I will continue with my monthly newsletter, so please sign up when prompted. I hope we can develop a great relationship with this new venture – Sneek Peeks & Glimpses. Thank you in anticipation.
I was delighted to win a draw for a copy of Being Grateful, Being Thankful by Sarah Butland recently and she was kind enough to send two copies, one of which I gave to a friend.
We take so much for granted – water, light, heat, friends & family, homes, finances, transport and more.
But do we ever consider life without these? A power outage, a burst water pipe, no internet service – any of these things brings the realization that when it works we don’t give them a second thought. Then we are uncomfortable, sad and sometimes frustrated.
This unique book puts us into a mind set to be thankful for our world, our life, our luxuries. We are blessed and giving thanks is a way to give back to the universe. https://www.amazon.ca/Being-Grateful-Thankful-Sarah-Butland/dp/0993786413
Remember to keep your 2020 pledge and review every book you read. Even a sentence will do!
GIFT Presents: Intro to Screenwriting
I attended an event on 7th March by GIFT (Girls in Film & Television). This is an avenue of writing I want to explore, learn and master. After all every fiction author wants to see their story on the big screen. The workshop focused on secrets to the golden rules of screenwriting, focusing on short film format. Teaching us how to write full and dynamic characters, how to structure our story, and how to format our script like a pro.
Do you have a favorite book you wish would be made into a movie?
I finished editing one client’s manuscript and almost immediately dove into another manuscript but this time for a friend, who is part of the monthly workshop, I am participating in. This will allow other authors to read my work and comment and I will do the same for them.
Update on Steampunk novel: The Commodore’s Gift.
I had a brainwave when it came to incorporating more ‘mechanical’ elements into the narrative and will add a certain physical characteristic to the Commodore. Subscribe to my newsletter to find out what it is…Sneek Peeks & Glimpses.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Writing energizes me unless it’s a really emotional scene and then I’m exhausted. Being a writer, being able to sit down and write each day, it fills my well. My husband knows when I haven’t found time to write…apparently, I tend to get slightly grumpy (lol).
What is your writing Kryptonite? This is a hard question to answer. Let me get back to you…(I’m afraid to admit to it because then it’ll be real, you know?)
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Absolutely. In fact, I’ve decided to create a pen name for a new series of books I’ll be writing and publishing starting this summer. But it won’t be a secret – I’ll be writing under J.M. Jack.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have a community of writers that are near and dear to my heart. There’s a group of four that get together once a month and chat almost daily. Then I have a large online group that I meet up with every conference I can attend. The community of writers is amazing and I’m so glad to have a large group of peers I can call friends.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? I prefer to write standalones but I have written a few series. I find them harder to write – probably because when I began them, they weren’t series in my head.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? Signing up for classes with Margie Lawson. She has changed my writing! As well as purchasing Scrivener and Vellum.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? House by Ted Dekker.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? A black sheep!
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Probably around 5 that will never see the light of day.
What does literary success look like to you? Having a vast readership where people can name me as one of their favourite authors.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? I tend to research as I’m writing. It can be in the form of reading articles, calling professionals…whatever is needed.
How many hours a day/week do you write? I write a minimum of 1000 words a day. Some days I can get those words in 2 hrs, some days it takes me 8 hours. I write 5 days a week. I take one day off on the weekend and then plot on the other day.
13. How do you select the names of your characters? I always ask my readers for names…they are the best resource I have!
14. What was your hardest scene to write? Every book has a hard scene to write. In The Forgotten Ones, it was when someone died. I bawled so hard I ended up with a massive headache.
15. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them? I write what I love to read and what I’m passionate about. I tend to focus on one book at a time so that it gets my full attention.
16. long have you been writing? Full time, since 2010. But I began back in 2005.
17. What inspires you? My family, my faith and my readers.
18. How do you find or make time to write? It’s not a matter of finding time to write, it’s deciding that writing is important to me and so I will write. If anything is important it will become a part of your lifestyle.
19. What projects are you working on at the present? I am working on my upcoming novel that will be out with my publisher in 2019.
20. What do your plans for future projects include? I have a new series that I’ll be publishing beginning this summer that I’m really excited about. It’s about a woman who helps to rescue abused women from cults.
21. Share a link to your author website. steenaholmes.com – I have a free book readers can download if they join my newsletter.