This month our featured author is one of my favourites, and you may already be familiar with his name from my reviews of his books. Mike Russell is the author of three books which can all be described as strange, odd, and surreal. So prepare yourself to delve into the mind of the man who creates such incredible stories, and find out where all the weirdness comes from.
About the author:
Mike Russell was born in 1973. He grew up in the small village of Pulborough in the south of England. As a child, he enjoyed daydreaming, art and writing strange stories. As an adult, he enjoys daydreaming, art and writing strange stories.
Mike Russell’s books have been described as Strange Fiction, Weird Fiction, Weird Lit, Surrealism, Fantasy Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Metaphysical Fiction… but he just likes to call them Strange Books.
“Russell’s stories are humorous, engaging and poetically direct.” Beautiful Bizarre Magazine
“Simple yet wacky… funny and charming. Mike Russell seems to have mastered the art of throwing absurdities onto paper, while keeping his writing bright and interesting at the same time.” Cultured Vultures
“I always look forward to Mike Russell’s work – he’s so out there that it’s refreshing.” Oddly Weird Fiction
Describe your ideal writing atmosphere.
I used to need all doors and windows to be closed so that I was in a hermetically sealed space! Thankfully for my girlfriend and cats that is no longer the case. I don’t need anything now other than inspiration. I tend to forget to eat and drink when I am writing though so perhaps some sort of intravenous drip would be good.
How long have you been writing and what inspired you to start?
I began writing seriously when I was 12 years old. I began writing a novel called ‘Imagine Infinity’. I designed the book cover and wrote about twenty pages before deciding that I needed more life experience and abandoned it. I thought this early attempt was lost until my parents found it in their loft a couple of years ago. I still like the title. Years later, I began performing my stories in clubs & bars and happily I kept being invited to do more. This showed me that there was an audience for my writing. The stories in my first book Nothing Is Strange have all been performed many times and have been carefully honed over many years.
Describe your writing style.
Succinct. I write with the intention of creating a vivid, immersive world for the reader to enter into. The language is chosen to aid that immersion rather than obstruct it.
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
What kind of story that hasn’t been written yet do you want to read?
I agree with the quote. I write the books that I want to read. I am not alone in this world therefore I feel that if I want to read the books I write, there must be others who will also want to read them. Thankfully, that is proving to be true!
Name any authors or books that have had an impact on your writing.
Angela Carter, Philip K Dick, Bruno Schultz, Franz Kafka.
Describe the moment you truly felt like an author.
I love to write and I love to be read. Hearing that someone has enjoyed and, more importantly, benefitted from reading one of my books is a wonderful feeling.
What book by another author do you wish you’d written?
I am very pleased that other authors have written the books that I love. For me, what is important is that the books exist rather than who wrote them. If someone else had written my books that would be fine by me, it would have saved me a lot of work, but they didn’t so I had to write them!
What is the best thing about writing/being a writer?
Receiving inspiration. I have moments of inspiration that come at odd times. It is always something new to me, giving a certain insight beyond what I already know and it comes with a small euphoria. Where it comes from is a mystery. I love inspiration. I love exploring the places that inspiration reveals to me and I have a huge desire to share what I discover. We are all mysteries surrounded by mystery and filled with mystery! I like to explore that mystery.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Be true to yourself. Selling one copy of an original, heartfelt book is better than selling a billion copies of a derivative, dishonest book. If you are true to yourself you have the chance of bringing something new into the world and helping to change it for the better.
Tell the story behind your latest book, why did you write it?
My latest book is a novella called Strungballs. It began many years ago as a painting. (I studied art to MA level, exhibited for many years and taught art degree students for ten years.) The transition from a painting to a novella came about as I felt there was a whole world that the painting intimated but did not show. I began therefore to explore that world. Strungballs is the result.
Most inspiring quote?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr Seuss
Which author (living or dead) would you like to have dinner with?
If you could bring any fictional character to life, who would you choose?
The cat in the hat.
How do you beat writers block?
Thankfully it is not something I suffer from. I also think that if there is no inspiration to write then it is probably best not to write.
Give yourself some writing advice.
Buy more pens.
What are your plans for the future? What writing projects are you currently working on?
I have a number of novels in production as well as more short story collections. I can say no more! If you follow us at www.strangebooks.com you will be notified when each new book is released!
Synopsis for each book:
‘Nothing Is Strange’ is a collection of 20 mind-expanding short stories.
“A unique collection of short stories that takes readers to bizarre places and lets them experience dreamlike situations that I have yet to read in other books.” Readers’ Favourite
‘Strange Medicine’ is a fantastic collection of extraordinary tales of transformation.
“Full of meaning and emotion, with an awesome front cover to go with it. Great Stuff.” Always Trust In Books
‘Strungballs’ is a surreal, science-fiction/fantasy novella.
“This is like nothing I have ever read before… a highly unique, weird and perhaps even mind-altering reading experience.” Fantasy Book Review
What are Strungballs? Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out… but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believe in when he embarks upon a journey that will reveal the astonishing secrets hidden by the red balls on white strings known only as… Strungballs.