Russell Brooks is a former Indiana Hoosier Track Champion and Canadian Track Team member in the 100 and 200 metres. He has written several essays on his blog The Big Picture, one of which was published in the online Op-Ed section of the National Post in early 2009. He has also written the short story, To The Last Bite, and produced his own poetry/novel-themed show, The Russell Show, on YouTube. He currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.
You can learn more about Russell Brooks at www.russellparkway.com
Pandora’s Succession is now available on Amazon. Just click the picture to the left.
What age group is Pandora’s Succession geared towards?
It’s for an adult audience. Many readers and reviewers so far have compared it to The Bourne Identity. Many have also said that it would easily translate to a film.
Into which genre would you say it falls?
It falls within two genres. I marketed it as action/thriller, but some book bloggers have described it as science fiction meets spy novel
Tell us a little about your book?
A CIA operative is assigned to intercept the sale of a hyperdeadly biological weapon only to discover that he’s caught in the middle of a war between various organizations that want the weapon for themselves, even those that work for various Government agencies.
What is your favourite scene?
My favourite scene would have to be the part where Ridley Fox, the CIA operative, meets Dr Nita Parris, a fellow CIA operative under NOC (Non-official Cover) during the mission. Coincidentally she’s also someone from his past that he nearly got killed.
Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
The story and some of the characters were inspired by the sarin gas attacks that occured in the Tokyo subway in 1995, perpetrated by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. I was amazed at how can someone as their leader, Shoko Asahara, be so charismatic to lure students and professionals to following him. It’s from that point that the story began to come together.
Can you sum Pandora’s Succession up in one sentence?
On the eve of the worst bioweapons attack the world will ever know, the only person Ridley Fox could trust to stop it is the woman he nearly got killed.
Who is your favourite character and why?
Dr Tabitha Marx. Villains tend to interest me more than the heroes because they can either make or break a story. She also has the most complex background, being an American born in the Middle East and having both parents as intelligence operatives. In the end their actions led to the downfall of their family and the direct influence on how Dr Marx became the person that she is. She’s also the symbol of everything that can go wrong when you have a brilliant scientist working for a government agency, gaining our trust, and then working against us. It’s interesting that after I created her character, news broke about the Anthrax mail letters in the US which concluded with military scientist, Bruce Ivins, taking his life. It was uncanny the similarities of the two characters and how Ivin’s example illustrates that this sort of thing is very real.
Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Actually subject matter comes first, usually something that is inspired by actual events or an article that I may have read. From that I spin together a plot and the characters come afterwards naturally.
Are there e-books and hard copies available?
I self-published this novel as an ebook. Hard copy versions are in the works.
Are there any upcoming signings or appearances you’d like to mention?
I already completed my virtual book tour on November 14 with great results. I’ve been reviewed several times by bloggers and they’ve posted their reviews to their blogs, Amazon, and even on Goodreads, where word of Pandora’s Succession is spreading virally.
Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I don’t have an agent. I’ve done everything on my own. I’ve had a lot of professional help from my writing coach, Victory Crayne, who’s introduced me to her friend, Jerry Simmons, of the INDY Publishing Group. He’s assisted me tremendously, and even introduced me to his friend, Jeff Rivera, an author and also the CEO of GumboWriters.com. They all had a hand in getting Pandora’s Succession off the ground.
What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
I’ve been on internet radio, reviewed by book bloggers, written guest posts on blogs, and I’m constantly on twitter, youtube and facebook.
What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
There’s no particular moment in a day that’s more productive. Sometimes I may be up at 2AM writing because I have a great idea that I want to get on paper right away while it’s there.
Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
Not paper, usually index cards. They’re easier to carry around. I then use those to come up with an outline which I type out on my laptop.
What do you draw inspiration from?
Inspiration usually comes from events in the news. It may be more than one event, added to an article I may read in a magazine. I’ll keep reading until I get a “What if… ” moment.
Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
Yes. It’s important for me to write between 72,000 and 85,000 words
What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?
I prefer to do something that allows me to be my own boss.
What are you working on now that you can talk about?
I’m working on a mystery/adventure novel. I wasn’t ready to take on another story that involved extraordinary amounts of research. So I wrote something that was more local and involved a different kind of conspiracy that fans.
What is your writing process like? Do you do a lot of background research? Do you plot every detail or do you prefer the characters to move the story in new directions, or a combination of both?
Pandora’s Succession was split between character and plot to move the story forward. Ridley Fox, the protagonist, was dealing with personal issues before the story started and was haunted by them when the story took place. Certain situations during the story forced him to come to terms with past mistakes and unresolved issues. These issues that Fox faced influenced some of the decisions that he made. Research was very important while writing PS because I didn’t know anything about weapons, the intelligence community, martial arts, the military. Since it’s likely that people working in those fields or who have a strong background in them would take an interest in my novel, then it’s important to be accurate in order to maintain credibility, or else I’ll easily lose readers. Due to the complexities of the plot, it was important to look over every detail.
Do you belong to a critique group?
I’ve never joined one. My content editor helped me with the strengths and weaknesses of my novel.
How long does it take you to write a book? Have your written other books (give titles)?
I’ve been writing for the past 22 years. I was in high school when I started writing a manuscript and rewriting what is now Pandora’s Succession.
How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
No, I didn’t always want to be a writer. I wanted to be a professional track athlete. But injuries sidelined my career so I moved onto other things. However, I was always writing on the side. As time went on I began to take it more seriously when I saw that I had potential.
Are you working on another book? Possible to have a preview snippet or blurb of that?
Yes, I’m working on two books right now. The next one is a mystery/adventure. I can’t say much about it except that it’s a huge step away from the complexities of Pandora’s Succession. It was a relief to write something that did not involve as much research. The third will be the sequel to Pandora’s Succession.
What mistakes do you see new writers make?
Not getting their works properly edited and being scammed by unscrupulous publishing companies. I continue to read about several first-time authors who unknowingly throw their money away to these companies and agents without doing proper research. I feel sorry for them because with search engines like Google, Yahoo!, etc. it is much the general public to find out if a company is reputable or not. When companies mess up, it’s difficult for them to hide. Yet, many debut authors still go to them, either out of pride or ignorance.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Don’t feel bad if you’re rejected by an agent or a publisher, it happens to all of us. Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions to other people who you may meet along the way. I strongly recommend checking out JA Konrath’s website: JAKonrath.com and read his Newbies Guide to Publishing ebook. It’s free and it contains a wealth of information that is very useful for everyone.
What is your website and/or blog where readers can learn more? Can they friend you on Facebook or Twitter?
My website is http://www.russellparkway.com/. My facebook profile is Russell Parkway and my facebook group is Russell Brooks Fans. On Twitter I’m AuthorRussell.
Thank you Russell for your time.