This week, I’d like to introduce you to Russell Moran, the author of twelve novels and five non-fiction works. A lawyer and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, Russell lives on Long Island, New York, with his wife, Lynda.
Let’s learn more about him:
What are your ambitions for your writing career? To write as many high quality books as my years allow me. Emphasis on “high Quality.”
Which writers inspire you? Nelson DeMille, Stephen King, Estelle Ryan, Kristin Hannah
So, what have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest, professional or hobby.) The Gray Ship is Book One of The Time Magnet series. (Number one Amazon Best-Seller, and recipient of a Kirkus Best Indie Books of 2013. Also won four other awards.)
The Thanksgiving Gang is Book Two of The Time Magnet series.
A Time of Fear is Book Three of The Time Magnet series.
The Skies of Time is Book Four of The Time Magnet series.
The Keepers of Time is Book Five of The Time Magnet series.
The Shadows of Terror is Book One of The Patterns series.
The Scent of Revenge is Book Two of The Pattern Series
A Reunion in Time is a time travel novel, but not in The Time Magnet Series.
Sideswiped, a legal thriller, is Book One of the Matt Blake Series.
The Reformers is Book Two of the Matt Blake Series.
The President is Missing is Book Three of the Matt Blake Series.
Robot Depot, published in August, is a novel about our automated future.
A Climate of Doubt, a terrorism thriller. May 2018.
The Maltese Incident, is Book One of the Harry and Meg Series, June of 2018.
The Violent Sea, Sequel to The Maltese Incident – Coming soon.
I also published five nonfiction books: Justice in America: How it Works—How it Fails; The APT Principle: The Business Plan That You Carry in Your Head; Boating Basics: The Boattalk Book of Boating Tips; If You’re Injured: A Consumer Guide to Personal Injury Law; How to Create More Time.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? All my books include a strong male and a strong female character. Not without flaws (As in Sideswiped, where the two lovers discover they both once had problems with drugs and alcohol.
What are you currently working on and what is it about? The Violent Sea, a sequel to The Maltese Incident. It’s about time travel, and as always, two strong characters who compliment each other.
What drew you to write in this genre? I’ve always been fascinated by time travel, in that it allows the author to completely suspend reality and speculate on what may have been, or what might be.
How much research do you do? A lot. I try to make my fantastic stories believable by anchoring them in solid facts, including history. I don’t know what writers ever did without Google.
Have you written works in collaboration with other writers, and if so: why did you decide to collaborate and did it affect your sales? No. I’ve served as a beta reader and editor for a few other authors but haven’t collaborated.
When did you decide to become a writer? In 2012, after listening for the umpteenth time to my wife asking me, “When are you going to write a novel?” I’ve been a writer all my life, mostly as a legal journalist, but fiction began with The Gray Ship, begun in 2012 and published in 2013.
Do you write full-time or part-time? Yes, full time.
How often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write? I try to write every day, except for those days when I’m consumed by marketing. I do not have a specific time that I write. I look at what’s ahead in my day and then decide to hit the keyboard.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? 2,000 words a day when working on a first draft. No number allocation for rewrites.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? Computer. I can’t believe that Nelson DeMille, as great as he is, writes on yellow pads.
Where do your ideas come from? This is a great question and I wish I had an answer. I just sit (or walk) and think. Suddenly an idea shows up. I start to ask “what if,” and a few months later a book shows up. I look back at all my books and for the life of me I can’t recall how the story popped up. Maybe Stephen King is right—stories are like fossils and it’s the writer’s job to unearth them.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I am what I call an In-Betweener, halfway between a strict outliner and a “panster,” who writes from the seat of his pants. I keep trying to outline, but the story suddenly takes me off my outline in a different direction.
What is the hardest thing about writing? Being “stuck,” when the wonderful story idea you had suddenly sucks and it’s hard to repair it. I have a book project like that right now. I hate it. Will I expect readers to like it?
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Being stuck. See my above response.
What is the easiest thing about writing? Getting to know my characters. They become like old friends.
How long on average does it take you to write a book? About six months.
Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it? I refuse to acknowledge the existence of writer’s block. See my responses above about “being stuck,” which is different from writer’s block. Once I can see a story in front of me I just charge ahead and the words flow out my fingertips. My tip? Keep on writing.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. See my response to number 2 above.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? I love to read on my Kindle (or iPhone).
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you? I proof and edit my own books, and also have two editors to find my (many) mistakes.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes, let it stew. When you come back to it it’s a fresh story, and time to murder your darlings.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process? I think so, at least that’s what professional cover designers keep telling me. My simple requirement is that it should grab the eye and create intrigue.
How are you publishing this book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or both) My next book will be my first traditionally published novel, thanks in no small part to Randall Krzak, who told me all about the publisher.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? I could write a book on this question alone. Indie publishers have come into their own as the brilliant writer Hugh Howey has noted. I know a lot of writers who signed their rights away to a small publisher and are stuck without marketing.
Would you or do you use a PR agency? I’d consider it, although I haven’t given it much thought.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books? Get reviews and keep at it.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book? 50 percent.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Most “bad” reviews are really not reviews at all but “hits,” from people with an agenda I can’t control. In three-star reviews, however, there is useful critical information.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you? A woman came up to my table at a book signing and said she had been looking forward to buying my book. She then walked off with it without paying. I later found out that she suffered from dementia. I hope she remembers my book.
What’s your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you? I do Twitter and Facebook all the time, but I’m not sure I see any results.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do when writing? Don’t put it off, just write. You can’t edit a document that doesn’t exist.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work? No, I haven’t but I probably should.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Email.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future? I wish I paid more attention to my sub-titles. They’re great for marketing.
What do you think of “trailers” for books, and do you have a trailer/will you create one for your own work? I think trailers are great, but just be careful not to spend too much. I did one for The Gray Ship, and it seemed to help. Cost me $250, which I think is cheap.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why? Yes, if you have a reasonable expectation that the done will promote you.
If you hired someone else to format your work, how did you select them and what was your experience? After Createspace got out of the formatting business I’ve hired designers/formatters for about $500. My next self-published book will be done by myself with the software Vellum (but you need to have a Mac).
How do you relax? I read and write.
What is your favorite motivational phrase. “You can avoid reality, but you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” Ayn Rand
What is your favorite quote? “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Anton Chekov
What is your favorite movie and why? The Godfather, I and II. Nothing has come close.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t smoke.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why? Abraham Lincoln, the image of greatness. He even made it into my first novel.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers? Always find ways to improve your craft.
Where do you see publishing going in the future? Self-publishing and small publishers will blend in many ways.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse? It’s a gift, but sometimes it feels like a curse. However, I can’t imagine my life without the joy of writing.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content? Keeping dates and numbers straight. I try to force myself to type in numbers and dates into a separate document that I can search on.
Did you come across any specific challenges in writing? What would you do differently the next time? No
What do your fans mean to you? Everything. At a book signing, a couple of ladies walked up to me and asked if certain characters, by name, will appear in future books. Made my day. My biggest fan unfortunately is off the grid and doesn’t even own a computer or smart phone. She thinks Amazon is a river. But she always praises me in public whenever we meet.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day? Creating characters and scenes lies before me.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? Yes, The Edge of Sadness, by Edwin O’Connor. I was blown away by the author’s use of words, and the way he wove a beautiful story without a lot of action. From then on I started my library. I was a high school sophomore at the time.
What motivated you to become an indie author? I went through a few weeks of querying and pitching and then decided that I’d go it on my own. My favorite response came 30 seconds after I hit send, saying the usual crap about my fine talent but I was just not a right fit for them. I’d rather talk to myself, because I don’t BS myself.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Yes, The Gray Ship, like it was yesterday.
When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? My characters tell me who they are and create their own dialog. Sound weird but it’s true.
Tell us about your writing process and the way you brainstorm story ideas. Once a story idea pops into my head I jot down “beats” usually asking the “what if” question.
Where is your favorite place to write? My library, which is also my office – With a stand-up desk I might add.
What marketing strategies do you find most helpful? Any resources you would recommend to other authors or aspiring authors? I strongly recommend the Author Marketing Club, amc.com, as well as Writer’s Digest and its tutorials.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into Russell’s writing journey. Follow him at: https://www.morancom.com/
Stayed tuned for another author interview soon!
© Copyright 2018 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved