To celebrate the release of Blood Axe, I am very pleased to have Leigh Russell as a guest on my blog today. Leigh is sharing her thoughts on what it means to be an author.
Recently someone asked me what I do. When I told her I'm an author, she responded with
a question. 'What makes you call yourself an author, not a writer?' All I could say was that many
people write, but when you earn your living by writing fiction, you are an author. It's a glib
response. According to that definition there are many talented writers, and equally many fairly
So what earns me the right to describe myself as 'an author', rather than 'a writer'. Writing is
a great leveller. Anyone who can write is a writer. How do we distinguish between the dedicated
and the hobbyist? Is it even a meaningful distinction?
We all have days when we struggle with questions about what we're doing with our lives -
or is it just me who sometimes feels like a headless chicken, trying to make sense of the chaos
around me? I wonder how other people deal with those demons of self doubt. As a writer, they go
with the territory. Every book I write takes me back to the beginning. 'Is what I'm writing complete
garbage? This plot is never going to work. What is this character doing?' which leads to the
inevitable next stage, 'What is my editor going to make of this?' followed by 'What will reviewers
and fans think of my new book?'
There are a number of ways I counter my insecurities about my writing, one of which is to
take a step back to review my progress in this crazy career as an author which, like writing itself,
seems to follow no rules.
When I stop to consider how far I've come, I can hardly believe my eleventh book has just
been published since Cut Short came out in 2009. By the end of 2016, the number of my published
books will go up to thirteen... and these numbers don't include the different editions, large print
books, all the titles published in translation... adding them all together, there must be well over fifty
different covers so far... and yes, I have a copy of every one of them, together with proof copies of
all the UK editions. I look at my collection sometimes, when I'm having an insecure writing day,
trying to reassure myself that this is not all a dream. I really have written three series, my research
has taken me as far afield as Paris, Rome, Greece, and the Seychelles, my books are in
development for television...
Yet with all of this success, the insecurity never leaves me. 'So far so good' is all I can say,
because every book is a precarious new venture. Every day is a different story. Which, I suppose,
is appropriate for a fiction writer...
Thanks very much to Leigh for her thoughts on writing and where it has taken her so far. You can find out more about Blood Axe below.
Gruesome, brutal murders, seemingly at random. A killer who leaves no clues. And so another case begins for Detective Inspector Ian Peterson.
Bestselling crime author Leigh Russell returns with the third title in her DI Peterson Murder Investigation series, set against the gothic backdrop of the city of York. Under the shadow of the Minster, DI Peterson is once again tasked with discovering a killer – only this time, he’ll have to use all his skills to uncover who is responsible.