Today I’m very pleased to be able to share with you an interview I did with Mike Russell, author of Nothing is Strange (a mind-bending short story collection).
How did you first come to be a writer?
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 writing again. Then one day a friend was putting together a spoken-word event. Knowing that I wrote things, she asked me to contribute. This led to many years of regularly performing my stories in clubs, bars, galleries and various other strange venues. Happily, I just kept being invited to do more. This proved to me that there was an audience for my writing. I then began publishing my stories.
What is your book about?
‘Nothing Is Strange’ is a collection of 20 mind-expanding short stories.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration for me is exactly that. 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 is your writing routine?
I schedule time when I know I can write for a long stretch without having to do anything else. I write with pen and paper and only move to the computer towards the end of the process. It is good to remain in a sort of limbo so that you are open to a story changing, even if it means having to destroy weeks of work. Cups of tea and occasional kisses help.
What has your journey to publication been like?
I have always done it independently. Years ago I made hand-bound books of my stories and sold them. I would sew them together, then make cloth covered hardback covers for them. They took ages to make. These days it is so much easier to produce a book. Creative freedom is a wonderful, precious and important thing. To be able to create something that is unique and that has integrity you have to have that freedom. Indie presses are on the increase and to me that is a wonderful thing. www.strangebooks.com is myself and my partner Jay. It is a lot of fun. We have storytelling evenings, book fairs, competitions… ‘Nothing Is Strange’ is our first publication but we have many more in the pipeline. If you follow the website or connect with us through facebook or twitter we will let you know when each new release appears. We are very excited about sharing them. If you believe in what you do then you have the energy to just keep going and going to get your work out there. Again it has to do with inspiration: when you are inspired to create something, you can have total belief in it because its source is as much a mystery to you as it is to everyone else.
What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year?
Lyall Watson’s ‘Gift of Unknown Things’
What are you reading at the moment?
I am currently reading two books: Gary Lachman’s ‘Secret Teachers of the Western World’ and Fernando Arrabal’s ‘The Compass Stone’. I am enjoying both.
Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?
Hmmm… I think ‘What are your stories for?’ is a good question. Stories can have many functions I think. My highest aspiration as a writer is to try to release us (me the writer and you the reader) from all limitations. That is a big aim, right? But it is a very reachable aim. I am sure that we could all name books that have had a profound effect upon us. Stories have that power. They can be more than entertainment whilst still being entertaining. At www.strangebooks.com we say:
“We wish our readers the highest possible outcome from their reading experience. We believe that stories have the potential to be life-changing. So let us not limit the power of the story; let us read with an expectation of the highest possible outcome and allow every story to work its magic.”
The magical aspect of stories has been negated in our present culture. www.strangebooks.com is our small contribution to the re-magicalising of the world. (Yes, I made that word up!)
If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why?
Ideally I would like to have my partner Jay there but as she isn’t a thing I guess I can’t choose her. I never go anywhere without a pen and a pad of post-its. When inspiration comes I need to record it. So that’s two things. For the third I am going to choose a joke book. When all else fails, laugh.
How can people connect with you on social media?
We post competitions, share free stories and all sorts on social media. It’s good fun and we have met some wonderful people. Come and join in!
You can like us on Facebook here: Strange Books
and follow us on Twitter here: @StrangeBooksEye
About the Book:
‘Nothing Is Strange’ is a collection of 20 mind-expanding short stories. ‘Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique…’ all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy… Nothing Is Strange.
Available here: Nothing is Strange
“For me, creating is discovering and storytelling is bringing into the world dreams that are universal. They come from a deep place; they want to be known and they want to help us. Storytelling is a way of turning the world inside out, which I believe it desperately needs.” Mike Russell