Alan Russell: That’s right. We discussed your latest book Last to Die and explored your San Diego roots.
TG: Being a San Diego native, my first few winters in Maine weren’t easy.
AR: I think I’d hibernate.
TG: Actually, winters are my most productive time to write. And speaking of hibernation I understand you’ve emerged from it with a new book (Burning Man).
TG: I missed Shame the first time around. What’s it about?
AR: My first insight into writing the book occurred when I read about Ted Bundy fathering a child while in prison. That got me to thinking about how terrible it would be to be the child of a serial murderer.
TG: So much for a normal childhood.
AR: Exactly. Given that circumstance, I figure I’d want to escape the sins of the father as soon as I could. And that’s what my protagonist does.
TG: Let me guess, he’s not able to escape his past?
AR: Even though he has tried to carve out a life outside of his father’s shadow, it’s always there. His wife and children have no idea about his past, but it still taints him. The past catches up with him when a series of murders occur with his father’s M.O. Suddenly, he’s not only outed, he’s the prime suspect.
TG: That doesn’t sound like an easy book to write.
AR: It was the book from hell. I was on deadline and for the only time in my life I was late. In order to make the book right, I had to balance the past of the father with the present of the son. I also found it necessary to have not one major protagonist, but three. I brought in a true crime author whose career path was started when she survived the father’s visit to her sorority and he spared her life. And filling out the triumvirate is a drag queen.
TG: Dare I ask if that’s something you have personal experience with?
AR: The only time I’ve been in drag was when I played the role of Mother Ginger in the West Coast Ballet Company’s performances of the Nutcracker. And no, I’m not a dancer. The only reason I was in that production is that I’m 6’ 7” and they needed a tall performer to hide all the little dancers under a huge hoop skirt. Someone recommended me for my height, and though I was terrified at the prospect of performing as a writer I couldn’t say no to such an experience.
TG: Do you have pictures?.
AR: You wouldn’t want to see them. I was not an attractive woman. My oldest son claims he still has PTSD from seeing me dressed that way.
TG: Do you still think of Shame as your book from hell?
AR: I must admit I really enjoyed rereading it. I guess enough time passed to forget the pain. It must be like women with childbirth. And speaking of childbirth, even when you were a practicing doctor and the mother of two you kept up a demanding writing regimen and still do. What’s your secret?
TG: Sheer stubbornness and an obsessive-compulsive streak. I hate missing deadlines, so I stay at my desk until it's done.
About the Author
Alan Russell is an award-winning writer and California native whose wild imagination continues to get the best of him when it comes to his literary achievements. A proud father of three and an avid gardener, Alan blames his busy home-life for the long delay between works—though his readers agree each new book is worth the wait. Inspired by the “what if” factor, Shame is his sixth novel and explores the psychological inner-workings of a serial killer whose son is forced to live in his shadow. Drawn to the bold and daring, Alan continues to churn out new page-turners that are sure to continue to thrill his readers.