Leigh Russell’s Newsletter August 2017



As well as giving you my news, I’m thrilled to be interviewing bestselling author, Peter James. So open a bottle or brew a cuppa, settle into a comfortable chair, and read on…

Getting to know Peter James

Peter James needs no introduction as the creator of Roy Grace. But what is he really like? 

I started by asking Peter what he would like to have done if he hadn’t been a writer. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Peter to learn that he would like to have been a racing driver.

Which of your many achievements are you most proud of?

The first time I got to number one on the Sunday Times Bestseller list was a highlight. Winning the CWA Diamond Dagger was another one, as was winning the Sussex Police Award for outstanding public service when I worked on a project to help make youngsters aware of date rape.

You do a lot of travelling associated with your writing, and work tirelessly to support the crime writing community. When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

I love animals, and we have a menagerie at home which includes three dogs, five alpacas, and three emus. I love spending time with my animals. I find them incredibly therapeutic against the really dark stuff I sometimes write.  I remember waking to that horrific news about the Manchester bombing, for instance, and just going out and mingling with the animals, and stroking and feeding them is an immensely normalising experience.

By any objective standards you are a phenomenal success as an author, which must have significantly affected your lifestyle. Has this experience changed you as a person?

My dream as a child was to become an author. I didn’t have much confidence when I was young and never thought I would be a success. When I was starting out, I was helped by many established authors, like James Herbert. So now I really try to help other writers who are on their way up the best way I can.

Which of your many exploits would you say was the most dangerous?

Cycling! My wife and I are keen cyclists, but I feel far safer driving in a racing car at 130mph than cycling at 5mph on a London street.

To find out more about Peter James and his books visit peterjames.com or his amazon page. You can also follow him on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And if you’re as intrigued by the alpacas and emus as I was, check out his pets’ Instagram page

A writer’s life…

Recently I was invited to become a Royal Literary Fellow. I’ll tell you all about my role supporting students struggling with their writing when I take up my part-time post in late September. In the meantime, in July I went along to the Royal Literary Fund summer party, where I learned that crime writers are not the only writers who enjoy a good party! With wonderful food, plenty to drink, and a roomful of fascinating people, it was a memorable evening. Fortunately the venue was air conditioned as it was one of those days when the temperature in London hit the mid 30s – far too hot for me!

Still in July, the Crime Writers Association hosted a reception at Waterstones in Piccadilly, where the CWA Dagger Award shortlists were announced. As Chair of the Debut Dagger judging panel, I read out the names of the authors shortlisted for this award for new writers.

And in August, my panel of judges met for lunch to select a winner. It’s a privilege to play a part in this process to support emerging new writers.

So what with becoming a Royal Literary Fellow, and joining the Board of the Crime Writers Association, I seem to have become part of the literary establishment. I’ve always been something of a rebel, so I’ve no idea how that happened! I wrote once that I fell into writing like Alice down the rabbit hole, and that feeling of surprise hasn’t gone away yet…

In addition to my work supporting other writers, and spending time with my family (cue photo of my gorgeous grandaughter), I’ve been writing, of course!.

Deadly Alibi came out in paperback in May. Class Murder, the tenth Geraldine Steel crime novel, will be published in December as an ebook, with the paperback out early in 2018.

And this month I completed the first draft for the eleventh Geraldine Steel book, out in 2018. For obvious reasons it doesn’t look quite like the first draft of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd pictured belowI can’t imagine handwriting my books now!


Finally, thank you to everyone who entered the competition to win a complete set of my re-designed backlist! And congratulations to the winner…

Margaret Worthington!

Thank you so much for reading my newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it, and continue reading my news and interviews in the future. Don’t forget to find me on Twitter and Facebook, and you can contact me via my website if you have any questions for me.

Leigh Russell’s Newsletter – 27th July 2017



I hope you enjoy dipping into it, and thank you so much for stopping by.

Imagine yourself lying on a white sun lounger by a pool, a cool drink at your side. Ice chinks softly as you lift your glass…

OK, like me you’re probably settled on an armchair indoors, but this is summer, isn’t it? We can use our imaginations!

Who ever said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?

I’m very excited to share the news that No Exit Press are reissuing the entire Geraldine Steel series with new and matching covers. I love these new covers, and hope you do too.

Getting to know Lee Child

Lee needs no introduction as the creator of Jack Reacher, but what is Lee Child really like? Since he’s an old friend, he stopped by for a chat!

Hi Lee! So, if you hadn’t become a writer, what would you like to have done?

In my dreams, I would have liked to be a musician – probably a bass guitarist. Or a late-developing holding midfielder for Aston Villa, or center fielder for the New York Yankees. But taking talent and practicality into account … I’m not sure there’s anything else I could have done.

Which of your many achievements are you most proud of? And what do you regret the most in your life?

I’m most proud of my daughter. She seems to have dodged the genetic bullet and come out a sweet and lovely human being. I regret a couple of occasions when I didn’t have the moral courage to fight the good fight.

You do a lot of travelling associated with your writing. When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?

By not traveling, except locally, to bars or clubs for music. But mostly I love to read.

By any objective standards you are a phenomenal success as an author, which must have significantly affected your lifestyle. Has this experience changed you as a person?

If authors become successful, it usually happens late enough in life that their personalities, tastes and habits are set, so I really haven’t changed much. But I recognize that the faint uneasiness about money has disappeared – I no longer have that subliminal fear of what bill the postman might bring today.

If you met Jack Reacher, what would you say to him, assuming he “said nothing” first?

I’d say, hey, man, take care of yourself, OK? I need you for a few more years.

A writer’s life…

I’ve been so busy for the past few months that I only have space to mention a few highlights here. March found us at the seaside where I was on a panel at Deal Noir with Sarah Ward, SJ Holliday, Guy Fraser-Sampson and Craig Sisterson, talking to a packed hall about series characters.

In April we spent a weekend in Edinburgh at the Crime Writers Association conference. It’s always a pleasure to catch up with friends like Martin Edwards and Linda Stratmann, and you can’t go to Edinburgh without catching up with local fellow authors like Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith.

CrimeFest in May found me on a panel with Paul Finch, Helen Fields, James Carol and Mark Roberts. Once again the hall was packed as we talked about serial killers, and signed books for our fans.

Other highlights were tea with author Luke McCallin from Geneva (right) and dinner with multi-award winning Bill Beverley, over from the US (below). (He’s not about to kiss me – he’s trying to see what I’m writing for him in my book!)

In June I was invited to appear at Gerrards Cross Festival to sign my books, which was fun. I also attended a conference on human taphonomy facilities (body farms) which I’d say was fascinating, rather than fun!

More recently, this month saw us at Theakstons Crime Festival in Harrogate which is always enjoyable. We met up with hundreds of friends – fellow authors, reviewers, bloggers and readers – and went out for a fabulous dinner with my publisher.

In addition to those events, I’ve been giving crime writing master classes and author talks, and done book signings, as well as keeping busy as a member of the CWA Committee, and chair of the Debut Dagger Award judges. It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to support emerging new talent through the work I do for the CWA.

So all in all, it’s been a hectic few months!

Thank you for taking a look at my very first newsletter. I do hope you enjoyed it, and continue reading my news and interviews in the future. Don’t forget to find me on Twitter and Facebook, and you can contact me via my website if you have any questions.

With best wishes,

Leigh Russell

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