Fun Facts about the author that likes to hide.
Hi Chris. Sorry this took so long; thank you for giving me this opportunity to introduce myself to your readers!
I’m Lyz Russo, a South African writer and musician. A few years back my life was a lot more interesting than it is now; I was homeschooling my three offspring, we were having a mountain of fun. Now, sadly, they all are off to school for the past five years. I find it hard to grasp that after homeschooling for five years, this is already five years in the past.
Actually the writer in me is having a serious battle swimming to the top at the moment. Current w-i-p: I’m trying to fix an essential part in a bridging sequel. A novel is like a ride on a rubber boat, down a river. Ideally you want it exciting; lots of white water and rapids, many moments of holding your breath in fear. Sometimes a heart-rendingly beautiful magical place is due, where you can clap your hands together like Mr Mole and exclaim, “oh my! Oh my! Oh my!” But the whole trip can’t be like that. The ‘my’s run out and yawning cramps set in. And the last thing you want is a moderate, predictable ride down a smooth river, “steady as the beating drum”, where you can see every last plot-line lying around the next river bend.
And that’s where that sequel is. I need to look at the big picture, probably cut twenty scenes or change the POV to create those essential cliff-hangers again.
Apart from writing and teaching violin, I also run a small publisher. This was me being too impatient and possessive to wait for a large publishing house to even sniff at my story (alright, I did give DAW an opportunity once of ‘losing’ a manuscript); I was excited about the actual process of publishing and wanted to see it myself, step by step. And if I was going to do this for myself, it was only logical to take others along.
What a journey of discovery that has been! The most interesting parts are bringing the graphic designer’s ideas across to the printers in such a way that they don’t get printed far too dark. The most tedious parts are all the paperwork – ISBNs, invoices, statements, organizing copies here and shunting them there. Launches are great fun, nearly as much fun as our studio concerts (you’ve got it, I love special events). It is interesting working with different personalities of authors; sometimes nigh impossible matching a cover graphic to a book in a way that the author likes. After a whole number of such experiences I’ve come to the conclusion that while we all call the colour of the sky ‘blue’, not two of us actually do perceive it the same way. Physics, wavelengths of light and the biology of our retinas all tell me I’m wrong; but this is about how the brain interprets blue, and if even graphic designers and printers can’t agree, what about the rest of us?
And precisely because of this, if I manage to use a few choice paragraphs to paint a scene in such a way that a reader ‘sees’ it the same way I do, I count this a major success.
How does it feel to be a writer and at the same time publish others? Mainly, fantastic. There’s little that compares to doing a successful book launch for an author and sharing in their celebration and success, standing by smiling and feeling rather smug as they put their autograph into their opus. I imagine our editor must feel the same whenever someone raves about one of the novels he has either written himself or edited for one of us. I have an amazing team without whom I wouldn’t even last a day.
But as a writer, and a musician, the most important mission is to reach into the reader’s (or listener’s) soul and push all the buttons. If I haven’t managed this, my story – or my performance – was worthless. This is why I go back and edit, rework, rewrite, hammer and forge until the book is in a shape that I can find myself approving of. It takes a lot longer than throwing an immature manuscript open for the public to read, but the non-cringe effect is fully worth the time and pain.
Ten thousand practice hours to make a professional violinist. How many to make a compelling book?
I should do as a friend of mine does and end with “hope this meets with your approval”. *grin*
Thanks for listening!
Links to the books:
The Solar Wind series is available (by now, up to the fourth sequel) on P’kaboo Publishers, Amazon and a few other places.
That page includes all my books that are available on Amazon, except “Arcana”,
the story of an accidental witch, published under my blogname “gipsika”.