Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Author Interview: R.H.Russell on her Venture series

When I read the first book in the series, Venture Untamed, I was left speechless. I was so impressed, I couldn't wait to read the other two, so I contacted the author right away and voila! I now know the full story of Venture. 

I'm ridiculously happy to introduce you to author R.H.Russell, who was awesome answering a couple of questions to indulge me and my readers! Enjoy, y'all! It's a treat!

Me:  Hello Ms. Russell! I'm so happy to have you here!
Ms. Russell: Thanks for having me on your blog!
Me: Why do your books focus on fighting? What does it mean to you personally?
Ms. Russell: I’ve been involved in combat sports since I was a teen, and my experience with fighters of all sorts fueled this story. The world of fighters is truly fascinating, and I wanted to share it with readers in a unique way—a way anyone could identify with, because I truly believe there’s a fighter in all of us.
Me: Is any of your characters based on a real person that you know (of)?
Ms. Russell: No, there isn’t a specific character who’s based on a real person.
Me: The first book, Venture Untamed, covers the story of pre-teen and early teen Venture. He's an angsty boy with a need for an outlet to his emotions. How did he come to existence?
Ms. Russell: I think there are a lot of boys out there who just want to move and are sick of having to sit still. I work with them all the time as a judo coach. And I’ve seen that beautiful moment, when they’re on the mat and things just click, and they discover something they love—they realize they actually like to work hard at it. They become dedicated and focused.
Me: The names of most characters are meaningful. Like Venture, Jade, Grant, Felicity, Dasher, Earnest, Able and so on. Then there are names that mean nothing, like Will, Nick and a bunch of others. Is there a reason you made it so? Do character names somehow relate to the character traits?
Ms. Russell: The names don’t necessarily relate to the character’s traits, but they do all have meaning. Names we’re more familiar with, like Richard and Daniel, have meanings. Most names do. And they also have a history. I wanted to avoid names that had such historical ties to our world, since the Venture books take place in a different world. So even the name Connie is short for Constance, a name that could exist in any language, in any world.
Me: What is the background story of Richland? Why is Venture so despised for being a bonded servant?
Ms. Russell: The bias against bondsmen is based on history and generalizations, which set Venture apart even from the other hired servants in the Fieldstone household. Bonded servitude in Richland originated hundreds of years before, as a solution for the vanquished enemies of early Richlanders, a way to keep them from destroying the civilization they’d had the foolishness to attack, while sparing them being put to the sword. Many bonded servants, especially those of Crested households, are the latest in a long line, dating back to these ancient villains. Many of the others are unwanted, often illegitimate children, the throwaways of society.
Venture is the son of two former bonded servants who worked hard for their freedom. After his father died, his mother signed herself and Venture into bonded service. It was the only way she knew that he would be provided for.
Me: Does Venture mean something more to you than just a character in a book?
Ms. Russell: During the years I spent writing and revising material for this series and pursuing publication, there was some serious upheaval going on in my life. Though it was fun to write about Venture, it was also hard sometimes, to write about a character who was struggling at the same time I was dealing with real-life grief. But I began to feel like this made-up character was showing me some very real truths as he dealt with loss, failure, and frustration of his own. It was satisfying to see him through it, and I think writing these books was an important part of how I dealt with those difficult times.
Me: If you could cast a movie based off your books, who would you choose to act Venture, Jade, Dasher, Earnest and Grant?
Ms. Russell: Oh, I don’t think I could imagine any actors playing my characters. They’re already such real people in my head!

Thank you so much for the time you put into answering my questions! I wish you all the best with your future books!

About the author:

R.H. Russell has been on the mat with talented young fighters since 1993. Their ambitions, struggles, and triumphs inspired her to write the Venture books. She hopes to share the fascinating world of fighters with readers in a unique way—a way anyone can identify with, because she truly believes there’s a fighter in all of us.

She's having a great time letting Venture and his friends loose to play on the page, writing about brawls and big dreams, betrayal and camaraderie, and of course, Venture and Jade’s forbidden love.

The author also writes the Unicorns of the Mist series as R.R. Russell. Wonder Light (Sourcebooks 2013), the first of these novels for young readers, is out now. Look for The Unicorn Thief in 2014!