Q&A with Sheldon Russell, author of A Forgotten Evil
- >How would you describe A Forgotten Evil?
It’s a book about survival and the unlikely love between two people caught up in one of America’s darkest moments.
- Did you do any on-site research for A Forgotten Evil?
Yes. My wife and I visited any number of historic forts in Kansas. I wanted a sense of what the daily life of soldiers was like during that time. Kansas has done a fantastic job of preserving these old forts, and the trip was invaluable. Look for my description of the blacksmith shop, for example.
- Some say that a writer should write for specific readers. Is this something that you do?
Although I’m not a politician, I’d have to say the answer is yes and no. A Forgotten Evil is a period book, so it’s incumbent on me to stay true to the times. There is also a cast of characters who are obliged not to stray too far from their own ages and experiences. But this is true in real life as well, isn’t it? So, if I do my job, most readers can find stories and emotions directly relatable to their own lives.
- What are the hardest scenes for you to write?
Sex scenes. There are only so many ways to describe a simple act that almost always ends the same way. Love scenes are a different matter. They have so many more emotions, ranging from intense jealousy to lifetime sacrifices and commitments.
- What makes an interesting character?
There is no story unless you care what happens to the people within it. While I don’t use anyone I know as a character, I do steal their characteristics without apology. I like my characters a little off-center, determined, and with flaws that have to be overcome. I don’t care if they’re educated or illiterate, but I want them smart in the world in which they function.
- Do you worry about writing about the opposite sex?
I used to. In fact, I avoided it, but what I’ve discovered after doing this a while is that wisdom, courage, and compassion have no gender.
- What characteristic do you most value in a person?
The hardest and most difficult to achieve in writing, or anywhere else, is a sense of humor. I find that it can’t be forced but must come obliquely and in the most unexpected moments. Its power to entertain and persuade cannot be overestimated.
- Do you ever include animals as characters in your books?
Always. Animals have fewer rules in life, can do things that people aren’t allowed, and can bring out tenderness in the most hardened personalities. They offer endless humorous possibilities as well.
- Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A big ego dies somewhere between the first and tenth rejection.
- What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?