posted on September 11, 2013 by Sheldon Russell


hanging of samuel ash (1)It isn’t often a writer has two books coming out within three weeks of each other, but that’s how it happened for me this time around.  It’s exciting of course.  What writer wouldn’t be thrilled to have his babies born as twins.  But it has also been strangely eerie.  Though born only weeks apart, my  characters lived in different centuries and had disparate social and moral dilemmas.

In THE HANGING OF SAMUEL ASH, Hook Runyon is a one-armed railroad bull who drinks busthead liquor, lives in a caboose, and collects rare books.  He’s discovered a war hero hanging from a wig wag signal, and he’s determined to get him home for proper burial.  Turns out not to be as easy as you might think.

In contrast, THE DIG: IN SEARCH OF CORONADO’S TREASURE is the tale of Coronado’s quest for Quivira, the seven cities of gold, and quite a tale it is, but it’s also the story of a contemporary archeologist who is exploring a mystery that has been unresolved for over five centuries.

The-Dig-large-coverSo you can see that in writing these books I made mental excursions not normally required of stable people.  But I did so willingly for the work, and in the end I came to love these characters.  I know their strengths, their weaknesses, and their deepest desires.  I immersed my life completely into their lives, but that is good.  It’s what a writer should do.

Okay, so sometimes I lost track a little of what was real and what was imagined.  But as a writer I had to make my characters believable, didn’t I?  It was my job.

Yes, I know there are few cynics out there who would say this is the classic definition of serious mental illness, but that’s definitely not the case here.  Perhaps slightly off center but mentally deranged?   Not in five-hundred years.

Sheldon Russell

Sheldon Russell

Dr. Russell published his first novel, Empire, in 1993 with Evans Publications, Inc. He followed that suspense novel with two historic frontier titles—The Savage Trail (Pinnacle Books, 1993) and Requiem at Dawn (Pinnacle Books, 2000). Requiem at Dawn was a finalist for Best Original Paperback in the 2001 Western Writers of America, Inc., Spur Awards competition.

In 2006, the University of Oklahoma Press released Dreams to Dust: A Tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush, which was selected as an Official Oklahoma Centennial Project. It won both the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction and the Langum Prize for Historical Literature. With The Yard Dog: A Mystery (Minotaur Books, September 2009), Russell introduces the Hook Runyon series. The first book finds Hook investigating a murder at an Oklahoma railroad yard near a German POW camp during WWII. The Insane Train, second in the series, was selected as one of the six best mysteries of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.

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