Happy Friday, noir fans! Today we’re welcoming back another author from the Monster Mayhem Anthology. Ernest Russell is partnering with artist Andrew Spalding on Three Billy Goats Gruff. Enjoy learning more about him and his craft in the interview below!
Tell our readers a little about your artistic background.
Writing has been an enjoyable pastime for as long as I can remember. Some of the earliest stories I can recall were mysteries a la The Hardy Boys. Just the taste of those early creative writing projects and experimenting on my own with Poetry, Nonfiction, fan fiction, science fiction, pulp and fantasy and I was hooked. Addicted even, because writing is not something you do for the money. It is because there are worlds and people within just bursting to get out. They say you are what you eat; a writer is what they read. Reading anything, articles, essays, short stories, and novels are what feed a writers imagination. Does not matter what subject or genre, just read. I am coming into being published late in life. It is something I always wanted to do but was afraid. Rejection is not so bad, life does go on and because of rejections I have learned a lot about the differences between writing for my own pleasure and for the pleasure of others. Follow your dreams; you never know what might happen.
What inspired you to join the OUAM Anthology project?
I had a lot of fun with my first project with this group of talented artists and writers. Fun was definitely first. Pulps and Noir genres have always been a fun read for me. I am thinking Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, so many possibilities and was offered Billy Goats Gruff. Wow, a very straightforward tale with very few variants. It was so simple and opened ended that it became a challenge. Fun and a Challenge, could not have been more hooked if I were a bass hitting a fly. After meeting my collaborator artist, Andrew Spalding, the excitement became palpable. Been great bouncing ideas with Andrew and am stoked to see what he comes up with for the story. You will be too.
What makes you excited about transforming your fairytale into a noir mystery?
Can I just say see above? (No, you must have an answer.) It is the challenge and the world building. Short stories are a snapshot of a character(s) life; bringing someone into my world and making them want to see more of it. Noir as a genre is often thought of as hardboiled detective novels. And they often are, but Noir is also more than that, it is the regular Joe who has hit hard times, maybe had a bad break, made a bad decision. Now they have to deal with consequences. Might be moral twisting and cynical, chances are you may not like the main characters. For me, taking a tale as well known as Billy Goats Gruff and twist it to fit this genre? Yes, this excites me.
What about the project do you think will be most challenging?
Keeping it the required length! I always, always overrun my first drafts. The challenge after that is trimming the story while maintaining essential elements. The first major hurdle for any story has already been overcome. Have an angle, characterizations, and rough outline. It has been a lot of fun passing ideas back and forth with my artist/collaborator/partner Andrew Spalding. I have a good start, in spite of packing for a move, and looking forward to 1st draft later this month.
Tell us some of your favorite artists or authors.
Hmmm, how much room do we have for this? Seriously, favorites of mine run the gamut. For some reason my third grade teacher thought it was time we were introduced to Edgar Allen Poe. We read 2 stories by him, ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ and ‘The Tell Tale Heart’. Majority of the class was put off and a bit scared by these stories. I giggled. This REALLY bothered the teacher and so I was sent to the office. Still love Poe. Lovecraft, and Barker, are among my favorites. The fun and fantasy Jim Butcher infuses his worlds. Many modern current authors I enjoy are Alexander Brown, Kimberly Richardson, Jen Mulvihill, Jim Beard, Frank Adams. All good authors and have some really good reads.
Artists, well, once again there are many. One really stands out; her art has been inspiration in my life as has she. I have had the pleasure of following the career of Marrus for close to 30 years now. Search her under Marrus Art and look for her book.
Where can we find your work online? Website, Instagram, published work?
Admittedly, I do not have the online presence I should. You can see my work online in Violet Windows – the Journal of the Eccentric. Check out some of the other cool talent while you are there.
In print, you can find me in Monster Mayhem Anthology available through Lulu Press.
Keep an eye for me in upcoming anthologies with Pro Se Productions.