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Monday 8 April 2024

Creative Crocks Week: Today Leigh Russell

Welcome to my Blog!
Wander through wonderful worlds
real and fictional,
meet interesting people,
visit exciting places
and find a few good books
to enjoy along the way!

No disrespect to the authors taking part this week - but we're all of 'an advanced age' and several of us have various aches, pains and health issues, but we keep writing and although we might come under the heading 'aging crocks' we've amassed a good bit of writing wisdom and are still very much creative where our author's imagination is concerned.

So, let's meet Leigh, another Creative Crock...


REVENGE KILLING is the new title in my Geraldine Steel series, published at the end of March 2024. For those of you who don’t yet know my detective, these are police procedural murder mysteries. 

In REVENGE KILLING a man is found dead, lying at the bottom of the stairs to his flat. It soon becomes clear that this was no accident. The dead man’s worried landlord seeks advice from his friend's wife, Detective Inspector Ariadne Moralis, who suspects he is not telling her the truth. With only a muddled elderly witness to tell the police what happened, they struggle to identify the killer. When the dead man’s girlfriend disappears, the police need to track her down before the killer finds her, but time is running out for the missing girl… In desperation, Ariadne turns to her former colleague, Geraldine Steel, for advice. But it may already be too late to avert another tragedy.

You can download REVENGE KILLING here:

In addition to writing gritty police procedurals, last year I launched a cosy crime series featuring a small dog, Poppy. The latest title in the Poppy Mystery Tales, POPPY TAKES THE LEAD, was published in January 2024.

In POPPY TAKES THE LEAD, Emily and her little rescue dog Poppy are living happily in the quaint village of Ashton Mead, where every household is friendly – with one exception.

When Silas Strang attacks Poppy, Silas is mysteriously murdered. To Emily's dismay, the police view her as their number one suspect. Assisted by her friends, Hannah and Toby, Emily sets out to establish the truth and clear her name... but her enquiries have frightening consequences. Fortunately, Poppy is there too, but can they expose the real killer in time?

You can download POPPY TAKES THE LEAD here:

Wise words from Leigh Russell

When I wrote the first draft of my debut novel, CUT SHORT, it never occurred to me that anyone else would ever read my story, let alone publish it. Had someone told me then that this manuscript would become the first book in a long running series, I wouldn’t have believed them. Yet here we are, launching the 22nd in my Geraldine Steel series, REVENGE KILLING. Readers sometimes ask me how I’ve managed to maintain my momentum, with reviewers describing my stories as ‘fresh’ and ‘surprising’, even after so long. My secret could be that I still love writing, and perhaps that passion is transmitted to my readers. 

I was fortunate to meet the late great William McIlvanney at the start of my writing career, shortly before he died. Known as ‘The Father of Tartan Noir,’ he described creativity as ‘an inexplicable compulsion,’ and warned against over analysing the creative impulse. ‘You don’t want to theorise it to death,’ he said. Fiction works a kind of magic, creating worlds that are appear initially to the writer but then, more importantly, in the minds of readers. The job of the writer is to give readers enough material for them to enter these worlds through the medium of their own imaginations. This is what I try to do in each of my books and, so far, readers keep following my series. 

1. Do you mind me asking how old you are?
I’m happy to share that I am seventy years old, and proud of my white hairs. 

2. Are you a long-established writer or have you only recently started out?
I started writing in my mid-fifties, so not recently but perhaps relatively late compared to many other writers. 

3. Is the hassle of writing worth the effort these days? 
Before my first story occurred to me, clamouring to be told, I never had any intention of writing. All serious writers know that we write when we have a story to tell. There is no other reason.

There is no doubt in my mind that writing is worth the effort involved. If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t continue. I love the challenge of thinking what to write, relish going through the editing process, and enjoy working with my publishers, who are all fantastic people. I don’t actually do much marketing, and only deal with aspects of social media that interest me - like this fabulous blog. [Helen: modest blush, thank you!]

4. Any advice for older writers getting started or needing a confidence boost?
Something inspiring - I like to spend time supporting writers who are hoping to be published. One piece of advice I like to give is to trust yourself. As an editor, I love helping other writers find their own voices. 

1.What was the first novel you read that made you think: ‘Wow, I want to write like this!’ 
 As a child I was an avid reader and fell in love with fiction. I had many favourite authors, and there was no one book that inspired me to write. 

2. What book would you you pass on to a grandchild?
There are so many books I would like to pass on to my granddaughter. At the moment we are enjoying Peter Rabbit.

3. If you found a genie in a magic lamp what would your three wishes be?
My three wishes would be quite unoriginal: peace throughout the world, universal good health both mental and physical, and linked to those first two wishes, safe and comfortable living conditions for everyone. If only! 

4. If you could have a holiday anywhere in the world (for free!) where would you go?
I would return to The Seychelles, where we spent two weeks while I was researching the location for my novel set on Mahé. It’s a beautiful island.

5. Your favorite time period – and why
I’m not sure that I have a favourite time period. I did find the sixteenth century fascinating when I was researching my historical novel set in Venice during the Renaissance.

6. Name one thing you regret that you didn’t do
I have many regrets, but like to start each day with a positive outlook and move forward from there. It’s good to look back and learn from the past, but there’s no point in dwelling on my many mistakes. 

7. And one thing you don't regret...
I’ve been extremely lucky to find a wonderful publisher for my books. My writing has enabled me and my husband to travel all round the world and meet many wonderful people. 

More About Leigh Russell

Probably no one is as surprised as me to know that I’ve just written the 22nd Geraldine Steel crime novel, and I can hardly believe my series has been so popular for so long! I’m also really enjoying writing my cosy series featuring an adorable puppy, which is attracting some fabulous reviews from readers. 

Shortlisted for two Dagger Awards, I am Chair of Judges for the Debut Dagger Award, and am an Advisory Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund. I also really enjoy supporting other writers and am open to requests for help with writing coaching and editing. You can find links to my social media and my books on my website:   

When I’m not writing, I can be found reading or playing with my granddaughter or with my daughter’s dog, Poppy. 


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Amazon Author Page: 

The Jan Christopher Cosy Mysteries
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If you enjoyed the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie
you'll love the Sea Witch Voyages

Coffee Pot Book Club
Bronze Award2022


The story of the events that led to
The Battle of Hastings in 1066

Harold the King (UK edition)
I Am The Chosen King (US edition)
1066 Turned Upside Down
an anthology of 'What If'' tales
The Forever Queen (US edition)
A Hollow Crown (UK edition)

The Pendragon's Banner Trilogy

 The Boy Who became a Man:
Who became a King:
Who became a Legend... 

Coffee Pot Book Club Bronze Award 2023


US editions

Historical Stories of Exile by 13 popular authors 
Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage, Elizabeth Chadwick, Cathie Dunn, 
J.G. Harlond, Helen Hollick, Loretta Livingstone, Amy Maroney 
Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Elizabeth St.John, 
Marian L Thorpe, Annie Whitehead.
With an introduction by Deborah Swift
Amazon: FREE ebook!


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