D.L. Russell Turns Love for Dark Horror Into Platform for Speculative Fiction Writers

D.L. Russell

by Deb Osorio

Millennials do not know life without the Internet, or cell phones, or any of the technologies that were once solely found in comic books and the speculative fiction (SF) section of the bookstore. Over the past several years, SF has grown from the dusty corner at the back of the bookstore to the front shelves and The New York Times bestseller lists. This growth is opening doors for writers to broaden their horizons and share their visions of horror, science fiction and fantasy with a growing audience—new worlds and new opportunities for writers who are drawn to that certain ‘something different.’

I had the pleasure of interviewing David ‘D.L.’ Russell about his plans both as a writer and a publisher for 2017. As the co-founder of Black Books Publishing, Inc., D.L. has taken his love for dark horror and provided a platform for like minded writers.

What is in the works for Black Books Publishing in 2017?
We are currently working on three titles for 2017 but remain open to novel submissions.

As an editor/publisher, what are you looking for in the manuscripts that cross your desk?
Most important is a good story. The editing process can improve a story, but first impressions are important. If the story does not capture my attention and entertain me from page one, it will not make the cut. That said, Black Books Publishing can and will take the time to work with an open-minded writer to take their story to the next level. Their success is our success.

What are the common traps for aspiring writers?
Commonly, aspiring writers need to be open to constructive criticism. As far as style and technique, word flow is very important. Redundancies and repetition can kill an otherwise good story.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Reading submissions and seeing the issues other writers encountered has helped me look at my own work a little closer.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self not to read so many ‘how-to’ books. I became so wrapped up in the ‘rules’ of writing, I lost the ability to just let the words flow and worry about the editing after I was done. We’re talking over twenty years ago now, and I still feel I lost some great ideas just by over-thinking the ‘rules.’

What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
I don’t feel magazines or websites are as important as reading material by other writers. This allows a writer to see what’s being sold and what’s being done to death. More importantly, use your own creativity. We all have our own unique experiences and they affect how we see the worlds we create in our writing.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching/planning before writing?
I try to draw on life experience as much as possible. I am naturally a curious person, and even the smallest snippet of information can end up in a story. This is what it means to write what you know. Back in the early 90s I came across a tidbit of information on chickens and the poultry processing industry. I mentally filed this away and, years later, while writing my horror collection “Hell Is An Awfully Big City,” this tidbit of information played a crucial role in the plot for my novelette, “That Ain’t No Chicken.”

Sometimes it is just that simple. Research has its place, but writers should try to write what they know as much as possible.

How many unpublished and half-finished stories/books do you have?
Dozens. No one gets everything they write published. Some are stories I started and realized I’d seen the idea before. Others are stuck at a certain point, and some I simply realized were below the standard I wanted to set for myself.

What does literary success look like to you?
Everyone would like that million seller, made into a blockbuster movie. Still, even selling 10,000 copies of your work, and having readers returning to your website consistently because they enjoy your work, would be just as much a success in my opinion.

D.L. Russell is creating a home for the writers who dance in the dark to the beat of a different drummer. Stop by his home on the web at http://www.blackbookspublishing.com.

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Deb Osorio is a native New Yorker who decided to chase warmer temps and move to Florida. Freelance writer, urban fantasy novelist and lover of all things speculative fiction, she enjoys exploring new worlds and adventures.  She can be reached at deb@writeallthewords.com and on Twitter.


Are you an emerging science fiction or fantasy writer?

Check out ArmadilloCON‘s workshop being held in Austin, Texas, on August 4, 2017.

ArmadilloCon Writers’ Workshop is actively seeking participation from a diverse audience. Interested writers of color who wish to apply for a free registration must do so by June 11. Details 


Spotlight on Dr. Anita Heiss

BWRC shines the spotlight on four-time workshop facilitator, Dr. Anita Heiss. Dr. Heiss will be presenting Writing Faction at the 2012 Black Writers Reunion & Conference in Fort Lauderdale. Her workshop is designed for those who want to understand both the benefits of weaving real life stories and characters into their novels, using an ethical and creative approach while protecting themselves legally.
Continue reading “Spotlight on Dr. Anita Heiss”


Spotlight on Dr. Linda Beed

BWRC shines the spotlight on dual workshop facilitator, Dr. Linda Beed. Dr. Beed will be presenting Investment Writing and M.A.D. Writing (Making a Difference With Your Writing) at the 2012 Black Writers Reunion & Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

What would you like attendees to know about you, your background, strengths, or interests that are not included in your bio?
What I’d like people to know about me is that I care enough to reach out to others. As an independent publisher I learned fast that there is strength in support and shared knowledge. I have a passion for the written, spoken and performing arts. Embracing creative ways to take the word to the masses, I believe is the responsibility of those entrusted with the gift.

How did you get started writing/publishing/etc.?
I’ve always written, but my first step toward publication came after I entered a short story contest. My decision to independently publish came after I saw what publishers wanted to turn my story into.

Who is one author that you look up to and why?
Maya Angelou tops my list of many. She does because at the crossroads of my life, her undiluted words reached out, embraced and encouraged me.

How did you master the topics you’ll be presenting at BWRC?
‘Investment Writer and Writing M.A.D.’ came from listening to the readers. We all know that there’s not a story written that hasn’t been told. That being the case, it becomes the responsibility of the writer to take that familiar tale and make it uniquely their own. Similarly, one must ask themselves if their writing is making a difference in the lives of their readers. If not, why?

If you were to describe your upcoming session/presentation in one word, what would it be?

Who is your session particularly suited for, i.e., what interests, experience, skill level should they have to benefit most from your session?
My sessions are geared toward the beginning and intermediate writer. Their most beneficial skill will be their desire to succeed.

At what other writers’ conferences have you presented a session?
I’ve previously presented at the Faith Based Arts Conference, Romantic Times, Romance Slam Jam and The Write Plan workshops.

What advice would you give to someone who has never attended a writers’ conference?
Take the time to acknowledge your needs and your wants. From the course catalog select a balance of courses that will meet both needs. I also suggest that attendees come with an expectation of learning, sharing and connecting with literary professionals who have their best interest in mind. And of course, plan to have fun.

If 2012 will not be your first, what was your first experience with BWRC?
My first experience with the BWRC elevated my expectations in what a writer’s conference can be.

What keeps you coming back to BWRC?
I return to the BWRC because of its continuing education value for beginning and seasoned authors.

What do you believe separates BWRC from other writers’ conferences?
In my opinion what separates the BWRC from other conferences is its focus upon the needs of the attendees rather than that of featured speakers.
Dr. Linda Beed
What are some of the projects you have in the works? Are there any in particular you’d like us to look out for in the near future?
This year I have completed two new projects; the first being the upcoming release of my novel, Through the Fire from On Assignment Publications. The second is my one-woman monologue, Tell Them, which is being adapted into a one act stage play. Tell Them depicts the last day of Denise McNair, the youngest victim of the 1963 Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, the mother left to preserve her legacy, and extends a message of hope to others. My ongoing project is The Write Plan. This series of workshops is geared toward teaching the business side of the industry.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
The best piece of advice any author can receive is that they take the time to learn the business side of the industry.

What is something you wish someone would have told you about being an author/publisher/playwright/poet/producer/etc.?
This may sound odd, but I wish someone would have told me that not following industry spin and trends will not make you a failure.

Website address: www.lindabeed.com and thewriteplan.net

Blog address and/or Facebook, Twitter, etc:
Twitter @lindabeed