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

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 


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