Name J.C. Russo
The age of security and confidence. 😀
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Pennsylvania, but I spent half my life living in North Carolina.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I went to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where I majored in English and minored in psychology. I now live in New Jersey with my partner, my three daughters, my partner’s son, and our dog, Oatmeal (Otis for short). We have a full house. All of our children are musicians, and they are all awesome kids.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am getting ready to publish my second novel. My first novel, Dancing with Ghosts, was recently published. It’s a lesbian coming of age novel, and it has received some really incredible reviews. The e-mails and messages I’ve received from my readers have also been amazing. My second novel, Little Yellow House, will be released very soon. It is a bit different in that it is a lesbian crime/mystery novel.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I don’t ever remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing. From the time I was a tiny child, I was always writing something. I used to be into poetry, but not anymore. Now it’s all about novels and short stories. When I was very young, my first story was called The Red Balloons. I don’t remember much about the story, but my sister was a character, and I do remember she was very upset with me. So it probably wasn’t very good.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer. Always. But only recently have I begun to consider myself an author.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Various circumstances and situations in my life came together to inspire the story. However, the book is fiction. The characters are fiction. Despite this, the story is and will always be very, very close to my heart. No matter how many novels I write in the future, I will always consider Dancing with Ghosts my flagship novel.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to write in first person. I like the deep connection I feel with my protagonist when I write in this style. I feel almost as if I fall in love with that character, and I love to get to know her on a personal level, living and breathing her until the book is published.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I came up with the title Dancing with Ghosts as I was writing a scene in which the protagonist is remembering her dad and how he would lift her on his shoulders to see the snow falling outside the windows. Trucks would drive down the road, the tires blowing up big puffs of snow that remind her of ghosts dancing in a mystical ballroom. The loneliness she feels growing up causes her to imagine dancing with these ghosts. The ghosts stay with her throughout her life, so she is never alone.
I came up with the title Little Yellow House because my protagonist loves her cozy little house. The house represents a dichotomy between the life she wants, cozy and happy (in the little house), and the life she gets (chaotic and stressful) in jail.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I am a writer of lesbian fiction, and a champion for lesbians to live true to themselves. Don’t let others decide what or who you should be. Be yourself.
The novels I write will always contain at least a bit of this philosophy. I want my writing to touch my readers, deep down in their souls, in a place they may have previously thought was untouchable. I want to equip them to hold their heads up high and be proud of who they are.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Both novels are realistic novels. They aren’t science fiction or fantasy. They are fiction, but they are very human and realistic. A reader posted a review on Goodreads that states that she felt like she was reading non-fiction. The reader stated that it “felt like reading a life lived rather than a story told.” I couldn’t say it better myself.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have to stick with the disclaimer that “This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are being used fictitiously. Any resemblance to events, places, or actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.” 😀
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The book “Sunshine” by Norma Klein. I’ve read this book numerous times over the years, and it’s always touched me in a very emotional way. I want my writing to touch others in the same way.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I recently completed The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I love all of her works. I won’t start reading another book until Little Yellow House is published.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not at this time, but I need to catch up. When I am writing a novel, it consumes me, leaving me little time for reading.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
After Little Yellow House is published, I have plans for a 7-book series. The plans are still in my head, safely locked away.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I had an English professor in college who thought very highly of my writing. Her opinion has always meant the world to me. She reignited my passion for writing at a time when I was feeling discouraged. I will never forget her.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I definitely do. It’s my dream.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My beta readers are hard at work on the final proof. I’ll see what they come back with and then make the appropriate changes. At this time, I’m sure there are a couple typos at least, along with some character development. They are a talented group of individuals, and I trust them completely.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
No, I don’t. But I do know that every single time I’m writing, I feel sucked into it mind and soul. And I love that feeling. And as long as my hands can move and my eyes can see, I will never give it up.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m happy to share the back copy with you:
“What would you give up to escape a horrifying situation? Your home? Your kids? Your freedom? Would you murder someone as a means of escape? What if it was the only way? In Little Yellow House, a lesbian crime novel, Kelly Jansen has a decision to make.
Why every woman in the world isn’t a lesbian is beyond me. My name is Kelly. I was rather young when I realized I liked girls, and I never wavered. When I was 16, I had the best girlfriend in the world. Nicky was amazing in more ways than one. Life was good.
But then I made a series of bad decisions. The time Nicky and I got caught in bed together under my father’s roof marked the beginning of my downward spiral. And the end? That would be the time I went to jail for murdering my girlfriend.
I always dreamed of being a happy-go-lucky lesbian with a great girl and a carefree life. Instead, my husband was abusive, my children were missing, and I got caught up in a web of deception and murder.
I don’t know how things went so wrong so fast. All I know is that I desperately miss Nicky, and I want her back.
I want the life I dreamed about. But maybe it’s too late.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The hardest thing for me is finding the time to write. I need more time. I wish I had more time. Someday, maybe. For now, I do the best I can.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have two favorite authors, Sarah Waters and Nicholas Sparks. I love Sarah Waters’ lesbian fiction novels. She is an incredibly gifted writer. As for Nicholas Sparks, I especially love his early works. He writes tragic love stories, which are highly emotional; the surge of emotion I feel when I read his novels appeals to me greatly.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not so far, but I have plans for a couple different projects in the future.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed the covers for Dancing with Ghosts, utilizing Kindle’s and CreateSpace’s cover creators. But I am having a professional design the cover for Little Yellow House. It is in production as I type.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing both novels, besides finding adequate uninterrupted time, was that both of my novels are very emotional. I get sucked in. I hope my readers do, too, because it’s a great feeling. The subject matter isn’t at all easy to write, but I think that is why my readers find it so dynamic to read.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I’m a tougher person than I ever gave myself credit for. It takes a lot of patience and stamina to write a novel. I’m very proud of myself.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes. Never stop writing. Write all the time. Write as much as you can, as often as you can. And let yourself get sucked in.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Keep the messages and e-mails coming!! I love your kind words and compliments, and I especially love hearing about how my story touched your heart and changed your life. Every time I open a new email or read a new review, I get tears in my eyes. My fans are the best.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I do remember. It was a Little Golden Book called The Poky Little Puppy. Wow. That was a great read. I read that book over and over again. Simply genius.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh a lot, and I love to make others laugh. People usually don’t know when to take me seriously. I just love happiness. However, lots of things make me cry, like those videos on Facebook when a parent comes home from the military and surprises their child. Or old sit coms. I’ve been known to cry during Full House or even Roseanne. Or the Little League World Series. I don’t even know those boys, but I’m so proud of them, I get all misty eyed. I’m a wreck.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I wouldn’t at all mind making Debra Messing’s acquaintance. 😉 She is absolutely beautiful, and she seems like she would have a very kind and nurturing personality. And she has a great smile.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“Here is a girl who was once too afraid to be herself, and then she wasn’t.” I feel so sad for all the years I wasted being afraid to say, “Here I am! Love me, or don’t! It’s your choice, and I don’t care which you choose!” But then the day came when I was finally able to throw off the shackles and learn how stop hiding and be myself, and I’ve never been happier.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love to read; I love photography; I love music; and I love to watch movies. But I love writing more than all of those added together.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I like Bates Motel and The Fosters. I loved the show Smash, and I wish it lasted longer than it did. I love football, so I watch that as much as I can during the season. I like the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods: Anything Italian or Mexican
Colors: Brown and red; or pretty much any earth tones
Music: I love 80’s music. 😀
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I used to be a professional photographer. I photographed weddings and special events. I enjoyed that tremendously. It was a great experience. I would do it again, if I weren’t so obsessed with writing.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so, what is it?
Amazon Author Central page: www.amazon.com/author/jcrusso
Dancing with Ghosts: www.amazon.com/dp/B013GVCFSE