Thursday, 21 March 2013

Interview: Yvette Russell

You can find Yvette on twitter @YvetteRussell, wattpad (here), Facebook (here) and on her blog (here).

Me: Tell us a little about yourself.
Yvette: Well, to start, my name isn't actually Yvette Russell; that's a pen name. I'm not hiding my name for nefarious purposes, or because I'm ashamed of my writing or something. My answer is really quite silly... I didn't want my novels popping up in Google search results for my name, because I work as a web designer. It's as simple as that!

I'm not going to tell you what it is though, just to be cheeky, but it can be very easily found. See if you can guess!

Other than that... I'm just a web designer and illustrator living in Vancouver, Canada, though I'm originally from the prairies. I have a cat, named Daphne, who gets fussy when I'm writing and tries to sit on my keyboard (I blame all my typos on her). I love books, comics, loose-leaf tea, and thunder storms.

Me: You've participated in NaNoWriMo multiple times. What is it about the experience that keeps pulling you back?
Yvette: NaNoWriMo got me to write my first novel—At Death's Door—so I feel like its a good process for me. It's a deadline, and it's hectic, and it forces me to stop worrying about finding the perfect wording and just write. I like the craziness, and the rush.

Me: What is it that inspires you to write and design?
Yvette: Stories! I like to tell stories. It's more obvious that writing is about stories, but design is too, in a way. It's about communicating a concept, a message, a process. You're reaching out to someone—a reader or a user—and trying to actively communicate something specific.

Me: Where do you hope your writing will take you?
Yvette: It doesn't need to take me anywhere, I'm pretty happy where I am! If you told me two years ago, when I first signed up to Wattpad, that soon I'd have over 3000 fans and a million reads, I would've laughed at you! Such a thing seems crazy to me, even now. I have people who read what I write, and somehow like it... it's still unfathomable to me.

But writing is kind of my "unknown" pursuit; I pursue it just because I love it, not because I have plans for it to go anywhere. I'm not lurking, waiting for any of my books to become the next 50 Shades of Grey. But one of my goals for this year is to make new hard copies of my books (mostly from the design-nerd POV of getting to set type and make covers). Though I do intend to start selling them, just out of curiosity, to see if people will actually buy them!

Me: Are you planning on releasing anything new in the year ahead?
Yvette: Yes! Time allowing, I have a new idea for a novel that I really want to start writing... it's my first non-paranormal story. Plus, I have my latest NaNoWriMo winner, though it needs a good edit.

Me:  Is there anything you especially love/hate about the story sharing site Wattpad?
Yvette: I love the community, how eager and excitable it is. I often feel sad that I can't participate more (so busy!) but I love reading comments and reading other's works and to see how passionate and welcoming it is.

For things I hate... I don't really hate anything. You can't, when you know the Wattpad team is working so hard. I just wish that there were better analytics for authors. So I could see where people came from to find my stories, how many reads, votes and comments I get each day, etc. But that's a tall order, I know, just from a programming viewpoint! But the nerdy web girl in me wants to have all the data.

Me: How do you balance writing with web designing and illustrating?
Yvette: Writing is my "after hours" thing, something that's completely different from what I do during the day. It's what I use to unwind my brain, and get it off the web/illustration track, to get it to relax.

For a while, it was hard for me because I really love the work I do. I love building things for the web, and I love drawing and painting. But even if you love something, if you do the same thing all day, ever day, it can burn you out. And it did; I got really stressed a few months back. Some of my fans may remember when I kind disappeared... that's what happened. But I realized that it was because I wasn't making time for relaxation, and my writing. So when I returned to writing, and it helped immensely.

Me: Any advice for fellow writers?
Yvette: Just write. Just do it. Don't put it off, or say 'one day'... if you even have a shadow of an idea for a story, or a book, just do it. Stop worrying and write! (This is the constant refrain in my head).

Me: Any advice for people who want to pursue web designing or illustrating?
Yvette: Never stop learning, and play. To learn how to design for the web or how to paint/draw isn't just a one stop course that you can take and then be an expert in. You have to keep expanding. The best illustrators and web designers are the ones who just play with concepts, or new techniques, just to see how they work... And there's always something new to learn.

Quick-fire questions:

Me: Fast food or a home-cooked meal?
Yvette: Home cooked meal
Me: Outdoors or indoors?
Yvette: Both, especially in Vancouver.
Me: Coffee or tea?
Yvette: TEA! Mmm...
Me: Vampire or Werewolf?
Yvette: A toughie! And even though I have written a vampire story, I think I might go with werewolf...

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