Viola Russell Talks About Books That Inspire Her by Stacy Hoff

 Hello Passionate readers! Today on Nights of Passion I have author Viola Russell talking about books that inspire her. Welcome, Viola!

Books that Inspired Me, or Why I Wanted to be Jo:

Lately, I’ve seen posts on Facebook asking readers and/or authors to list their favorite books or what book most inspired them. As a writer, I find the two ideas intertwined. My favorite books are often the ones that inspired me for various reasons. Because I write historical fiction, I love reading other authors who work in the same genre. Philippa Gregory’s amazing depiction of the lives of the Tudor family placed me in the British Renaissance with all its intrigue, decadence, and turmoil. I, too, love re-creating past times of adventure, romance, and conspiratorial plotting. My historical novels require a great deal of research; my characters soon become living and breathing people to me, not characters of fiction.

Of course, I also love to write mysteries, and the masters of British suspense, such as Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, etc., gave me a lesson in how to present a puzzle to be solved. I also love modern mystery authors like Elizabeth George, and I devour the Sebastian St. Cyr period mysteries by my friend Candice Proctor, a.k.a C. S. Harris. However, probably the novel that has taught me the most about the psychology of a killer was CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Dostoyevsky. The tale of crime, sin, and redemption set me on fire as a sophomore in high school; I never forgot Raskolnikov, his murderous past, and his path to redemption. His rather murky, unclear motives fascinated me. I only hope I can bring that kind of complexity to my characters.

My biggest inspiration has remained LITTLE WOMEN. My mother encouraged me to read it when I was little, and reading it together has provided me with precious memories of my mother. Even before I majored in Romanticism and understood the Transcendentalist philosophy, I loved the characters. Never having sisters, I enjoyed the relationships among the March girls. More than anything, Jo moved me. Her independence at that that time in history and her determination to follow her dreams sealed my desire to be a writer. She conquered her doubts and defied the social norms that would have held her to the dictates of the status quo. Sadly, I didn’t always follow my dreams; I now wish I could have drowned the sirens of doubt that sang to me. I lingered too long following deceptive goals that only confined me or set me up for failure. Still, I remembered Jo, and I revisited her and her sisters when I taught the book to ninety high school kids. My pen began to burn, and then, personal tragedy (just as in Jo’s case) propelled me to write again. Never will I forget the debt I owe to LITTLE WOMEN and the determined heroine that is Jo.

Bio for Viola Russell:

Viola Russell is the pseudonym for Susan Weaver Eble. A homegrown New Orleanian, she holds a doctorate in English literature from Texas A & M University. She has traveled far and wide and relishes the memories she has made in places as distant as England, Ireland, Canada, and Jamaica and as near as Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, California, and Massachusetts. She lives with her husband Ben, the love of her life, in a New Orleans cottage and is most comfortable at her computer creating the worlds that drift into her imagination.

Website for Viola Russell:







JOCKEYING FOR YOU print version

JOCKEYING FOR YOU Kindle version


DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC print version

DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC kindle version



LAWFULLY YOURS print version

LAWFULLY YOURS Kindle version



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