Heather Kerry, the main character in “Buried Truths” by Viola Russell

Who are you?

I am Heather Kerry, the main character in “Buried Truths” by Viola Russell. I am a youngish widow who receives a shock when she meets a young woman in a book store.

Where do you live?

I live in New Orleans, and it is shortly after Katrina has devastated the city. Many changes will come about because of the devastation, and I’m at the forefront of those changes as a deputy superintendent of Catholic schools.

What is your problem in the story?

Before Thanksgiving, I was shopping in a local book store when a young woman working behind the counter asked me if I’d had a child and given it up for adoption. She explained that her husband was adopted, and they wanted to find out who his birth parents were because they were contemplating a family. I deny it, but when she says her husband is part Asian, I know he’s the child I gave up over twenty years ago when I was seventeen. Sarah, the young woman, says our eyes are alike–gray. Over twenty years before, family pressure separated me from Wesley Chou, the love of my life. Even though I married, I never forgot Wesley, now Dr. Wesley Chou.

Do you run from conflict?

No, I can’t afford to run from conflict. As a deputy superintendent, I have to stand up to the bishop who wants to close schools. I then have to stand up to people who want to condemn me when my past becomes public knowledge. And lastly–I have to stand strong when my son Ezra’s child is diagnosed with leukemia and I am the donor. I have to face his anger and possible rejection in order to save his child.

How do you see yourself?

I see myself as capable, but my resolve doesn’t come easily. I have self-doubt, but I’ve seen the danger running can cause. Wesley and I should have stood against our parents and kept our child.

How do your friends see you?

My friends and family see me as someone who isn’t strong and who has little resolve. I have to work against type to achieve my career goals, to fight the beast, and show the bishop he’s wrong.

How do your enemies see you?

My enemies see me in two ways: The people who think I oppose them about school closures see me as a bitch. Because I’ve always been a good girl, some people see me as a hypocrite or a whore when they discover my past indiscretion.

What are your achievements?

I have a doctoral degree and I’m at the pinnacle of my career, but it is lonely at the top and even lonelier in my bed until I reunite with Wesley. We, however, will have many ups and downs as we face our past.

Do you have any special weaknesses?

When I was younger, I didn’t stand up to people. That was the weakness that led to my separation from Wesley and my giving up my child. I’ve changed, but how much?

What do you want?

I want a relationship with my son, and I also still want Wesley. Wesley and I must decide if we can look past the hurt of years gone by and form a relationship again. The man can still set me on fire with even the slightest touch. I go wet when I see him, and he makes me shiver with an all-consuming passion when I look into his eyes. He makes me a teenager again–in body at least–but I’m also now mature enough to know much has happened to change us.

What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid of losing my son Ezra again, and I’m afraid of losing Wesley yet again.

What do you regret?

I regret not running away with Wesley when I became pregnant. None of my accomplishments can replace what I lost.

We should have run to the Quarter and become French Quarter mimes.

Who was your first love?

Wesley was my first and only love. Anything I felt for my husband Peter pales compared to what I feel for Wesley.

Why do you think change in your life would be for the best?

My life has been too safe but too empty. I need love, danger, and risk.


http://redrosepublishing.com/books/product_info.php?products_id=1209: Link for Buried Truths.

Harley Michel, Protagonist of “The Doctor and the War Widow” by Viola Russell

Who are you?

I am Harley Michel, a lonely schoolteacher in the vibrant city of New Orleans, and the protagonist in Viola Russell’s THE DOCTOR AND THE WAR WIDOW.

What is your problem in the story?

My life is currently devoid of any real adventure. I teach high school and go home every afternoon to my chocolate lab, Nico. My beloved mother recently died, and my husband John died ten years ago in Iraq. My colleagues, sensing my loneliness, challenged me to enter an online dating site. I was reluctant to do it, and some of the early dates were a disaster. Then, I met an older, handsome Egyptian doctor named Abisi. He also is widowed, and his marriage was marked by unhappiness and loss. Throughout the story, we both must adjust to each other and learn to trust after a great deal of grief.

Do you run from conflict?

I don’t think many people “like” conflict, but romance with Abisi, my new lover, puts me on the path toward conflict with my mother-in-law, some of my family and friends, my school administration, and even a psycho ex-girlfriend of Abisi’s.

How do you see yourself?

I see myself as a more than competent teacher and as a very creative writer, but I’m not a person who trusts easily. I long for adventure and for someone with whom I can restart my life and share adventures.

How do your friends see you?

My friends see my life as sad and lonely. Not all of them know of my secret writing life. No one understands the intensity of my feelings for my late husband or the passion I feel for Abisi, my new lover. None of them would believe I’m a tiger in the sack.

Do you have a hero?

My mother Eden was my hero. She taught me to respect myself and follow my dreams. I do that with my writing. I also know my mother would want me with someone I love and who could share my life with me. She wouldn’t want me to succumb to grief or to wallow in self-pity.

Do you have a goal?

My goal is to be a successful writer and to leave behind the paralyzing conformity of my current life. In many ways my life is good, but I am too locked in my comfort zone right now.

What do you regret?

I regret not having a child with my first husband. We tried but weren’t successful. I also regret that I didn’t follow my heart and pursue my writing much earlier.

Has anyone ever failed you?

In the novel, Abisi fails me on an issue of trust, and I wasn’t sure I could forgive him.

Did you get along with your parents?

I was the adored only child of my parents. My father used to take me riding on his Harley. That is how I acquired my name. My mother and I were best friends. I’m mourning her when the novel begins.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

I secretly write contemporary and historical romances. My colleagues and administrators have no idea I do this. My books are adventure-filled and deal with frank issues of sexuality.

What are the last three books you read?

I’ve recently read TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN by James Lee Burke. I love mysteries set in Louisiana, and Burke is a poet. I also recently re-read Barbara Tuchman’s A DISTANT MIRROR because I want to write a novel in that time period. Lastly, I read Julia Baird’s IMAGINE THIS. It’s a wonderful portrait of growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s and provides a compelling look at John Lennon’s early life.

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

My life is too safe, too ordered. The writing is fulfilling, but I sometimes need someone and something to take me from the safety of my computer. Working at the computer is fine, but need to leave the isolation of the computer–only to return and create a better world when I write.

How do you envision your future?

I hope that life with Abisi will be filled with new experiences, challenges and love.

Where can people find out more about you?


Viola Russell, Author of “The Doctor and the War Widow”

What is your book about?

The Doctor and the War Widow is about Harley Michel, a lonely widow who has also just lost her mother. On a dare, she enters an internet dating site. After some disastrous encounters, she meets a handsome foreign doctor, but their past entanglements and hangups threaten their happiness. Harley still grieves for her husband, killed in Iraq. Abisi, the doctor, is also widowed, but he was once involved with a woman who still harbors feelings for him. She causes him and Harley a lot of grief.

What inspired you to write this story?

Well, internet dating is a very timely topic, and I liked the idea of two people who had a complicated history getting together.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Most people want to find true love, and many now internet date. Harley and Abisi have complicated pasts and lives. Many people who have a history do.

Tell us a little about your characters.

I don’t have a favorite character, but I think both of them are admirable. Harley wants true love but is holding onto her past. She has to change a great deal and take risks. Many people fear that.

Who is your most unusual/likable character?

I loved writing the character of her friend Donna. She is a true friend and very laid back.

What is your goal for the book?

I’d like people to see that risk-taking is acceptable and that true love is something we should all seek. Sometimes, loving means getting hurt, but it can also lead to real romance. They travel from New Orleans to London and then to Liverpool. It’s in Liverpool that he proposes marriage.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

I love red wine when I write.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t always follow my dream. I only really started pursuing the craft in the last few years.

What writer influenced you the most?

Louisa May Alcott. I read “Little Women” and thought I was Jo. She made me want to write.

Where can people find out more about you and your books?


Grainne (Grace) O’Malley, the main character in Pirate Woman by Viola Russell

What is your story?

I’m Grainne (Grace) O’Malley, the main character in Viola Russell’s Pirate Woman. I am a chieftain’s daughter, born in Ireland in 1530. My countrymen call me a Pirate Queen, and I share a birthdate with another queen, Elizabeth I. In many ways, I followed a conventional path. My father married me to a chieftain, Donal O’Flaherty, and I bore him three children. After he died, I wed Richard Bourke, an even more powerful chieftain, but this marriage was of my choosing. I knocked on his door and made a business deal with him. Little did I know it would turn into much more.

In almost every other way my life was conventional. At eleven years old, I cut my hair and sneaked aboard my father’s ship. After my marriages, I continued my life of piracy and also developed the legitimate shipping interests of my father and my two husbands.

My whole life has been one of survival. I’ve outlived two husbands and the death of my lover Bruce. When my family members faced death at the hands of British authorities, I negotiated their release with Queen Elizabeth, winning over her feared lord deputy. My goal in life was to see my family and clan survive in the face of fierce competition among clans and in the face of British oppression. In that respect, I won, but often, winning came at a steep price. I saw my children take their places in Irish society, and I piloted my own ships into my 70s.

Where do you live?

I live in the West of Ireland. My father was a chieftain, and my shipping interests–both legitimate and not so legitimate–covered almost every inch of Ireland and Europe.

Do you embrace conflict?

Because of the British presence in my land and the competition among the clans, conflict was part of my daily life. I spent time in prison and fought soldiers at my castle. I sent enemy chieftains running and regretting that they ever crossed me. While I didn’t want the conflict, I sometimes loved the chase, and outfoxing the Brits–as well as rival chieftains–also excited me.

Do you run from conflict?

Running is something I could never afford to do. The nature of my business placed me in the path of conflict. I challenged my father’s authority and constantly challenged my husbands. When my husband Donal was murdered, I faced marauders at the castle with my children–and sent many of the marauders to God. When the Crown threatened to put my sons and brother to death, I faced the most powerful queen in Britain’s history.

How do your enemies see you?

My enemies see me as a foul hag. They have accused me of everything from promiscuity to witchcraft, but they only hate me because I outsmart them.

What are your achievements?

I have elevated my father’s clan and that of my husbands. I elevated the O’Flaherty clan with little help from my husband Donal. He made one stupid move after another, and eventually, his clan named me as representative of the family. My children married into prominent families, and my son Tibbot proved to be a credit to the clan. I also have captained my ships into my 70s.

Do you have a hero?

There were several heroic men in my life. I worshipped my father. He was fearless but loving and adored me. Bruce, my first love, was brave and gave his life for me. Richard, my second husband, was an amazing warrior who also had nerve and cunning. He was my equal in every way.

What do you want?

I want my clan and family to survive. To achieve that goal, I’ve sacrificed my personal safety and spilled blood.

What do you regret?

Regret is pointless. Time cannot be altered. I may wish that certain things were different. I wish I had realized the depth of my feelings for Richard earlier. I wish my son Owen hadn’t been murdered by soldiers in front of his children. And maybe–in another life–Bruce and I would be an ordinary couple raising sheep in the countryside.

Who was your first love?

Bruce Donnel, one of my father’s gallowglasses/mercenaries, was my first love. In a different life, Bruce and I would have lived as lovers and never had to be parted.

Have you ever had an adventure?

I’ve had numerous adventures. My son Tibbot was born at sea. As a girl, I sneaked aboard my father’s ship and killed a man during a raid. I was thrown into prison and escaped death as I awaited the noose.

What is your favorite beverage?

I love whiskey and keep a flask upon me aboard ship. At home while dining, I drink wine like a proper chieftain’s wife.

Links: http://www.redrosepublishing.com

Viola Russell, Author of “Love at War”

Welcome, Viola. What is your book about?

LOVE AT WAR by me, Viola Russell, takes place during WWII. It is the story of Nuala Comeaux Roussel, a young New Orleanian who marries Keith, a friend of her brothers’. When Keith is presumably killed in battle, Nuala joins the military and is recruited by the OSS.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The idea for the novel was a germ in my brain for a long time. All of my uncles served in WWII, and my Uncle Russell (who never returned) wrote passionate letters home to his young wife. When my mother died, I read Russell’s letters to my grandparents. That summer, my cousin Sandy let me read her dad (Russell’s) letters to her mother and her mother’s letters to him. Wow! They were passionate. I’m not telling their story (even though I did name Nuala’s daughter Sandy), but I’m telling the story of that generation. Many young people went to war as innocent kids. Many lost their lives and their innocence.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I think part of me is in any of my main characters, but I only pray I’m like Nuala. I am somewhat like her because many people see me as very ladylike and proper, not very forceful or powerful. Nuala’s family sees her in the same way, but she shows her power, even ruthlessness, when she is recruited by the OSS.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Nuala Comeaux Roussell is the main character. She is fragile and gentle on the outside but strong and determined on the inside. She’s beautiful but outwardly modest, and her demeanor makes her the perfect covert operative. Keith Roussel is her husband. He is loving and passionate, but he is a fierce warrior and expert marksman. He doesn’t break, even when tortured. Nuala’s brothers also play major roles in the novel, particularly George. George begins the novel as a lovable smartass. By the novel’s end, he’s battle-hardened, but he still has immense passion and love inside. He’s a very complex character, one of the most complex I’ve ever written. Chiye Toguri is also a covert operative. She becomes Nuala’s confidante, and her character is as complex as is George’s.

Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

This is a tough one. The character who evolved the most is George, but Nuala has a special place in my heart. I imagined her physically like my mother–who also was a beautiful woman–and I even sent Nika Dixon, the talented cover artist, a picture of my mother when she deigned the book. Nuala embodies everything implied in the term “steel magnolias.”

How long did it take you to write your book?

I began writing the book in earnest after extensive research. I had written the first scene for the Dixie Kane contest, which is offered by my local RWA chapter. Then, I read books and scoured the internet. The actual writing took less than six months, but I wrote mostly in the summer. I was like a person possessed. This book was intensely personal.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

My characters developed as they faced certain trying situations. The more I researched, the more I wanted to add to my plot, and my characters evolved with each new adventure. They spoke to me, and I heard their voices. Many, like George, grew in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I had to see the war end in LOVE AT WAR. I didn’t want to stop at Normandy because the war still raged. I wanted to show the aftermath. Several characters also had to face justice. Karma will out!

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

The most difficult part was that I wanted to be accurate about the history and facts, and I tend to be a perfectionist. I’d be in the middle of a scene, and I’d then have to move quickly to the internet to confirm a detail. I wanted accuracy on things like the types of weapons the various armies used and on the various uniforms.

Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

Writing the book was a profound experience for me. This book was the most personal one I’d ever written. It was a Valentine for my mother. In many ways, I was writing the book for her, and I dedicated it to my uncles.

How has your background influenced your writing?

My mother encouraged me to read and to study. She read to me often, and I owe my love of reading to her. My father had uncommon guts and gall. He bootlegged during the Depression, trained prize fighters, and also trained race horses. He had four wives. My mother, his widow, was seventeen years his junior. One day, I’ll tell his story. Both of my parents had grit. They grew up poor, worked hard, and had pride.

What writer influenced you the most?

Louisa May Alcott was probably my biggest influence. I read LITTLE WOMEN and wanted to be Jo. I also loved Anna Sewell’s BLACK BEAUTY. My dad trained horses, and I think they are gorgeous creatures. It was after I read those books that I told my mother I wanted to be a writer.

My website is http://www.violarussell.com.
LOVE AT WAR is available on http://www.redrosepublishing.com and on http://www.amazon.com.

See also: Interview with Nuala Comeaux, Hero of “Love at War” by Viola Russell


Nuala Comeaux, Hero of “Love at War” by Viola Russell

Who are you?

I am Nuala Comeaux, and I appear in Viola Russell’s LOVE AT WAR, available through http://www.redrosepublishing.com. The novel is set during WWII, and I am the protagonist. My story begins in the summer of 1941 when I’ve turned eighteen. It is while I’m with my sister Rose on the beach that I meet Keith Roussel after a long absence.

Where do you live?

When the novel opens, I am a high school student in New Orleans. Throughout the novel, I travel to England, France, and Germany after I join the OSS.

What is your problem in the story?

The war is coming to the States, and my husband, Keith Roussel, is drafted. He deploys before our daughter Sandy is born, and then, he is captured while on a sniper mission, presumed dead or POW. As a result, I join the WAC, and later, the OSS. I am recruited by my brother Will to work undercover.

How do you see yourself?

My self-perception changes throughout the narrative. When the novel opens, I’m very much the obedient daughter and am dominated by my siblings. When Keith is killed, I become much more determined and stronger. No one can believe that timid Nuala would leave all she holds dear and join the WAC or the OSS, but I am determined to avenge Keith. My motives aren’t simply patriotism.

How do your friends see you?

My friends see me as weak, shy, and easily led. What few people see is how Keith’s love changed me and how his death hardened me.

How do your enemies see you?

To my enemies, i have to seem like a fragile, innocent person. Gen. Johann Blenk, the man I must seduce and entrap, sees me as gentle and as easily crushed as a flower.

Do you have a goal?

My goal is manifold and changes throughout my story. My first goal is to avenge my husband, and then, when I learn of the treachery surrounding his capture, I wanted to learn the truth about his supposed death. My ultimate goal, however, is to return to my child.

What are your achievements?

I can convince my enemy that I’m everything I pretend to be–even as I lie in his arms.

Do you talk about your achievements?

As a spy, I cannot discuss my achievements. Part of my achieving success means that I have to keep secrets and live a duplicitous life.

Do you have any skills?

I’m skilled with languages; in fact, Will recruits me to the OSS because we learned German from our German mother and French from our French-born paternal grandmother.

What do you want?

I want my family back; I want my country at peace; I want victory and revenge.

What do you need?

I must maintain the facade I adopt while I work because I want nothing more than revenge for the loss of the man I love.

What was your childhood like?

My childhood was spent in dignified poverty. My father was a carpenter/house painter. My mother was a war bride. My parents met when my father was a soldier in WWI, and we felt their love even though we didn’t have much money.

Who is your true love?

Keith Roussel is my true love and my first love. I wanted him even in grade school, and I knew when we first made love that I’d love him forever.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

If were stranded on a desert island, I would want Keith with me. No other lover has so aroused every sinew within my body or so reached the depths of my soul.

See also: Interview withViola Russell, Author of Love at War