All working parents must feel like they have split personalities at times: hard-working, serious professionals by day, caregivers and entertainers by night. This week’s installment of the Weekend Name Drop has taken this dynamic a step further, recently dropping his prestigious day job to pursue freelance writing, including more like that prompted by his daily story-telling sessions with his two boys. Meet James Russell.
Name: James Russell
Creative field: Children’s author, freelance writer, former journalist and editor
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
My connection: Similar to my first face-to-face encounter with Bronwyn Elsmore, I met James at the 2014 Auckland Independent Book Festival. He had the most impressive display there, not only due to the terrific art work in his books, but also because of his personable demeanor. He was a busy man, with many potential customers perusing his books. He bought a copy of my novel, Te Kauhanga, and subsequently reviewed it. Since then, we’ve interacted periodically via Facebook. Just this week, I learned we have another contact in common, ZR Southcombe, whom I will feature in a future edition of the Weekend Name Drop.
Inspiration for this writer: When I think of a children’s book author, I don’t necessarily think of editors of nationally circulated magazines. I was impressed to learn that James was, until recently, the editor of Element magazine, a weekly insert in the New Zealand Herald focused on sustainable business and lifestyle. James is a proponent of independent publishing and, like most of us, balances this with family and career commitments. He is also an astute marketer and collaborator.
Why you should check him out and share with others: James’ book are circulating ever more widely around the country (even emerging here at Taumarunui’s Paper Plus) and receiving good reviews, not only for his writing, but for their terrific artwork provided by illustrator, Link Choi, who has also worked as a props designer on The Hobbit film series. Furthermore, James is now offering readers a revolutionary reading experience, a first in New Zealand. According to James’ website, “The much-loved maps on the end papers of each book now have augmented reality content.” This involves using an app called Peekavu. It’s probably best to watch the video below to see how it works:
Sample of work: As for his writing, here’s a little sample from The Dragon Tamers, the third book in James’ Dragon Brothers trilogy:
The only cure for boredom
(as all smart children know)
Is, of course, to go somewhere
You’re not allowed to go…
Here’s James himself in his interview with Tamati Coffey on Breakfast, following the release of The Dragon Hunters, the first book in his Dragon Brothers series.
The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.