This spotlight and interview features Mike Russell, author of Nothing Is Strange.
20 mind-expanding short stories. Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique… all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy: Nothing Is Strange. Available here: viewBook.at/nothingisstrange
Praise for Nothing Is Strange:
‘Nothing Is Strange is a unique collection of short stories that takes readers to bizarre places and lets them experience dreamlike situations that I have yet to read in other books.’ Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite
‘This book is exciting, delightfully unique, with a skilful blend of mystery, passion and intrigue. If you are looking for something that is fun and different, pick up a copy of this book.’ Al-Khemet Book Club
Nothing Is Strange awarded Gold Star Award:
‘This cover is kind of perfect, don’t you think?’ Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer Cover Awards
‘The book is well written… There are worlds woven within words. It is just one of those books that makes you glare at anyone who interrupts you. It is impossible to put it down before you finish it. A delight!!!’ Ankita Dasgupta for Chasingeuphoria
‘Out there in a good way…while reading, I could actually visualise his bizarre characters and settings in my head and it was sort of like walking through a gallery of surrealist paintings… it is beyond cool, well beyond ordinary, and just so what I needed right now.’ NancyO for OddlyWeirdFiction
Finally, the Goodreads page for the book that contains information alongside reviews is found here: Nothing Is Strange.
Interview with ‘Nothing Is Strange’ author Mike Russell:
Why are you a writer?
Ultimately, that is a mystery. However, when I was a teenager I discovered that in books there were written things that no one ever spoke about. This was a revelation to me. As an adult I find it astonishing that this is still the case! My story ‘The Diaries of Sun City’ explores this and so I am sharing it with you here for free. (see below)
Your book’s title is ‘Nothing Is Strange. Why?
The title comes from one of the stories in the collection, so for it to be fully understood you will have to read the book. However, it is also a wonderfully inclusive phrase. It is a great slogan, which sums up the ethos of www.strangebooks.com – acceptance of the unusual. All good slogans can be found on T-shirts, which is why we have ‘Nothing Is Strange’ T-shirts on sale through the website!
Which writers first inspired you?
As a child I loved Roald Dahl. I then moved on to HG Wells, then Philip K Dick and Angela Carter. These are all writers who explore the mysteries of life and who enjoy the strange.
My second book is being published very soon… To be notified of its release simply go to our website www.strangebooks.com and click ‘Follow’. You will then receive an email as soon as it is on sale. You can also connect with me via Facebook and Twitter (the links can again be found at www.strangebooks.com) where we have competitions, book giveaways and advertise our live events (I regularly perform my stories in venues around the UK.)
Now here is the story I promised you. I hope you like it. It is one of the twenty stories in ‘Nothing Is Strange’.
The Diaries of Sun City:
Hello. It is Monday. I live in Sun City. Sun City is a city that is entirely contained inside an enormous concrete building in the shape of a sun. Its rays house our living quarters; its circular centre is where we work and shop. No one has ever been outside of the city; it is generally suspected that the environment outside of the city is uninhabitable.
People write diaries for a particular reason here, where our social etiquette is constricting. Diaries are so popular that they have their own shop. The shop is called ‘We Are Diaries’. I have not owned a diary until now. The idea of placing my most secret, most sacred feelings out in the world terrifies me but today I bought a small, black book with blank, white pages and the word ‘Diary’ embossed on its cover.
I walked from the shop and through the city centre with the diary in my pocket and caught the bus that runs up and down the concrete ray that houses my apartment. My apartment is at the very end of the concrete ray.
Inside my apartment, I sat facing the far wall. I lay the diary on my lap, opened it at the first page, then began to write in it with pen and ink.
Why can I not tell Miss Baraclough that I care for her? It would be wrong to of course, inappropriate. She would be offended, that would be expected of her. Reluctantly, her associates would be obliged to sever their relations with me; my associates would be informed and forced to sever their relations with me also. I would feel ashamed because it would be expected of me. Yet I would not feel ashamed when talking to you dear Diary; I would be proud. But I cannot say it to her so this ink is wasted.
It is Tuesday. Despite my dismissal of its worth, I have decided to write to you again. When I opened the diary this evening I discovered the first page to be blank! My memory of writing on the page is clear. Is my memory lying to me?
It is Wednesday. When I opened the diary this evening the first page was blank again. Is the ink fading? I am scared. Imagine saying that to a colleague. ‘Mr Barton, I am scared.’ Imagine his horror, his embarrassment, his contempt. Tomorrow, I will whisper it to his back.
It is Thursday. When I opened the diary this evening, the first page was blank again. I decided to count the pages. I counted 362. The pages are disappearing. Someone must be stealing the pages. I have begun constructing elaborate scenarios from my suspicions. Who would want to know my secret thoughts? But had I not once wished to see inside Miss Baraclough’s diary? If I had spied it when visiting her in her apartment and she had briefly left the room to make a cup of tea, would I not have been tempted to steal a glance at a few words? From this confession, dear Diary, I deduce that the pages could have been stolen by absolutely anyone.
I expect that by tomorrow evening this page will also have disappeared.
It is Friday. I was right; the page has gone. Today, on the bus, I wanted to shout obscenities and bare myself to the other passengers. My confessions to you, dear Diary, are becoming more honest with the thought that they are being read. I am no longer scared of my words being seen because they are evidently being read by someone who welcomes them, who needs them. But I am fantasising. My door is bolted from the inside at night and there are no windows in my apartment. How then are the pages disappearing? Am I destroying them myself in my sleep? Is there a part of me that abhors these words, that would rather I was a perfect citizen with no feelings that need to be hidden? I will stay at Miss Baraclough’s tonight.
It is Saturday. The page has gone. The ‘We Are Diaries’ shop is wrong; they are not diaries. I do not write to them and it is not this book that I am writing to either. I am not addressing these paper pages or their cardboard cover. Dear Diary, who are you?
It is Sunday. I want to leave the city. What is outside of the city? Is that where you reside? Do you have a throne on the other side of the world?
It is Monday. I am hammering a chisel into the far wall of my apartment, the end of the concrete ray. Bang follows bang with no lessening of passion. My desire grows as my energy fades. Bang. Bang. It falls away in chunks.
I can see a little light that grows.
The hole is big enough to crawl through.
I crawl through.
It is so bright! The ground is covered in pages, knee deep, for as far as I can see. White pages covered in writing in different hands lay naked, exposed, pressed against one another. It is overwhelming. I wade through them.
I walk in a straight line all day, bewildered but purposeful, towards Diary’s throne.
In the distance I can see other people. They are also wading through the pages, striding from every direction towards the same destination, fearless, with nothing to lose. Could it be that everyone has broken through their respective concrete rays at the same time and for the same reason as I?
When we reach a distance where Diary’s throne should be in sight, we all realise that it is not there, and that it is not the throne that we are walking towards but each other.
The air is full of unrestricted speech.
We now no longer live inside the sun but are illuminated by it.
Now we become the throne.
Now we are Diary.
Copyright © 2014 Mike Russell. All Rights Reserved.
If anyone is interested in purchasing the book you can find the link below:
The whole of ‘Nothing Is Strange’ is available to buy here: viewBook.at/nothingisstrange
*On a side note, I didn’t conduct the author interview in this post. I haven’t been blogging long and didn’t feel I had enough actual blogging experience to conduct one myself (laugh if you want) it came ready prepared with the spotlight information sent by the publisher, so, many thanks to both them and the original interviewer for allowing it to be included as a part of this post.