Shelley Russell Nolan is an avid reader who began writing her own stories at sixteen. Her first completed manuscript featured brain-eating aliens and a butt-kicking teenage heroine. Since then she has spent her time creating fantasy worlds where death is only the beginning and even freaks can fall in love.
A member of Queensland Writers Centre and the Regional Writers Reference Group, Shelley regularly attends workshops and writers festivals to meet other writers and readers.
Born in New Zealand, moving to Australia with her family when she was seven, Shelley currently lives in Central Queensland, Australia, with her husband and two young children. They share their home with two wrecking ball kitties, a deformed budgerigar, and a pipsqueak of a dog that is fairly normal as dogs go.
What inspired you to write your urban fantasy novel, Dark Justice?
The idea for Dark Justice came to me after watching an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in which Spike (The Big Bad) had a chip put in his brain that stopped him from hurting humans. That got me thinking about a character who was driven to kill but somehow became compelled to protect one specific person. While playing ‘What if …?’ with this idea kernel, I came to the conclusion that if a ‘Bad Guy’ was suddenly protective of a human woman it would make the ‘Good Guys’ suspicious about the woman, making the role of protector much harder. From there I had to figure out what my Beast was supposed to protect his Beauty from, and the world of Dark Justice was born. I have to thank Joss Whedon for an episode of his TV show inspiring this story.
Are there any aspects of your characters and setting that are based upon your own life experiences?
While I do use some of my own experiences to flesh out my characters in relation to emotional responses, personal conflicts and motivations, the setting for Dark Justice is completely fictional. I wanted it to have a universal setting, so the reader can imagine the events taking place in their own backyard in a potential future.
What adventures can we expect your characters to have in future books in The Last Ward series?
In the fallout from the ending of the first book, my characters will discover that for every action there are consequences. Not everyone will be happy with the new future dangling in front of them and will take steps to ensure their way of life is not endangered, while others will be out for revenge. The fight for a better world for all humankind is far from over.
What is your biggest motivation for writing?
I love seeing the story come alive under my fingertips and receive immense satisfaction when a reader adores my characters and the worlds I create as much as I do. There is nothing like hearing from a reader how much they enjoyed a story and having them talk about the character as if they are real.
How many books have you written?
I have been writing since I was a teenager, and in that time I have completed eight books and six novellas. Of those, four of the books and all six novellas have been published, with more books to come in 2020. I also have to confess to having a large number of stories I have started over the years that I hope to get back to one day, as well as many new story ideas still to work on.
What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
Finishing. So many people start writing a book and then never finish it. But I did it. As bad as that first manuscript was, featuring a teenage heroine who had to fight brain-eating aliens, I got from page one to the end. Once that book was finished I wrote another book. And then another one. With each completed manuscript my writing got better, until I wrote a book that was accepted by a publisher. From there I moved on to finishing my first series.
What advice would you give a young writer trying to get published?
Write lots and read lots. Read outside your genre, experiment with your writing style and write what excites you the most.
What helps you overcome writer’s block?
For me, a block usually means I am not sure what is going to happen next. To get past the block I go back to the start. I read my notes on the story and then read through the manuscript until I get to the part where I am stuck. If a way to unblock my story hasn’t come to me by then, I will take a cat nap to mull over my story. At that stage I have usually figured out what comes next and can get back to the writing. I also like to spend my free time reading books by my favourite authors as it reminds me of what it is I love about their stories and how I can translate that feeling into my own writing.
Describe your writing style in three words.
Dark. Suspenseful. Fast-paced.
Five hundred years ago, the cure for the common cold went horribly wrong, turning those infected into freaks consumed with hate and rage. Forced underground, the freaks return above ground at night, driven to attack the surface dwellers – their bite infecting thousands more.
The Captain of the Ward, Jackson Kyle, is infected while saving the life of another warden. Due to his genetic enhancements, he is like no other freak. His faculties intact, he escapes from the Ward and encounters a mysterious young woman. The second he touches her, he is caught in a bond, compelled to protect her at all costs. For she will decide the fate of humankind.
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▶️ Dark Justice