Russell J. Sanders has authored six young adult novels, with one more set to release in the fall, all from the comfort of his Oak Forest residence.
Sanders, having grown up in Fort Worth and became a teacher in Brownsville, moved to Houston to be with family and has been here almost forty years, with half of those years spent on Chippendale Road.
His love for the written word was planted in his childhood, “I have always loved reading, my mother instilled that in me,” Sanders said. His mother always had a book with her everywhere she went.
“I always loved English class; I always loved writing. I majored in Music in college with enough credit for a minor in theater. But I’ve always taught in addition to music and theater, English,” Sanders said.
He went on to explain that most of his teaching experience has been with English and writing. At first, he never considered himself a writer, but when teaching others, he found it helped if he wrote with his students to make them more comfortable doing the writing exercises.
“I taught a method where everything my students did was right. We never had objective tests. They always wrote and usually it was a creative assignment,” Sanders said.
After retiring as a teacher Sanders decided to take a writing class in children’s literature. One of the instructors of the class, who was a Newbery Award finalist, encouraged him to keep writing. So, he went out and found a group of writers, where he found his niche in young adult. The group would submit pages to one another for critique—helping them find the mistakes in their work they hadn’t seen before.
His most recent book release, Titanic Summer, was first started in that group about nine years ago. But the group began to change and with new members coming and going, Sanders thought it was time to branch off on his own. Around that time he had a book, Thirteen Therapists, accepted for publishing by Featherweight Press.
When his second book, Special Effect, was ready for submission Sanders found another publishing company, Harmony Ink Press, who has also published his other novels.
“I write in a burst of enthusiasm. I get an idea, I sit down, and in about three weeks I finish the novel. Then I will reread it and then sort of put it away and wait three or four months before rereading it again. I do revisions and once I’m satisfied I submit it,” Sanders said.
The revision process of Titanic Summer was a lot different and took longer to complete. He had the initial premise years ago, but through the editing process discovered the story in need of a complete flip of the main character and added many other characters.
During the time Sanders was working through the novel Houston voters rejected Proposition 1, known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). This was a great loss to him, so he implemented HERO into Titanic Summer, making the revisal process longer.
Normally after submission the process of grammar editing and fact checking by the publishing editors takes place, which takes no more than two months.
The other books Sanders currently has published are The Book of Ethan, Colors, and All You Need Is Love. His next novel, You Can’t Tell by Looking, will be released in the fall.