"When your characters start surprising you, you're doing something right."*
That's the best writing advice historical fiction writer David Downing has ever received.
Downing lives and works in suburban London and does his best thinking walking in the hills near his home: "'I just go for long walks and try to make up stories. Once you've got a cast of characters, you just stick them in a situation in a particular historical moment and it just sort of comes.'"
Most of the Russell series is set in Berlin, Germany, but Russell has never felt the need to visit that city: "'The Berlin that's there now has absolutely no relation to the one I write about,'" he says. Instead, he reads histories about the period and guidebooks, maps and novels from the period. "'Fiction that is written at the time helps you with what people were eating, how they dressed, what places were like,'" elaborates Downing.**
* "7 questions with . . . David Downing," Posted by Cat on May 21, 2012, http://bookpage.com/the-book-case/12587-7-questions-with-david-downing#.VD8Oo7ktDIU
** Quotes in this paragraph are from "Espionage Writer David Downing Turns to a New War," by Steve Dougherty, May 8, 2014 5:35 p.m. ET, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304101504579543643601350278