APKY/AMP: Hello Bob. Thanks for giving us this interview. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
I was born and lived the first eight years of my life in Victoria, B.C., Canada. Since my Father died in an industrial accident when I was a year old—it influenced my entire life. My wife and I have traveled worldwide including all 50 states, all Canadian provinces, and all 7 continents. My favorite ethnic food is Thai. My favorite individual foods include ginger (in almost any variety), curries, and dark chocolate.
Writing is an outgrowth of my personal studies and my professional career. As a management consultant I was widely recognized for my ability to take complex topics and simplify them into easy to understand ideas and concepts. As a long-term Bible study leader I seek to do the same thing. My goal in spiritual matters is to assist others in developing a “living theology which translates into a dynamic discipleship.”
The first manuscript I developed (and my latest book release, “God Light”) came about in my early professional career. I was starting a new position which is always a challenge—but this time I was in foreign territory. I had been named Camera Engineering Manager of a Fortune 500 firm. Although I had engineering management experience and was an avid amateur photographer, I knew virtually nothing about optics and the theories of light. It was a time of intense technical study. Simultaneously I became intrigued with the Apostle John’s statement in 1 John 1:5, “God is light.” What did John mean? Is there something more to this statement than meets the eye? Did the Holy Spirit of God inspire John to write three simple words that were packed with meaning beyond what John could fully understand? As I studied physical light, these questions remained prevalent in my thinking. Now over 30 years later I have finally published a revision of that first manuscript.
APKY/AMP: Wow, what experiences. By the way, I share your love of Thai food and curries. J What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
I write exclusively non-fiction related to the Christian faith.
APKY/AMP: Very exclusive indeed. Is there a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
I have a strong desire to help individuals understand the Christian faith in meaningful ways.
APKY/AMP: I think I can understand your passion here. What have you had published to-date?
I have published three manuscripts in the “Christian Concepts Series” and have edited a fourth book.
God Light: Sunlight Sonlight; ISBN 9780741475534 – Paper, ISBN 9780741475541 – eBook
Thy Will Be Done On Earth: Understanding God’s Will for You; ISBN 9781606474303 – paper, ISBN 9781606474310 – hardback
Editor of Jim Elliot: A Christian Martyr Speaks to You; ISBN: 9781615797646 – paper
APKY/AMP: Do you have any advice for other writers, in general?
My experience is that writing is hard work and I must have a passion for the subject or it would never come to fruition.
APKY/AMP: So very true. Why should we buy your book?
“God Light” identifies fascinating parallels between natural and spiritual light, contrasts the natural and spiritual light of the world, and illustrates applications of natural and spiritual light. Analogies teach profound truth in simple language. Written in short easily digestible segments, it is ideal reading for the person on the go. The reader will understand the statements “God is light” and “The Light of the World.” The Bible says Christians are to shine like lights in a dark world. “God Light” enables Christians to do this in a profound way.
“God Light” is part of the “Christian Concepts Series” presenting Timeless Truths with a Contemporary Perspective. This series enlightens, exhorts, edifies, encourages, and entertains.
One reviewer said this: This is truly are amazing. I marvel at the wisdom God has given you and the talent to put it on paper in a meaningful/fascinating way. I have anything but a scientific mind! I found myself saying out loud, “Wow, that's amazing,” many times. I worked through the technical only to be thrilled by the application at the end of each chapter. The parallel of God and His Son to the sun is brilliant! I know it’s in God's Word but you have brilliantly explored His message and made it meaningful to an “un-brilliant” person such as myself! … You have opened my eyes to the light around me. Yesterday, as I looked at the clouds casting shadows on the earth, I thought of the truths you have taught me. I look at ordinary things differently. I have already used many of the truths in my mentoring and find myself sharing your thoughts in everyday conversation. … This is so rich! … This is great! … Wonderful! … Mind boggling to say the least! … Great material for discussion! … Application pieces are truly inspired! (Elizabeth Hightower, Women’s Ministries Leader, Laurelwood Baptist Church)
APKY/AMP: Now there’s a reviewer you’ve won heart and soul!J How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Marketing is the most difficult area for me. My passion is writing, not sales or marketing. My branding is trying to stick to a specific niche of explaining difficult or complex topics in a simple and interesting way which translates into practical application.
APKY/AMP: You’re not alone there, Bob. Yours truly is a hopeless saleswoman. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Yes. “God Light” is a new release. The previous release in the series, “One Precious Pearl” released in 2010, won five literary awards in 2011:
Book-of-the-Year, Religion: Eastern/Western, Reader Views Reviewers Choice Award (USA)
Runner-up, Religion: Christianity, International Book Awards
Winner, Book: Biblical Studies, The Word Guild (Canada)
Finalist, Religion: Christianity, The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards
Gold (1 of 3 across all book genres), Literary Excellence, World Book Awards
APKY/AMP: Can you lend me just one please? I’ll give it back when I win my own – just don’t hold your breath though! Anyway, is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
I write best in the early mornings in my home office.
APKY/AMP: Eeee! I’m almost dead before midday and much alive around ten p.m. Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
No, but I use my full name since the name Bob Russell is quite common.
APKY/AMP: Lucky you. I have an impossible name I’m turning into A P von K’Ory! Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
No, I do not have an agent. I suspect their value is variable depending on the author’s skills.
APKY/AMP: Right. And getting one these days would take enough time to write three books, except that you’d have your MSSs three, four years on but possibly still no agent. What are you working on at the moment / next?
The next volume in the “Christian Concepts Series” will be about the Christian. The previous ones concerned Christ, the Church, and understanding the Will of God.
APKY/AMP: Good luck with it, Bob. Do you manage to write every day?
No. I tend to go in streaks as my passion varies from time to time. Some stretches involve long hours. Other times I need time to pass to lose my contaminated thinking and then see the writing differently.
APKY/AMP: Contrary to majority writer-tips preaching.J What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
I think it is real and I do suffer from it at times. For me it comes down to rekindling or rediscovering the passion for the topic which I am writing about.
APKY/AMP: I agree; it all comes down to keeping the passion aflame. Do you start with an outline for your books or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
I am a very logical and detail oriented person. First comes research and notes. Before starting to write I develop a fairly detailed outline of where the book is headed and a roadmap of chapters to get there. This may vary somewhat, but so far has never changed drastically.
APKY/AMP: You said it earlier on, Bob – writing is hard work. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
A respected theologian. I look early on for credible professionals in the field who can offer both positive and negative feedback.
APKY/AMP: Professionals is a sound idea even if that professional is a partner or parent, I think. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
I spend a lot of time rewriting but even then my work is not professional from a language standpoint. I have a trusted confidant who is excellent in editing my work before it is seen by anyone else.
APKY/AMP: Maybe we can share the confidant. Could you please ask them to get in touch with me? Anyway, do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Definitely the computer. My first “God Light” manuscript was written in the early 1980s and was about twice as long as the recently published book. It was hand-written on a yellow pad and typed with carbon copies. I am very thankful those days are over.
APKY/AMP: Tell me all about it. I still keep strips of Tippex and the Olivetti in the cellar just to remind me! What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Most of my writing is third person, but I do move into second person writing at times. My online blog often posts second person writing. I also use first person from time to time.
AMP: A man of many talents.J Now let’s get to my favourite question: What do you like to read?
I rarely read fiction. Throughout my adult life I have been an avid reader. I enjoy reading fresh approaches to theology and the application of doctrine.
APKY/AMP: Right, should have guessed. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Family involvement, travel, photography, and woodworking.
AMP: As I just said: a man of many talents. Where can we find out about you and your work?
My book website is http://www.BOOKSrlr.com/
My blog is at http://RobertLloydRussell.blogspot.com/
APKY/AMP: Getting there right after this.JIs there anything else you’d like to mention?
One of my goals in writing is to make it easy for busy people. For that reason each chapter is short—ideal for people with busy lifestyles. At the end of each chapter is a Think & Grow section provided for follow-up study or small group study.
There has been very positive response from a wide variety of readers (from well-respected theologians to prison inmates) as seen in the following comments:
First there was Tozer with The Knowledge of the Holy, and then Packer gave us Knowing God, and now Russell has taken us further with God Light. … There is a tremendous need for a book on this subject. We have witnessed the publication of many books around the statement “God is Love,” but I cannot recall ever seeing one around the statement “God is Light.” It is important that these two attributes of God be brought into conjunction with each other because it is really impossible to discuss love intelligently without understanding light. (Dr. Earl D. Radmacher, General Editor, Nelson Study Bible/New King James Study Bible).
This is truly are amazing. I marvel at the wisdom God has given you and the talent to put it on paper in a meaningful/fascinating way. I have anything but a scientific mind! I found myself saying out loud, “Wow, that's amazing,” many times. I worked through the technical only to be thrilled by the application at the end of each chapter. The parallel of God and His Son to the sun is brilliant! I know it’s in God's Word but you have brilliantly explored His message and made it meaningful to an “un-brilliant” person such as myself! … You have opened my eyes to the light around me. Yesterday, as I looked at the clouds casting shadows on the earth, I thought of the truths you have taught me. I look at ordinary things differently. I have already used many of the truths in my mentoring and find myself sharing your thoughts in everyday conversation. … This is so rich! … This is great! … Wonderful! … Mind boggling to say the least! … Great material for discussion! … Application pieces are truly inspired! (Elizabeth Hightower, Women’s Ministries Leader, Laurelwood Baptist Church).
The following comments are about earlier versions of “God Light.”
He obviously is hitting on all twelve cylinders! What an exciting insight into Christ as the light of the world. Thank God for people like this who have the background to illuminate some of these Biblical concepts. (Dr. Joe Aldrich, President, Multnomah Bible College & Biblical Seminary)
I was utterly fascinated... I am impressed with the work that you have done, with the directionality it has... I do believe that you have an important message which could be greatly used of the Spirit of God in the world today both among the Christian community and in pre-evangelism of the world. (Dr. Ronald Barclay Allen, Senior Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Seminary)
It is must reading. (Richard C. Halverson, Chaplain, U.S. Senate)
The content is terrific... This is a timely book... There is so much content that many other books and articles could be written from small parts of it. (Dr. Freeman L. Schmitt, Senior Pastor)
I got so involved in the subject and read with such great interest that I had trouble reading it critically for accuracy. (Maury J. Merrick, Optics Professor & Consultant)
I find it most inspirational. I can’t profess to knowing anything of physics, never having studied the subject: but the explicit way in which you describe it all – I feel I am able to understand... You make the reader think, and that is a great talent. (Evelyn Cox, homemaker)
I loved the book God Light!... It is very well written and very understandable. Without seeming condescending or talking down to anyone he gets the point across. The Josh McDowell book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, is good too... as soon as I finish it I plan on reading God Light again. It’s definitely the better of the two. (Bobby Glasgow, prison inmate)
APKY/AMP: Very Impressive! Thank you, Bob. I invite you to include an extract of your writing:
“Will it be light or dark in Heaven?” asked my then five-year-old daughter Laura. It was evening and I had just tucked her into bed. As I sat on the edge of her bed she looked up with an inquisitive innocence that communicated to me that it was a serious question.
We had developed a little game at bedtime; I would ask Laura a question regarding the Bible, and she would provide the answer. It was, I thought, a good way to communicate some Christian truths in a natural way. One of the questions that she never missed was, “What three things that characterize God’s nature start with L?” Her response was always immediate, sure, and consistent, “God is love, God is light, and God is life.” Because I was sure that she knew these concepts well, it bothered me to have her now pose this question, which to me had such an obvious answer.
Calmly and methodically I began to help Laura discover the answer for herself. “Well, Honey,” I began, “what three things characterize the nature of God?” “But Dad,” she replied, “you know I know that! What I want to know is will it be light or dark in Heaven?” “Well, Laura, what do you think?” “Dad!” her exasperated soft voice replied. As much as I didn’t want to give in and spoon-feed her the answer, I replied, “Honey, since God IS light, don’t you suppose it will be very, very light in heaven?”
Laura appeared to be deep in thought for a few seconds and then came her reply, “I thought it would be very, very, dark so that we would be able to see Him better!” I must admit I like her concept better than my own, and to this day when reflecting back on that moment I feel a lump in my throat.
Throughout the Bible we find man pictured as being in darkness—actually more literally “as darkness”—or spiritually blind. Those who have discovered and acted upon the truth of Jesus Christ as the Son of God are pictured oppositely as in the light—literally “as light”—with spiritual sight.
As we begin our study of parallels between sunlight and Sonlight, consider the apparent paradox: it is physically harmful to look directly at the sun, but spiritually necessary to look to the Son for direction and salvation (Numbers 21:8, John 3:14).
As a flower moves itself to face the sun, we should keep our focus on the Son. A.W. Tozer put it this way, “God made us to be like planets. Around and around they go, held together by the magnetic attraction of the sun.”
May you always keep the Son in your eyes!
Sunlight / Sonlight
Sunlight dispels physical darkness.
Sonlight dispels spiritual darkness.
THINK AND GROW
What do you think? Will it be light or dark in heaven?
APKY/AMP: I’m speechless, especially considering Laura’s answer! Thank you once again Bob.
Thank you very much.