Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your YA novel! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
B.B. Russell: Thank you! Kindreds has been a dream of mine for almost ten years that has finally come to fruition. The premise is about connection and finding where we belong. Lilah, the main character, has to grapple with making a decision between two worlds, one ordinary and one unknown. She must decide which she wants to be in, who she can trust, and ultimately what she knows to be true.
I have always been an avid reader and I love to write. Kindreds is the story that wanted to be told. I started off writing a very different story, but the journey of being oneself kept coming back to me. Once I started writing about Lilah, I couldn’t stop. She is a combination of so many adolescents with whom I have worked as a social worker.
BD: The novel offers a perspective that readers don’t often have the opportunity to see in YA literature: children in the foster care system. What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing this perspective to light for young readers, and what have been some of your creative influences?
BBR: As a social worker, I have encountered many children who have been part of the foster care system and share some of Lilah’s worries about having to move into an unknown home. In Kindreds, Lilah ends up in a home that doesn’t care much about her choices and doesn’t provide much guidance. Her foster parents are nice enough, but aloof, and are part of a secret group influencing Lilah’s life and those she cares about. Living in foster care is difficult for any child, and Lilah is no exception.
For me, writing takes time, revision, and letting the story unfold. I received some wonderful feedback from other writers about my story lines and the relationships Lilah develops with her foster parents. I drew upon my knowledge from my own work in the helping professions, and while most of clients were placed in loving homes, there were a few situations that were less than stellar from which helped shape Lilah’s experiences. My creative influences come from so many places. I love to read stories of all genres, take meaning from memes, listening to children talk to one another, and my imagination. I am a vivid dreamer who often has the most wonky dreams, but they open my mind to possibilities I may not have thought of or allowed myself to think in my waking hours. Some of my biggest creative influences are places I have lived, people I have worked with, vintage images/photographs, and outdoor waterfalls. Nature is a big creative influence that can settle my insides and draws me into creativity.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Lilah’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
BBR: I believe that as readers we find ourselves in the characters we are drawn to. I hope that readers will connect with Lilah’s determination, never-ending curiosity, willingness to question what is going on around them even when others don’t, and her desire to belong not necessarily just fit in with a crowd. Lilah is like so many of us. She is headstrong, wanting connection, a bit lost in knowing what she truly wants, and restricted by the expectations of others. She has to face many conflicting feelings and interactions with others, just like every other adolescent. I hope that readers will identify with her and know that they are not alone.
BD: Do you foresee expanding the novel into subsequent books or even into other entertainment mediums, if given the opportunity?
BBR: YES! Kindreds is the first of the Nolianna Series! It would make a great movie or series for sure!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
BBR: Book two of the Nolianna Series is in the works! Stay tuned for more information!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Kindreds and your other work?
BBR: Please check out my website at www.bethrussellauthor.com and social media at @bbrussellauthor on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.