Hamish Downie’s Five Questions with Avery R Russell

Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

I recently discovered this lovely writer, who followed me on twitter (you can too – @hamishdownie)

TGG: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

ARR: I’m Avery R. Russell. I am an AMAB GNC (Assigned-Male-at-Birth Gender nonconforming) queer person. I prefer no pronouns, just my name.
I’m disabled U.S. Army veteran, reformed college English instructor, aspiring screenwriter of TV shows all of which have lead LGBTQ characters, a parent of two, and author of “Violet the Whale: A Queer Little Story of Acceptance and Self”.

As far as hobbies, I’m an avid baseball and hockey fan and enjoy SCUBA diving. Professionally, I’ve had a few scripts place well in contests: My 30-minute comedy pilot, FALLING OUT, reached the quarterfinals of the 2017 NexTV script contest. Another 30-minute comedy pilot, KUSHY’S, was a quarterfinalist in Scriptapalooza’s Television Writing Competition (Fall 2018), a semi-finalist in the 2020 FEEDBACK Toronto Comedy Film &
Screenplay Festival and twice reached Coverfly’s “Top (20) Rated Television (Half-Hour) Screenplays This Week.” My crime feature, THE JOINT, was a semi-finalist in the 2020 New Faces New Voices festival.
Most recently, I was accepted into the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Program. This is a yearlong mentorship with WGA mentors and is for veterans only.

TGG: Those are some amazing achievements! Could you tell us about your book, “Violet the Whale”? Did you illustrate it yourself?

ARR:My BFF actually presented me with some characters she drew. She was just doodling one day and fell into drawing a cute violet whale. She sent some of the drawings to me and asked me point blank if I could write a story about them… so I did! Violet is the color you get when you combine the gender typical colors pink for a girl and blue for a boy; they are the stripes in the transgender flag. I loved the idea and drafted a basic story in about a day. And when I sent it
back to her she cried (happy tears) and said we needed to make it into a book. So, we did!

We designed the book and sent it out to proofreads, mainly trans/gender nonconforming people we know, and then crowdfunded to raise the funds for hard copies. We ran a successful campaign. The campaign drew the attention of the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria. A copy of Violet is now part of that archive. Miesha is a gifted artist. If anyone is looking for website and graphics assistance, I highly recommend her. You can see her work at Miesha Kelly Design.

TGG: Can you tell us what inspires your work?

ARR: Real life. In everything I write there is a part of me or someone I love or with whom I’ve had a notable interaction. Violet is me at a young age. But unlike Violet, I didn’t have those types of parents. So, I wrote Violet as a reflection of my life, what I would have loved to have heard my parents say and how I’d have loved them to respond. In my scripts, every character is someone I know. I’ve embellished a great deal for the sake of the story, as most writers do. But it’s real life in all of its glory and disgust that goes into my work in some way.
There’s a saying: “Write what you know.” That’s the motto by which I create.

TGG: What’s next for you?

ARR: I’m drafting out a new children’s book with a trans girl, Moxy, who’s a bit like a Nancy Drew character. Aside from that, I’m writing and pitching TV and feature scripts to managers, agents, producers and directors.

TGG: Sounds exciting! Finally, how can we best support you (follow you on twitter, buy your books, etc)?

ARR: Buying the book would be the best support.

Buy here:


Beyond that, I love interacting with others on Twitter. I might be on @YouEnbyMe a bit too much since we started the quarantining. You can
also connect with me through my website YouEnbyMe.com. On that site, you can learn more about me as well as get a glimpse into my other work.

TGG: Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed! I’m looking forward to hearing more from Avery R Russell in the future!


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