Charlie L. Russell

Charlie L. Russell
The Worthy Ones

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
March 4, 2003

1. Who is Charlie L. Russell?

Born 3/10/32. Started writing at 19. Two children, Katheryn and Joshua. Love music, especially classical, jazz and the blues. I've read many admirable writers. But my major influences are Picasso and Miles.

2. What inspired you to write the novel "The Worthy Ones?"

There are so many wonderful American stories. I thought this one should be told.

3. How did you come up with the title "The Worthy Ones?"

I change the title of the novel several times. When I finished writing it, I still didn't have one I liked. One day it occurred to me that I'd written a homage to past generations.

4. How did you come about the Johnson family characters?

The name "Johnson" is a very common African American name. The Johnson's are a stereotypical black family. There is an absentee father. The family leans on the mother for survival. There is conflict and drama.

5. How did you come about the Pettaway family characters?

The name "Pettaway" is not so common. The Pettaway family are members of the working class. The father support the family while the mother remains in the home.

6. How long did it take you to write, "The Worthy Ones?"

20 years.

7. Do any of the characters in this novel have your personality?


8. Are you currently working on another novel?

Yes. "The Worthy Ones" is the first novel in a trilogy, "Tales from the African American Diasporas."

The second novel, tentatively title "Bird's children," deals with the family after they arrive in Oakland. It ends in 1957.

The third novel takes place in the 60's. One brother is a professional basketball player in Boston; the other, a writer, involved in the Second Harlem Renaissance.

9. What type of atmostphere do you require to write in?

Music creates atmosphere.

10. What message would you like readers to receive from reading "The Worthy Ones?"

That African Americans are not just victims. They are a whole people with a storied history and a rich culture.