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from author’s website


I am the quintessential late bloomer. At 28 I returned to school and incrementally earned a BA, MA and ultimately a PhD in literature from the University of California, San Diego. Teaching for years in various colleges and universities, I developed courses that combined my interdisciplinary interests: from “Poetry and the Workplace” to the “Truth of Historical Fiction” to “Literature and the Law,” a topic on which I also write and speak extensively. I am also a credentialed mediator, a practical outgrowth of my academic focus on finding common ground.

Becoming a novelist was, however, less deliberate—one might say accidental—as the story of O’Brien’s Desk found me rather than the other way around. But now I’m hooked. My second book, The Natural Selection, was a California, San Diego and Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist and I am nearing completion of a third. When not writing, I enjoy hiking the beach trails in my hometown of Solana Beach, California, with my husband, neurotic dog, and, when lucky, our two grown children.


Mystery: Ian Piers, An Instance of the Fingerpost 

Poet: Walt Whitman, "Leaves of Grass" 

Novelist: George Eliot, Daniel Deronda 

Lawyer: Clarence Darrow 

Quotes: "In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch-enemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways." 
—Edith Wharton
“The past is never dead, it’s not even past” —William Faulkner


I am a ham, no doubt about it. When I was five years old, I had to be physically dragged off stage after delivering the closing remarks at a dance recital, and nothing has changed. My enthusiasm for speaking extends to groups large and small, whether in a public venue or a living room.  Previous engagements include academic, legal and judicial organizations, literary, legal and mediation conferences, book fairs, book clubs and some of the most respected bookstores in the country. For a quick view of my speaking style, click the attorneycredits.com link below, which excerpts my course on literature and the law: http://www.attorneycredits.com/faculty/Ona-Russell


From members of the American Judges Association:
“The best program so far.”
“Literature should play an important role in our lives and we do in fact learn from it.”

From The San Diego County Bar Association:
“Ona is a knowledgable speaker and truly brings a new perspective to those involved in the legal profession.”

From Latham & Watkins LLP:
“Dr. Russell’s presentation to our lawyers was the fascinating highlight of our firm’s internal training series…a powerful reminder of the influence of literature on the law and why so many of us became lawyers in the first place.”

From lawyers taking Ona’s course, “Literature and the Law,” on Attorneycredits.com:
“Excellent. One of the best CLE’s I’ve taken. Quite inspiring.” –Maria (Chicago, IL)
“Presenter was delightful! Insights as to how to present argument to the judge.”– Janeen (Spring Vallley, CA)
“She is a fabulous speaker, change nothing.”– Kenneth (Los Angeles, CA)
“Far beyond satisfied. Outstanding presenter and extremely interesting content. best of all MCLE classes in my lengthy legal career.”– John (San Pedro, CA).
“The speaker was brilliant and her topic quite provocative. The presentation was very enjoyable.”– Meredith (Vista, CA).
“Outstanding”– Jami (New York City, NY)

From Kate Keyes, Vroman’s Independent Bookstore, Pasadena, CA:
“It was a pleasure to have On a Russell as a featured speaker for our Writer’s Workshop series. Covering historical fictions, she brought new topics and concepts to the group that were previously undiscussed. Ona’s ability to engage the class with her examples and exercises made for good conversation and interaction among the members of the class. They still continue to talk about it months after her visit.”


Ona is available to visit with your book club via NovelNetwork. Schedule here!