Monday, August 20, 2012

Interview with acclaimed thriller writer Russell Blake.

This week I'd like to welcome the acclaimed thriller writer Russell Blake. 
Russell Blake

1. When and why did you decide to become an Indie writer?
About two years ago I saw all the excitement being generated by the acceptance of the Kindle, as well as the (to me) unexplainable success of some of the sensation-generating indie authors of the time, and figured, hey, I’ve been writing for pleasure for years, why not throw my bandana into the ring? I bounced the idea off a couple of friends, who after realizing I was serious and at least somewhat sober at the time, encouraged me, mainly because I think they were wagering about how long it would take for me to quit. I committed to spending one year of my life doing nothing but writing every day as a full time job, and published my first book, Fatal Exchange, in June, 2011. That was followed by 14 more over the following 14 months. Which is, in and of itself, insane, I know. But folks seem to like the work, and I’ve maintained my excitement level over the craft, and am now doing this as my day job, such as it is. I’ve been told it beats flipping burgers, but have to take that on faith. I think per hour the burger gig may have this beat, at least in terms of wages and free uniforms.
2. What genre do you write in and what genre do you prefer to read?  
I’m a thriller fan. Always have been. Raised on Ludlum, Forsyth, Trevanian, then later Harris, Grisham, Le Carre, Baldacci, etc. With two exceptions – forays into non-fiction – I’ve written action/adventure thrillers, although within the genre there is a lot of variation. Some are police procedural thrillers, others are conspiracy thrillers, and still others are classic treasure hunt thrillers a la Cussler or Brown. My latest release, Silver Justice, is part police procedural and part political conspiracy thriller with a serial killer thrown into the mix, so it can be hard to describe my books sometimes. I tend to write whatever interests me at the moment, and it doesn’t always fit in a nice niche. As an author that keeps it interesting for me and keeps me stretching to reinvent myself with each book.

3. Where do you sell most books, USA or UK, Amazon or Barnes and Noble?
Amazon US is 80% of my sales, UK is 20%. Mainly because I’ve been exclusive to Amazon due to the Select requirements until of late, when I stopped putting my new titles into the program. I’ve sold a decent number on Barnes now, but nothing like my Amazon numbers.

4. During your childhood who was your biggest influence?
I’ve blocked out all childhood memories after the traumatic clown incident (which I refuse to discuss publicly, for good reason), so I have no memory of anything prior to high school other than that unspeakable event. The horror never fades.

5. Are you fortunate enough to write full-time?
I don’t know if I’d call it fortunate or not, but yes, it’s what I do, ten to twelve hours a day. I think my output is a function of my OCD nature as well as laziness. Once I’m sitting, it’s easier to write than to get up and do something else, so I’ll write a book to avoid chores or exercise.

6. If Hollywood came knocking who would you want to play your main character?
Wow. I’d say for my Assassin series, Benicio Del Toro for Captain Cruz, and either Depp or Di Caprio as El Rey – or whoever is the younger version of them now. I’d love to have Del Toro read King of Swords. Who am I kidding? I’d love to have anyone read it. But I digress. And seem really clingy and whiny. Which is why my ex left and took the dog. Never mind.

7. Name 6 people, dead or alive, you’d love to have as guests seated around your dinner-table. Probably Vaslav Nijinsky pre-crazy, Hemingway pre-shock treatment, Richard Feynman, Friedrich Nietzsche, David Foster Wallace and Albert Einstein. I think it would be fun to have them forced to listen to me read my work aloud in a trilling brogue while Hemingway and Nijinsky play the Indian knife game and Einstein and Feynman debate the odds of one of them losing a finger, while Wallace and Nietzsche argue moral philosophy in the original German. Everyone can remain clothed.

8. What one piece of advice have you found the most important in your writing career?
To write every day, whether you’re particularly inspired or not, and to attempt to best your best finest every time you put pen to paper – to view it as an opportunity to master your craft and improve. If you write constantly you create an engine of enthusiasm for the craft inside of yourself as well as push the boundaries of your imagination, and if you keep raising your own bar you’ll never become complacent with your art.

9. What are your plans for the coming year?
2013, or the next 12 months? If the next 12 months, I’m finishing up my WIP, JET, about an ex-Mossad operative who fakes her own death to get out of the game – but her past has come back to haunt her. That should release in Sept. Then I will be jumping into a Fatal Exchange sequel tentatively titled Fatal Deception, then another Assassin novel, then a JET sequel and a Silver Justice sequel. That takes me through the end of the year. I’ve been slacking on writing the next Delphi and Steven Cross sequels, so those are slated for next year, with another JET sequel and another Assassin sequel. Of course I reserve the right to increase or decrease my effort based on my boredom level.

10. And finally, if you were stranded on a desert island what 3 books would you choose to have with you?
Infinite Jest, The Magic Mountain and The Holographic Paradigm. If the Holographic Paradigm’s view of reality is correct and every particle contains all information about all other particles (albeit at a less detailed level), as in a holograph, then all books are contained in my thumbnail, as is everything else. But just in case it’s wrong, IJ and Thomas Mann are long enough to take the edge off.

Silver Justice

His thoughts, such as they are, can be found at his blog:
Follow Russell on Twitter: @Blakebooks


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Simon. Always nice to see you around. Actually, always nice to see anyone around...

  2. Hi Russell and MA nice to meet you! I'm so glad I subscribe to (and have one of my own) cause I find new authors.
    Russell, have you ever written in a character you didn't like, but you had to keep them in the story? ~Brenda

  3. Hi Brenda. Sure, I've written plenty I dislike. I think that adds balance to the books - you have the ones you are rooting for, and the ones you wish would choke to death on a chicken bone. I suppose that's why I kill so many of my characters by the end of the books...

  4. You just can't remember your childhood because it's such a long time ago. It's understandable to not be able remember sixty something years ago. You don't have to blame the clowns.
    So you speak German?