Sunday, 8 January 2012
Interview with Russell Blake
I am delighted to introduce Russell Blake, international bestselling author of hits including Fatal Exchange, the Zero Sum trilogy and King of Swords, to name but a few.
Russell lives on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where he spends his time writing, fishing, collecting & drinking tequila, and playing with his dogs.
He is also a proud member of RABMAD (Read A Book, Make A Difference), a site dedicated to authors sharing their profits with worthy causes.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was a forgettable non-fiction idiocy I wisely hurled into the garbage, and I think drinking had something to do with the inspiration. But it gave me a taste of sculpting language to create tapestries of images, and that got me interested in trying my hand at fiction. I mainly read thrillers, so when I sat down to write my first fiction book, it was naturally in that genre. Fatal Exchange was driven by a desire to do several things - first, experiment with a writing style that was percussive; short, high-velocity chapters that are the literary equivalent of a season of "24." Second, to weave two completely disparate stories along until they dovetail and resolve. Third, to base the entire thing around a completely plausible conspiracy. And finally, to create scenes, specifically the torture scenes, that would make readers squirm - to get their attention, and to demonstrate that language, used effectively, can evoke powerful emotions and imagery. The result was Fatal Exchange.
What made you choose a female protagonist for Fatal Exchange?
It really never occurred to me not to write her as female. I generally get my story ideas as single sentence bursts. This one was, "Hot NY female bike messenger stalked by serial killer and foreign government." From that, I needed to figure out why the rogue state was hunting her, and who the serial killer was, and why he was targeting bike messengers. It made it much easier for him to target females given that so many of those types of predators do. And I thought it was interesting to create an outwardly strong, yet inwardly conflicted character who is constantly having to make difficult moral choices as her life is in danger. Not to pat myself on the back, but I think it holds together well, and the readers seem to like it, so all's well...
If you had to name the best book you’ve read, what would it be?
In the thriller realm, it would have to be Day of the Jackal. Just a game-changer of a book, given that when it came out thrillers were largely of the Ian Fleming, cartoonish spy sort. Jackal brought reality into the genre, and changed everything, and it also introduced the concept of the protag who is not only fallible, but borderline forgettable and weak, who still prevails over a larger-than-life evil. Silence of the Lambs would have to come close second. Best book ever would have to be David Foster Wallace's masterpiece, Infinite Jest. Just broke every rule I can think of, and fascinates with every sentence.
Have any of your books been based on real-life experiences?
Boy. Don't want to let the cat out of the bag here. Let's just say that there's some real-life experiences in every novel I've written so far, although I have never been a contract killer or a Mexican police officer or a female bike messenger.
In order to become a successful writer you need to get your book into the hands of readers. Which method of marketing has served you best?
I think social media like Twitter has been instrumental in establishing my brand, if you will, as an acerbic, smart, hopefully funny writer with a different take on many things. Doing free books has worked nicely, and gets the work into many hands, so that's something I plan to do more of.
Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest?
I'm ashamed to say that I haven't had much time to read over the last six months due to my writing schedule, but I've discovered several I like. David Lender, because I enjoy financial system thrillers, Steve Konkoly, because he creates atmospheric thrillers that appeal to me, and Gae Lynn Woods, whose first novel took me by surprise at how well written it was. But there are doubtless many I should read, and intend to, but I'm still so backed up on workload it may be months before I get down time.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I'm finishing up my first attempt at a Clive Cussler/Dan Brown type treasure hunt novel with my usual conspiracy/action styling, called The Voynich Cipher, which is actually a sequel to the Zero Sum trilogy of Wall St. thrillers, in that it uses Dr. Steven Cross from those books as the protag. The short pitch is "the world's greatest secret is contained in the pages of the most enigmatic document ever written." The Voynich Manuscript is real, and was written in 1440 or so, entirely in an encrypted code that has resisted all attempts to break it. Consensus is that it's not a fraud given the distribution of the glyphs, which are far too complicated for a hoax language, and yet it's confounded cryptologists for eons. It's now housed at Yale, where it is the biggest draw in their rare book library. It's fascinating because nobody knows what it actually says, and yet it's clearly the genuine article - so it's a lasting mystery. I thought it was an interesting basis for a novel - what if Cross was able to decrypt it, and it held a terrible secret that could change the world forever?
Who designed the covers for your books?
I have a wonderful, inexpensive designer who works for a book publisher, but moonlights. I can't say his/her name, but I can send anyone interested the e-mail for contact. I've been totally happy with the over a dozen covers so far, and everyone I've referred has also been happy, so I can do so with complete confidence and sincerity. Anyone interest should give me a shout at Books (at) RussellBlake (dot) com and I'll hook you up. I don't mind helping out fellow indie authors - we need all the help we can get. It's a tough road, and great editing and covers improve one's odds of making it, I think.
I would like to thank Russell so much for taking time from his heavy writing schedule to share his thoughts with us. For those of you not yet familiar with Russell’s work I can highly recommend his critically-acclaimed assassination thriller, King of Swords:
King of Swords is an epic assassination thriller framed against a gritty backdrop of brutal drug cartel violence in modern Mexico.
The G-20 Financial Summit is planned for San Jose Del Cabo. The world's pre-eminent finance ministers will attend, along with the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico.
Captain Romero Cruz of the Mexican Federal Police uncovers an assassination plot against the attendees. In a roller-coaster race against the clock, Cruz must track and stop El Rey, the "King of Swords" – a faceless super-assassin responsible for a string of the world's most spectacular killings, before he turns the G-20 into a slaughterhouse.
King of Swords is an intelligent, rule-breaking rush that shatters convention to create a richly-drawn story that's sure to shock and delight even the most jaded intrigue/adventure thriller fans.
You can find all of Russell’s books on his blog: http://russellblake.com/
Posted by jambalian at 08:58