This time I am talking to author Russell Blake, who is an author of suspense thrillers, as well as a parody of writing/self-publishing self-help books, and an animal biography. He lives on the Pacific coast of Mexico, where he writes, raise his dogs, fishes, rides on a boat, and collects and drinks tequila. He has 12 titles out on Amazon, including The Geronimo Breach, Fatal Exchange, The Zero Sum trilogy of Wall St. thrillers (Kotov Syndrome, Focal Point and Checkmate), Night of the Assassin, King of Swords, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, An Angel with Fur, and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated).
Books & Writing: What got you interested in writing?
Russell Blake: Reading. I have always been a voracious reader. It's through the love of reading that I developed an appreciation of writing, of the use of language, of story and pacing and character development.
Books & Writing: What’s the first story you wrote?
Russell Blake: The first book I released was my biggest seller right now, Fatal Exchange. My first story I wrote in sixth grade, and freaked out my teacher, who didn't appreciate that I was emulating H.P. Lovecraft when asked to write something.
Books & Writing: You have been very busy with writing. Seeing the number of books you have published, how many hours a day or how many words a day do you write?
Russell Blake: I write six to seven days a week when I'm doing it, and generally 10 to 14 hours a day. My approach is to generate 6,000-8,000 words a day of near finish quality first draft, meaning after one polish and rewrite run I can send it off for editing.
Books & Writing: How long does it usually take for you to write a book?
Russell Blake: When motivated, for 100K of thriller, it will take two to three weeks, depending upon how much dialog. The less exposition, i.e. more dialog, the faster it goes.
Books & Writing: Most if not all your books are thrillers. What attracts you in that genre?
Russell Blake: I grew up reading Ludlum, Le Carre, Forsyth, Trevanian, and then later, Grisham, Harris, et al. So when I decided to do this for real, that was the genre I naturally was drawn to. I probably would make a lot more money if I'd chosen historical romance or vampires, but thrillers are what I do.
Books & Writing: You also wrote a satirical non-fiction book called “How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks”. How did you come up with that?
Russell Blake: I was writing The Geronimo Breach, and I read about five different "how to" books on self-publishing at night, and I remember thinking, "what pure BS." And when I first got on Twitter, most of the tweets were self-important aphorisms, or "buy my book" tweets. So over the week of the Fourth of July, I just sat down and wrote a stream-of-consciousness parody of all of it - the whole thing. I was originally going to just write a blog, but it kept going until I had a real book. Sometimes that happens with me.
Books & Writing: I see you also wrote your first short story “Soul Balm”. Can you tell us something about the story?
Russell Blake: I wanted to try my hand at something absurdist, that was rich with language and style, but surrealistic. Sort of Chuck P meets Hunter S. Thompson with Thomas Pynchon over drinks. And I wanted there to be a chimp. That was all I knew when I started writing.
Books & Writing: Are you working on something new at the moment?
Russell Blake: I'm in the polish stage of my next one, The Voynich Cipher, which is a departure for me - sort of Clive Cussler meets Dan Brown with some Steig Larrson mixed in, minus the shopping trips to Ikea and the pan pizza exposition. It's based on an actual document, the Voynich Manuscript, which is on display at Yale's rare book museum, and is 240 pages of Medieval text and illustration written in an encrypted language that nobody's ever been able to decrypt. I thought that made for an interesting romp, and the result is unlike anything I've written so far. Hopefully it will find an audience.
Books & Writing: What’s the last book you read?
Russell Blake: I just finished David Lender's Vaccine Nation. I've got about 7 books piled up on my kindle, and as soon a I finish rewrite on Voynich I'm hoping I can get to some of them.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Russell Blake: My books are all on Amazon, including the international sites. You can read excerpts of all of them there. If folks want a good peek at what I do, I'd say read the previews there of King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, or The Delphi Chronicle. King, especially, should answer any questions within the first ten pages.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?
Russell Blake: My blog is http://RussellBlake.com. Or look me up on Facebook. Or on Twitter - my handle is @Blakebooks.
Books & Writing: Which writer(s) inspires you?
Russell Blake: Frederick Forsyth, Ludlum, Stephen King, David Foster Wallace, Elmore Leonard, Thomas Mann, Strunk & White.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Russell Blake: I've said it a million times. Write because you love it, make sure what you put out is the very best you can do, don't rush it out the door. Set yourself a writing schedule and stick to it. Whether an hour a day, or five, make it sustainable, and do it. Once you've written your book, polish and rewrite until it can't get any better, then hire a pro editor and proofreader. Take your craft seriously, or nobody else will. And have fun with it. Nobody's forcing you to do this.
Books & Writing: Thanks Russell for answering the questions!
Check out some of his books on Amazon below!