Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prolific Phenomenal Author: Russell Blake!!! #AuthorInterview

Rachelle: Silver Justice is what, your 14th novel?

Russell: Depends on how you count 'em. If you consider that Zero Sum was originally a trilogy before I grouped the three books into one, then it is number 16. If you count Zero Sum as one reeeeeaaaalllly long book, then it's number 14.

Rachelle: That's an incredible body of work. And you told me you only started publishing June, 2011? What's your secret?

Russell: Desperation and desire, in equal parts. Seriously, I told myself I would do this balls out, 15 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a year, to see what I could accomplish if I applied myself with no distractions. Frankly, it's even amazed me a little. Since January, I've released The Voynich Cypher, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, and now Silver Justice. Last year was a watershed year for me, and I am unlikely to ever match it - I committed to myself that I would release 7 novels in 2012 instead of, like, 10 in 2011, and I think that's a little saner. Next year I'll only be doing 3 or 4. Likely only 3. One every 4 months, to give me some time to have a life in between writing.

Rachelle: 7-10 novels a year? 15 hour days? For real? How do you sustain that?

Russell: Fueled by tequila and ideas. But it is really unhealthy, in that I'm sitting in one place from 7 or 8 in the morning till 11 or 12 at night, with only an hour break to hit the gym, and grabbing some food at my desk. So it isn't something sustainable. But if you think of 12 of those 15 hours as productive, and you figure I can write 800 or so words per hour, you can see where a daily word goal of 7500 words is achievable. Even with distractions, that makes for a first draft of a novel within a couple to three weeks, tops. Then it's back to polish and rewrite.

Rachelle: How many passes do you typically do on a novel?

Russell: I'm doing more now than I used to, because I find the end product is way easier on my editor with more passes, and I'm happier with the way the stories are coming out. I'll do a first draft, put it aside for a week or two, then do a second draft, then go back and do a third/polish. Then the editor gets it, and then the copy editor, then finally the proofreader. I still get an occasional typo even with all that, but I've found that reading the third draft on my kindle changes the experience for me and I catch a lot more. It's labor and time intensive, but I think the quality of the work has benefited and speaks for itself.

Rachelle: So Silver Justice. The synopsis describes it as a single mom FBI agent heading up a taskforce to catch a serial killer, framed against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis.

Russell: That's right. It's a character driven police procedural/thriller that follows a strong female protagonist - Agent Silver Cassidy - who is running the task force that is hunting a serial who is killing financial industry bigwigs. It's set in New York, present day, and is very different than any of my other novels, in the sense that the lead character is a departure for me. I wanted to give readers a three dimensional set of characters that come alive the moment you start reading. And I wanted to plunge the characters into a pressure cooker scenario where the challenges keep coming until it's an unbearable load. Silver is an ass-kicker of a federal agent, but she's also a mom, and a sentient being, with doubts, insecurities, responsibilities, good as well as poor choices in her past, and a drive to succeed in a tough, male-dominated career environment. I think the end result is a racing read that also challenges the reader's sense of reality - it posits a chillingly plausible explanation for the 2008 financial crisis that I guarantee will polarize people. I won't say how much is real and how much is fiction, but I also won't hide that I did a mountain of research, and the underlying conspiracy is based largely in fact.

Rachelle: Only a man would refer to an emotional female as a sentient being, LOL. Sounds interesting. How technical is it? Will readers need an economics degree?

Russell: Not very technical. Part of the challenge was to impart a meaningful amount of information about how the economy works without sounding like a first year college course. I actually cut around 15K words, most of it technical, and fought to synthesize everything into a few meaningful paragraphs here and there. That was the hardest part writing this book. It's not hard to say something in 15K words. It's really hard to say it in 500. Brevity being the soul of wit and all. The book is intended for casual readers who want something more substantial than the typical mindless fare. Not that there's anything wrong with that - I just aspire to write something a bit more involved. Although I like mindless. It has its place. But if you can move the pace along in a blistering manner and address some big issues in the process, and get readers to think, that's a tougher nut to crack, but also a more satisfying read. I think Silver Justice, more than any book I've written to date, will divide readers. They will either love it or hate it because of the underlying conspiracy. As a thriller, though, it's in the same mold as any of the big names. It won't disappoint pure adrenaline junkies, either.

Rachelle: I'll be adding it to my TBR list. What's next for you? Sounds like you better get writing. Year's more than half over!

Russell: I feel that pressure every day, trust me. Next will be JET, about a Mossad operative who fakes her own death to get out of the game - but now her past is coming back to haunt her. I don't really have much more than the name and high concept - I envision a cross between La Femme Nikita and Salt, with some Dragon Tattoo thrown in. I want her to be the world's deadliest operative, up against insurmountable odds and a villain with global reach. Sounds like I need to start plotting, huh? I'll start on it within a week or so, and I'm really excited at the premise and concept. Probably an early fall release for that. If all goes well.

Rachelle: Are you planning to write a sequel to Silver Justice?

Russell: I try not to think in terms of writing sequels. I tend to just write what interests me. Having said that, I do have an idea I have penciled out with Silver as the protag, so one never knows. Let's see how reaction to the book is. The reader is boss, and if people want it, I'll write it. In the end, though, I think Silver is a fascinating character with a lot of depth who we could hear more from.

Rachelle: Going back to JET, I love the premise of a Mossad operative, seeing how interested I am in the nation of Israel. What is her name? Michal? (hint, hint) Physical description? I can see her now, a combination of a Jewish princess and Lara Croft?

Russell: Her operational name was Jet, real name Maya. She's late twenties, medium height, long black hair, exotic good looks. Father was Israeli, mother was from the Dominican Republic, so she's sort of a mix of different ethnicities. Think the world's most effective assassin/clandestine operative, master of covert ops, Krav Maga and several other martial arts, computer wiz, speaks six languages, adept at disguises and is an adrenaline junkie. Very definitely Lara Croft, but she could kick Lara's ass. Completely different than Silver, she's a kind of alpha female on the run who's been targeted for execution by enemies from her past, and she has to go back into the life she abandoned to bring the hunt to them. She thought she was dead inside emotionally due to childhood trauma and later her work, but that all changed when she found out she was pregnant, triggering her to want out of the Mossad - but this was a team you don't just quit. I'm going to write it as a balls out adrenaline rush of a book so that it keeps readers up at night, moving from Venezuela to the Middle East to Africa to Central America. I want it to make the Bourne stuff to seem like Bronte. I'm very excited by the story possibilities, and I can promise twist after twist - this very definitely won't be your parents' thriller. Now all I need is the part between where it starts, and when it ends, and I'll be set.

Rachelle: I definitely want to read this one. I'll still think of her as a Michal, but I can see how Maya fits in with her Central American side. Sounds like you've got it all planned out. Well, thanks for visiting with us and I am sure JET will be another blockbuster.

Russell: You're welcome. I definitely hope so!
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Russell Blake is the bestselling author of the thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, the Zero Sum trilogy (Wall St. thriller), King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher and Silver Justice. 

Non-fiction includes the international bestseller An Angel With Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related. 

Blake lives in Mexico and enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns. 

His blog can be found at where he publishes his periodic thoughts, such as they are.  

1 comment:

  1. Hey Russell! You're truly an inspiration. I cannot imagine even two books a year. Good luck and I look forward to Maya's story.