10 Questions with Suspense Writer Russell Blake (@BlakeBooks)

This author spotlight features acclaimed best-selling author Russell Blake.

Russell Blake was named one of the most popular indie novelists of 2012 and is the bestselling author of seventeen novels, including the thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET II - Betrayal and JET III - Vengeance. 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.

Russell is a proud member of RABMAD – Read A Book, Make A difference.

This author spotlight is a focus on Russell's JET series. JET 3 - VENGEANCE (see above) is now available. It is the follow-up to JET (see below)


1. How did you get into writing?
I’ve been a lifelong voracious reader, and one day about a fifteen years ago I woke up and thought, “I could do that.” I tried my hand at a variety of things I was interested in writing, all of which were crap, and eventually I started penning works of fiction. I chucked all the early stuff because it was embarrassingly amateurish, but over time, I noticed that it started sucking less. And eventually, it got to the point where I was willing to show it to a few friends, who were kind, but critical. That convinced me that if I kept at it, I might eventually be able to write something people would be willing to read. Last June, I finally took the plunge and published my first thriller, Fatal Exchange.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I would have to say that the joy of creating whole worlds on paper, and figuring out how to bring the reader into them, is the most gratifying, along with when you nail that one sentence and it sings. The worst thing is what it does to your legs. Sitting for long periods of time is lousy for the anatomy.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I write seven days a week, either a blog, interview, or working on a novel. When I’m writing a novel, I spend 12 hours per day writing, and average seven to eight thousand words a day, if I’ve outlined it. If not, maybe five thousand, as more time is required to figure out what happens next. Nowadays, I do a two to three paragraph outline that is a synopsis of the story, and then about the first fifteen chapter outlines – usually five words or less per chapter so I know what comes next. Then I write.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I think the writer I most admire has to be David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest is a triumph unlike any other, and should be required reading for those who think, “Show, don’t tell” is some sort of a divine commandment. That book, above all others, redefined what writing could be for me, and although my style is very different, it still remains a seminal work. Robert Ludlum is one whose work is closer to mine in style, and the man knew how to write a thriller. He had an amazing career, and justifiably so. Frederick Forsythe is another icon whose work always inspires and humbles. And lately I’ve been reading James Lee Burke, who is brilliant and thoughtful and everything I aspire to be in terms of his descriptions and use of language.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Outside. I tend to go with the American convention – commas and periods inside no matter what, question marks logically. If the question mark isn’t part of the quotation being cited, then logically it belongs outside. Although I get into pissing contests with my editor, who is a Brit, as they tend to place periods and commas logically, not monolithically, within or without.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
Ah, the good old serial comma. I think it’s valuable and should be used. Reduces ambiguity and follows the natural cadence of speech. I know there’s a movement to reduce its use, but it’s misguided.

7. What is your book JET about and how did it come to fruition?
While I was writing Silver Justice, which features a no-nonsense female FBI agent protagonist, I started thinking about writing a more over-the-top female protag – sort of a female Jack Bauer crossed with James Bond. Fantastical, large-than-life, nearly bulletproof and invisible. Pure, escapist action thriller fun, with an exotic heroine that you could cheer on, but who also had intriguing depth and flaws. The idea presented itself as “Kill Bill meets Bourne.” And I wanted it to be the fastest-paced book I, or anyone, had ever read. Non-stop. Relentless from the first paragraphs. Tall order, but I am told that the result speaks for itself.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I’m getting ready to start the fourth in the JET series, then the fifth in my Assassin series. Both will released by year’s end. Next year, only four novels. No more. Unless it’s five. But I’m going to shoot for only four.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
None. I can’t read while I’m writing. It tends to color my work too much. And since all I’ve been doing is writing lately, I haven’t had much chance to read. Last book I really, really liked was RS Guthrie’s “Blood Land.” Masterful indie writer with a bright future. Before that, I read Simon Royle’s Bangkok Burn, which was a fun romp in an exotic locale.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
Mostly, pride of craft. We are all still learning as we write – I don’t care how many thousands of hours we’ve amassed – and it’s that desire to achieve personal bests that keeps me at it, tapping away. I suppose the good news is that you get better at it as you progress. The bad news is you never get quite good enough to be satisfied, if you’re like me. Goes with the territory of trying to improve, I guess.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also specify where readers can learn more about you, buy your books, etc.
Ryan, thanks so much for having me on to prattle about my scribbling. Readers can find my 19 novels at my author page on Amazon, and can read my thoughts and musings, such as they are, at my blog, at http://RussellBlake.com.

Thanks, Russell. I thoroughly enjoyed JET and look forward to reading further installments.

Come and visit with us again when JET 4 is ready!

Be sure to check out Russell's books on Amazon or his website. The JET series could be the next Jack Ryan series.


  1. Russell is amazing! I can't believe anyone can write so many good books in such a short time


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