When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I started writing over a decade ago, because I had a girlfriend who was a frustrated lit major and who mocked me relentlessly over my dislike of many of the popular authors plying their trade. She taunted me to do better. So I gave it a shot. Turns out it is harder than it looks, but that got me interested in writing. She's gone, but the writing stayed. Which is for the better, I think.


If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

Oh, it would have to be the power to transmute lead into gold. With that, you can just contract out for those with the rest of the spectrum of superpowers. More efficient.

Kev's response:  I like it!  (So long as gold stays valuable....)


Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies? How can you not like Aquaman? I was raised on him. Breathe like a fish. Actually, seemed cooler when How can you not like Aquaman? I was raised on him. Breathe like a fish. Actually, seemed cooler when I was eight. What do you do with being able to breathe like a fish when you're older? What's the retirement package look like? Probably sucks.

Kev's response:  Oh, he can do more than just breathe underwater.  He's extremely strong, and then there's the telepathic command of fish thing....  He's a super-fast swimmer, and can handle great depths as well.


Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

The desire to do better each time. It gets addictive. You improve in your craft as you move forward, and that creates the excitement to make the next one better.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

You know, I've done both, and I sort of swing around. My last few I did seat of the pants, but my next one I am plotting out, because it's too complicated - three different storylines and at least two significant backstories. Some I have plotted (Fatal Exchange, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher) and some winged it (Zero Sum, The Geronimo Breach, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassn). I think the more complicated the story, the more doing an outline makes sense.

Kev's response:  I'm with you there.  I've been doing more pre-plotting lately myself.


Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

When I'm in a book, I write 12-14 hours a day. I'm OCD on writing. I've tried something more sensible, but it doesn't work for me. So right now, I write for two to two and a half weeks, then take a month off where I'm rewriting, editing and polishing. But I try to write every day - at least something - a blog, interview, outline, commentary. If you're a writer, you write.

Kev's response:  Heh.  Same here.  I lock onto the writing, and have to pound it out until it's done.


Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

Definitely action/adventure thrillers. Both to read and write.


What do you enjoy the most about writing?

The way the outside world disappears, and I'm totally immersed in the story and the characters. It's like a window into an alternative reality unlike anything I've experienced with anything else.


Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

Sitting immobilized in one spot for weeks at a time. Not so great for fitness and circulation.

Kev's response:  Try what I do every morning - in between weight lifting sets I jog on the elliptical, and have a computer hooked up on it so I can type/edit while jogging!


Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

You mean besides my lifelong battle against world domination by clowns, or the nude ice dancing thing? No, I'm pretty normal.


Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

One at a time. Start at the beginning, then plow through until done.


In my evil plot to take over the world, do you advise I use highly intelligent, self-motivated minions, or simple ones, and why?

Simple ones. As most governments have discovered, you want minions who are just smart enough to operated the machines, but not smart enough to understand why. Otherwise they tend to want to overthrow you, or at least agitate for fair treatment, which is a drag -what's the point of having minions if you have to be equitable?

Kev's response:  Yup, I already have mine being lined up for shooting!


Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

Paper is to books what vinyl was to music.


What are your current projects?

I'm just finishing up with Return of the Assassin, which is the fourth book in my King of Swords/assassin series, and am launching into a sequel to Fatal Exchange, tentatively titled Fatal Deception.

Kev's response:  Those darn liars!


Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

First, understand that self-publishing is different than writing. Writing is about writing. Self-publishing is about creating a product for sale. So you have to view it as a business, with quality control, production schedules, packaging, marketing, competitive pricing, etc. Many don't bother with pro editing, pro cover design, etc. They try to skip that necessary investment in their product. You can't, and have any expectation of being taken seriously. How could you start a business and not invest anything into creating a compelling, professional product? It won't work. Second, understand your odds of making money at it, which are abysmally low. 99% won't make any money. That's just the way it is. Maybe you'll be the exception, but odds are you won't. If that bothers you, do something else. Virtually anything will make you more money. Having said that, you can increase your likelihood of a good reception by producing a pro product, operating your self-pubbing empire like a real business, and having realistic expectations. On the writing side, once you're done writing the first novel, write the second. Then the third. A growing backlist increases your chances of being noticed - like fishing, the more lines in the water, the likelier you are to attract fish. And write every day, without exception, even if it's only for an hour. If you can generate 500 words in an hour, which you can if you apply yourself, you will accumulate 182K words in a year, or roughly two novels. If you're faster, maybe 250K plus. And if you're insane, like me, you can generate roughly a million words per year. But don't try that at home...


Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

Readers can find me at my blog, http://RussellBlake.com as well as my Amazon author page at http://amzn.to/JjBhwA- and on Twitter by following @Blakebooks. Thanks a million for the opportunity to connect with your readers. It's been a pleasure!