RUSSELL BLAKE: JET SERIES STARTED AS A CROSS BETWEEN JAMES BOND AND KILL BILL
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
The absolute champion in producing action thrillers is Russell Blake. Recently he passed the master mark of 1 million sales. His Jet series became one of the favorite books for genre’s fans. Russell is living in Mexico and has a new adventure project ahead of him. Let’s say welcome to the one and only Mr. Blake!
– Russell, few days ago you published the next part of JET series: Ops Files II: Terror Alert. What will the readers find inside?
– The JET Ops Files series chronicles Maya/Jet’s early years with the Mossad as an active agent, before she became the super-assassin known as Jet. In this installment, she must unravel a terrorist threat as a group of extremists plans to detonate a dirty bomb in a UK sporting arena.
– How did you decide to write the JET series story?
– I had an idea for a female James Bond crossed with Tarantino’s Kill Bill character, and wanted to do something different with action adventure than I’d seen of late. So I started with a Perils of Pauline overall plot concept, where “they’re trying to get Jet!” and just ran with it from there. Over time, it took on a life of its own.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process of all the books in the series?
– Keeping the names and storylines straight after putting them aside for months to write other stuff. And developing the characters over time so more is revealed about their motivations and personalities and they seem fully formed and three dimensional.
– Tell us something more about your main characters? Are they 100% fiction or it’s close to someone from your real life?
– Jet is an ex-spy, a clandestine operative who specialized in the most difficult missions for the Mossad, and who faked her death to get out of the life. She’s ruthless, superhuman, but also relatable. She’s 100% fiction. At least I hope so, although I know some folks from my misspent youth who are dangerously close to her in too many ways to comfortably consider.
– How much time you need to finish a book and to publish it?
– It takes me roughly 200 hours for a first draft, 100 for a second, 50 for a third. Then I have two editors go over it, which takes around a month, and then a proofreader, which takes a week. I have the covers designed concurrently. I think my publishing schedule has averaged one book every five or six weeks for the last 4 years.
– You are starting a new project with Ramsey’s Gold (Drake Ramsey Book 1). Give us some insight about the novel, which will be released on May 29?
– Ramsey’s Gold is a return to old school-style action adventure novels like those from the seventies and eighties, with treasure to be found, evil villains obstructing our hero, danger, suspense, and twists on every page. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark and you won’t be too far off. I always loved the Cussler Dirk Pitt books, and James Rollins, and Steve Berry, so this is right up that alley. It’s a breakneck race for the treasure through the Amazon rainforest, as a reluctant hero discovers his true colors while battling adversity to carry on his father’s legacy.
– Who are you?
– Ha! I’ll let you know when I figure that one out. Best to just leave it at that I’m a retired entrepreneur living in Mexico who took up writing after closing down my Baja architectural and homebuilding business.
– What are your writing habits?
– I wake up, eat breakfast and have coffee, and then write for four hours. Break for lunch, then write for four more. Dinner, then four more. Seven days a week when I’m in a novel.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the books?
– My sales have surpassed my wildest expectations. I want to say I crossed my 1 million books sold mark a little while ago. That’s pretty amazing. Hit The NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists. Have had my work translated into German, Spanish, Czech, and…Bulgarian! I’ve even been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and in The Times, Forbes, Huffington, The Chicago Tribune… overall, I can’t complain. I’ve been very fortunate.
– Do you have plans for your next novel?
– Ha again! Of course! I’m finishing up the next in the JET series, then doing an outline for a dystopian trilogy that’s basically Romeo & Juliet meets Road Warrior, then the next in the Ramsey’s Gold series, then a BLACK novel, then the final Assassin novel, and then another Ops Files novel… so yes, this year will be a busy one.
– What are you doing to promote the best possible way your books?
– I run a Bookbub every month, and release every five to six weeks, which keeps me on the Hot New Releases lists. I also have several free books – JET – Ops Files, Night of the Assassin, and as R.E. Blake, Less Than Nothing. Other than that it’s largely word of mouth.
– You wrote 40 books in 43 months…. Pretty impressive. What is your secret to combine fast production with great quality?
– 12 hour workdays and a constant drive to improve my craft. And of course, a little fear, greed, and desperation as motivators.
– Tell us more about your common work with Clive Cussler. How you both ended working together and what is your writing routine?
– I approached Clive’s agent and suggested we might be able to make beautiful music together. Clive read five or six of my novels, and felt there was a good fit, so we gave it a try with The Eye of Heaven, which sold well and was well received. Our second novel, The Solomon Curse, releases Sept, 2015. The writing routine is a ton of back and forth after we’ve hammered out a plot we like.
– Why you decide to move to Mexico?
– Blue water, warm weather, cold beer, friendly natives. A relaxed lifestyle in an idyllic clime. It has a lot to recommend it.
– What’s next for you?
– Well, 2015 will be the last year of insane productivity. Next year I slow it to 4 novels a year, and maybe dip my toe in romance, which I’ve been threatening to do for years. My agent’s talking to Hollywood about the JET series, so anything can happen. But I really enjoy the process of crafting a story and seeing it come to life, so I’ll be writing for as long as I can see a keyboard. It’s too much fun not to.