This morning, I told you about best-selling author Russell Blake’s thriller, Night of the Assassin, being free for today only. I asked Russell if he would like to write a guest blog post, and his immediate reply was “Absolutely – I’ll have something to you in a couple of hours!” I think you will enjoy learning a little bit more about Russell and some of the influences on his writing.
It’s always a thrill to meet new readers – people who are just discovering my novels and aren’t sure quite what to expect. My job with this blog is to introduce myself and my work in a few bite-sized nuggets, so with that in mind, here it goes.
My first novel, Fatal Exchange, came out in June, 2011, and was a reviewer’s favorite pick that year with The Kindle Book Review. Since then, I’ve released 17 more novels, and have just put the next installment of my bestselling Assassin series in the can, for release in February. I write action/adventure thrillers, with a smattering of police procedural and conspiracy thrillers seasoning the blend, and I’m fortunate enough that they’ve been well received – in 2012, my books sold over 100,000 copies, not counting at least a half million free downloads, and I’m currently in discussions for one of my novels to be adapted for the silver screen, so it’s been a hell of a year, and I’m hopeful that 2013 raises the bar.
One of my most popular works is the aforementioned Assassin series, which is set in modern Mexico against a brutal backdrop of very real cartel violence. The books, King of Swords, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, and the prequel, Night of the Assassin, chronicle the story of El Rey, the most deadly assassin in the world, and his arch rival, Captain Romero Cruz of the Federal Police (Federales), who must stop him before he can commit unthinkable crimes. Night of the Assassin is free for a limited time, in the hopes that once readers get a taste of the writing style and the characters, they’ll be interested enough to want to read more of my scribbling.
The idea for the Assassin series came to me as I was writing a conspiracy theory thriller trilogy, The Delphi Chronicle, part of which also takes place in Mexico. As I wrote the bits that were south of the border, I started thinking, hey, wouldn’t it be cool to sort of do a Day of the Jackal kind of treatment, but set it present day in one of the most ominous settings I could dream up? I needed to look no further than out my window for inspiration, because I’ve lived in Mexico now for almost a decade, and I’m exposed to the cartel violence every day, as is the rest of the beleaguered nation. It’s a constant no matter where you go, and it claims over 10,000 lives every year, many of them women and children.
So with that in mind, I launched into penning the first book in the series, King of Swords, about the assassin whose calling card is the tarot card the book is named after. The reception was so positive that I next inked Night of the Assassin, as an exploration of how a monster is made – what circumstances had to come together to mold a ruthlessly efficient, cold-blooded killing machine. That question has fascinated me for a long time – is it nature or nurture that creates the world’s predators, and motivates them to pursue their dark deeds? Does circumstance determine how the beast manifests, or is it destiny?
Night is my stab at answering those questions, in a gritty, visceral, unflinching manner. It’s not for the faint of heart or those looking for a light-hearted romp to take to the beach. It’s controversial and dark, and pulls no punches, eschewing political correctness and happy endings for a slice of reality wrapped up in an action thriller package. Response has been overwhelming, with over 100 mostly rave reviews to date, so I managed to strike a chord that has resonated with quite a few readers.
The job of any good fiction author is to transport the reader to a new reality, to take them out of their head and put them smack down in the middle of a different world for a few hours. The best sort of fiction keeps you up far too late into the night and leaves you wanting more when the last page is turned. I strive to write intelligent, thought-provoking fiction that is still an escape, but leaves you with a nagging sense of lingering once it is finished – but what happens now? What’s the rest of the story? What is the next adventure, and what happens to the characters – how will they grow and change, and what do they want more than anything? The best fiction has that effect, and it is my hope that mine evokes that response.
If you, as a reader, can discover a book that does that for you, then you’ve discovered a treasure. If I, as an author, can come even close to transporting you into my admittedly unusual world and immersing you in it, then I’ve done my job – which is the best job in the world, as far as I’m concerned, and one that I couldn’t imagine not doing. My love for the written word and for storytelling is all-encompassing, and I wake up every day enthused about the next adventure, the next scene, the next opportunity to hone my craft and do it all just a little bit better.
I grew up on a steady diet of Forsyth, Ludlum, Harris, Trevanian and Grisham. If you like that style of fiction, you might be interested in my novels. As good a place as anywhere to start would be with Night of the Assassin. I mean, it’s free today, so you can’t beat the price of admission, and one never knows what one will find until one turns the pages and reads a few chapters. There are diamonds out there among all the lumps of coal, and perhaps this will be one of those finds that has you coming back for more. You never know until you try, and with this deal, I’ve tried to make it so you have nothing to lose.
In the end, how do you beat that?
Thanks for taking the time to meet me, and I’m hopeful you find the premise of Night of the Assassin intriguing enough to give it a whirl. Part of my joy as a reader is when I find a new author whose work excites and electrifies me. My hope is that today is your day to find a new one that does the same for you.
Thank you, Russell! I don’t know about you, but I just downloaded Night of the Assassin and will be starting it after I finish what I am reading now. You can check out Russell’s Amazon Author Page if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/russellblake into your web browser, and you can follow his blog (and check out his interesting New Year’s Resolutions) at http://russellblake.com