Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blog Tour Thursday with my Guest Russell Blake

I'd like to welcome Russell Blake to my blog today.  He is the author of several novels, including his latest: King of Swords, which is FREE if you are a member of Amazon Prime and only $3.99 if you ae not.  I invited him here today to tell you all more about it.


King of Swords is an epic assassination thriller framed against a gritty backdrop of brutal drug cartel violence in modern Mexico.

The G-20 Financial Summit is planned for San Jose Del Cabo. The world's pre-eminent finance ministers will attend, along with the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico. Captain Romero Cruz of the Mexican Federal Police uncovers an assassination plot against the attendees. In a roller-coaster race against the clock, Cruz must track and stop El Rey, the "King of Swords" – a faceless super-assassin responsible for a string of the world's most spectacular killings, before he turns the G-20 into a slaughterhouse.

King of Swords is an intelligent, rule-breaking rush that shatters convention to create a richly-drawn story that's sure to shock and delight even the most jaded intrigue/adventure thriller fans.

Tell me about yourself, how you became to be a writer, and why you are a writer. 
I've been reading since the dawn of time, and when I retired I decided to try my hand at writing, having been a big admirer of wordsmiths like David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon. I was fortunate enough to be able to do so 8 years ago, and move to Mexico, where I live on the Pacific coast. I've always devoured thrillers - Ludlum, Forsyth, Le Carre, Harris, Grisham, Trevanian. So I naturally decided to write in the genre I know and love. One thing led to another, and by end of 2011 I will have written a dozen novels - two non-fiction, and the rest thrillers in the Ludlum mold. I'm big on international conspiracies in my work, so they all share that element.
Tell me about your novel—what inspired it?
I had just finished my second trilogy, The Delphi Chronicle, which is set in Central America and revolves around the drug trafficking industry, so I had drug cartels on the brain. And living in Mexico, where the cartels kill around eight to ten thousand every year, cartels are in a de facto civil war with the government. I got this idea, literally as I was writing the last words of Delphi, and it was only a single sentence concept: Day of the Jackal in modern Mexico. I thought it would be interesting to explore the cartel operations here, and use it as the framework of an assassination plot. Nothing like it has ever been done, so I decided to explore the idea and flesh it out. That became King of Swords.
How did you choose the title of the novel?
My editor actually suggested it. This is the first time I haven't cooked one up myself. But we had the plot element of the assassin leaving a tarot card at the scene of his hits, so it seemed natural to name it after the card he left - the King of Swords. I was going to call it Night of the Assassin, but when he suggested King of Swords, it resonated with me, and stuck. Not coincidentally, I since wrote a prequel to King, and am going to call it...Night of the Assassin, sort of a play on Night of the Iguana crossed with Day of the Jackal. I just like that title, so I had to write a book to give me an excuse to use it...
What made you choose your particular genre?
I just love reading a well written, erudite thriller. I'm not talking about monosyllabic, formulaic pap. I'm talking the old style thrillers, where it was like eating a nine course meal. Ludlum and Forsyth were the masters at it, as was Trevanian, who was hugely underrated. So I always aspired to create books of that scale - big books that swept across continents and felt epic, but which centered around the evil that governments do, and featuring unlikely protagonists rife with conflicts and imperfections. I think that's one of the things that sets my work apart, other than a certain musicality to the cadence I try to hit in the timing of the sentence structure. I like quirky, imperfect protags that seem real. I just can't stomach another ex-CIA hit man for whom this time it's personal and for whom the ladies swoon. I've written iconoclastic female NY bike messengers (Fatal Exchange), meditating amateur cryptologist investors (Zero Sum trilogy), alcoholic lowlife bureaucrats (The Geronimo Breach), Mexican Federal police captains who carry the world on their shoulders and work in dysfunctional circumstances against impossible odds (King of Swords), failed novelist PIs (The Delphi Chronicle) and sociopathic serial killer hit men (Night of the Assassin).
What’s the next project for you?  Tell the readers about it.
After King, I release Night of the Assassin. Then The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, which is more lyrical than King and Night - those are hyper-velocity blurs, written to race from start to finish. My current WIP is tentatively titled The Voynich Cipher, and is a departure in that it's a treasure hunt book, a la Foucault's Pendulum, only far faster paced, and will feature Dr. Steven Cross from Zero Sum. I expect to have that out Q1, 2012.
What character from your book(s) are you like the most and why?
Wow. Good question. I'd say I'm most similar to Dr. Steven Cross, from Zero Sum.  He has a kind of insatiable intellectual curiosity and a strong ethical grounding - not a lot of moral relativism going on. That would be the guy I'm the most like. Thank God it's not Al Ross from The Geronimo Breach. It was fun writing a lowlife malingering misanthrope, but you wouldn't want to be one...although the hours are good...
 Let’s put the novel aside and talk about YOU for a minute—what are your hobbies and what can’t you live without that’s non-book related?  What do you do when you are not writing?  If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
I rescue animals and nurse them back to health, fish and boat, and collect tequila. Been known to drink it, too. Sort of all part of the Mexican experience. What can't I live without? The internet, good food, great wine, love. Not in that order. If I could live anywhere, I'd probably split my time between where I now live, and Argentina. And maybe Australia part of the year - Melbourne is the world capital of eating and drinking...
If a reader asked you to recommend the three BEST books to read, aside from your own, what would they be?
Another great question. Beyond King of Swords (wink)? Day of the Jackal, A Time To Kill, Infinite Jest, The Three Musketeers, Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, Shibumi, The Magic Mountain, the Bourne trilogy, War & Peace, The Pelican Brief, The Stand, and on and on. There are so many great books. Those are perennial. But don't try Infinite Jest unless you have about a month free...
 If you could have dinner with one author, who would it be?
Living? Probably Steven King. He's the most consistent, prolific guy working today, in my opinion.
Post where you can be found—website, blog, twitter, facebook, etc.  
You can find me on the web and read my ramblings at where I blog and do Author Interviews with writers like Lawrence Block, David Lender and John Lescroart, to name a few. Twitter is @Blakebooks Facebook is
Thanks so much for having me. I hope this affords your readers a glimpse under the curtain, and welcome any questions.


  1. Thanks so much, Cheryl. What great questions, and what a hospitable show of generosity for having me on. Everyone, go buy a bunch of Cheryl's books, right after buying all mine, of course (wink). Night of the Assassin just released today on Amazon, for only .99, so don't be cheapskates or you'll die cold and alone in a ditch with clowns mocking you. Just saying.

  2. Fantastic interview, Cheryl. Your questions drew Russell out and made him more accessible to us, his fans! Much appreciated!

  3. Hi

    I like this post:

    You create good material for community.

    Please keep posting.

    Let me introduce other material that may be good for net community.

    Source: Financial controller KPIs

    Best rgs