01 June 2013 by Published in: Uncategorized 19 comments

I was arm wrestling a Cajun bare-knuckle brawler at the bar last night after winning a lightning round of the Indian knife game against a mute prospector named Poncho, and a thought came to me as I wiped beads of sweat from my forehead with the grimy back of my free hand.


NEWS: A brilliant new book review and interview on THE GERONIMO BREACH with Simon Jenner. Worth a quick read!

“Gator,” I asked (his name was Gator, which was fitting given his bulk and general wash-and-wear demeanor, ‘Bear’ having been previously claimed by a spectacularly hirsute midget quaffing Chinaco with a gin chaser over by the stuffed burro), “do you think I could learn to have a more sane approach to writing than my OCD, all-in process? Something more like three hours a day in the mornings, and then more of a life with the remainder of my time?”

His battered brow furrowed from the strain of tackling my daunting prowess, and I could see him searching the scarred wooden bar top for answers.

“Your process is essential to your craft, right? I mean, you write like that because it’s what works best for you – for your desired outcome. It’s not because you’re under any deadline that isn’t entirely self-enforced, is it?”

I grunted and palmed one of the oversized shot glasses filled with meanstreak, and threw back the burning liquid as my gaze roved over the knife scar that ran from his left temple to his jaw, the white gash pulsing pink from the exertion of trying to win the five hundred pesos that hung in the balance, a fitting tribute in a contest of cunning and strength.

“But wouldn’t it be healthier to create in a less intense manner? More relaxed?” I asked, then twisted to add some heft to my domination of his trembling appendage, the prison tattoos on his forearm rippling from strain as lactic acid seared through his fatigued muscles.

“I think everyone’s approach is different, and as long as the final product is worthwhile to its creator and its reader, the approach is valid. Notions of right or wrong, or appropriate or not, are arbitrary and meaningless in anything but the abstract. Whatever’s right for you is just how you roll,” he hissed, glaring at me with his good eye.

Ignoring the affirmation, I saw my opportunity – a brief hesitation, a twitch of his ravaged countenance, a small but telling flinch I’d been awaiting. “Time to die, bitch,” I snarled, and heaved with a Herculean effort. His radius and ulna snapped with an audible pop and the blood drained from his face as he slipped into shock and lost consciousness, his last bleak impression my chortling face mocking him for his weakness, his inferiority in this manly exchange; the price for being found wanting a steep one. I stood, the bar cheering as yet another pretender to the throne was hauled away like yesterday’s empties, and nodded in mute acknowledgement as I scooped up the money and downed Gator’s shot, the lights of the working refrigerator’s Pacifico sign glinting giddily off the corrugated steel roof.

“He won’t be needing that,” I said to Conchita, the comely cocktail waitress who’d been admiring me with hungry glances all evening, my lime green man thong confidently in place as her greedy eyes caressed me. Emilio, my chimp companion, did a gratuitous back-flip on the bar top to hoots of approval as coils of anthracite smoke swirled from cigars brandished in triumph by my supporters, their greasy fistfulls of cash waved to an indifferent heaven in triumph.

The calls of “Russell” and “El Toro Bravo” followed me from the cantina as I made my unsteady way home, the dissonant melody of mariachi horns lingering on the warm breeze like a favorite lover’s scent, Gator’s truth reverberating in my consciousness like a really loud clanging somewhere kind of echoey, and I thought, perhaps he knew something after all. Emilio’s simian gait matched mine as we stumbled down the dusty road to our dwelling, the heavy clump of my work boots on dirt muffled accompaniment to his snuffling, the occasional baring of his canine incisors all the congratulations I required as an orange harvest moon scowled from between streaks of clouds in the inky night sky.

Back to work on BLACK, the first installment in my Hollywood detective novel, I resolved, the 20K word mark having passed beneath my bow earlier in the day. No rest for the wicked. My latest WIP, Upon a Pale Horse, which is a mindf#ck of a bio-thriller, had been put to bed, hopefully for release by month’s end, and these childish flirtations in the shadows of derelict watering holes were no way to occupy my time. There were novels to write, stories to tell, damn it, and I was just the broken-down carny barker to coax them into being, even if I did keep odd hours and occasionally burst into inappropriate bawdy song (the curse of being Irish and having a lovely singing voice).

Anyway, that’s how my weekend went. In case you were wondering.



  1. Sat 01st Jun 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Your intensity is part of your charm. You wouldn’t want to lose that. Your stories would suffer. And as an avid reader of your books I don’t want that to happen.

    I didn’t know you were Irish. Cool. Me too. But only half Irish. Other half Hungarian gypsy. Save the fortune teller jokes. I’m already pissed at those people. 🙂

  2. Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 9:32 am

    Beautifully told. Enjoyed it. We are who we are.

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 10:04 pm

      Gracias. Indeed. Iyam what Iyam.

  3. yoon
    Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 11:06 am

    Your CHIMP companion? Chimp? WTF.

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 12:09 pm

      It was intended metaphorically, and for absurdist value.

      WTF indeed.

      • yoon  –  Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 12:21 pm

        Never mind. I’m not an idiot.

        • Russell Blake  –  Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 4:14 pm

          No, despite your choice of reading material, you clearly are not. A drunkard, perhaps. We all have weaknesses. Don’t judge…

  4. Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Heck, if your pots are as good as this you must write some fantastic books. No, don’t respond to that it was rhetorical. Very entertaining.

  5. Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 10:10 pm

    My first love, no, my second-my first being my cousin– was a charming black Irish lad with hypnotic Blue Eyes. No, he did not charm the pants off me, being a good Catholic girl.
    Bars and arm wrestling, and writing all night. And Harvest moons in Mexico. Perfect.

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 10:40 pm

      They wore dresses, back in the day. Just saying.

      And yes it is. Perfect. Hard to hate my life some nights…

  6. Ron
    Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 10:24 pm

    As I started to read about your “Last Night” …I thought, “there has to be a midget in here somewhere”.
    Then LOL, in the second paragraph…

    Well done…well done, sir.

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Without a chimp and a hirsute midget named Bear, there would be no there there.

  7. Mon 03rd Jun 2013 at 6:53 am

    I knew you were Irish!

  8. Wed 05th Jun 2013 at 3:06 am

    Hee, hee, hee. Thanks for that.

  9. Robert Jones
    Wed 05th Jun 2013 at 12:17 pm


    Very much looking forward to UPH. How you manage to keep rockin’ the ideas and maintaining your pace is, well…inhuman. That’s right folks, you’ve heard it here first. Russell Blake is officially an alien/human hybrid. At least until I figure out a better explanation 😉

    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 05th Jun 2013 at 12:24 pm

      I find that a liberal combination of plagiarism and being derivative works small miracles. Add two parts desperation to one part fear and greed and you have my secret cocktail. So far so good. Still need to find the time to write 50 Shades of Yarn For Mr. Mittens, though. That’s going to be my breakthrough book. You’ll see. You’ll all see. You may be laughing now, but I’ll have the last laugh! Ha! HA HA! MR. MITTENS!!!!

      Sorry. Ahem.

  10. Linda Magana
    Thu 13th Jun 2013 at 3:11 pm

    I have just finished reading the Jet series as was enthralled. Love your characters.

    I’ve been living in central Mexico for almost 21 years and I know what you mean about “having enough”. If I get more, great, if I don’t, that’s ok too. When people ask me what I “do”, I tell them I’m so busy doing nothing that I don’t have time to do anything else.

    You’re a master…keep it up.

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 13th Jun 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks, Linda. Glad you enjoyed JET. Might want to have a look at King of Swords. It will seem quite familiar.


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