Interview with Derek Blass

Derek Blass

Interview Date: 5/24/2012


Derek Blass is an author and attorney in Denver, Colorado. He graduated from Duke University and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He is married and has two uncontrollably terrible dogs (and one good one that isn't really his). Enemy in Blue is his debut novel.

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

•First, I wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to do this interview with you, Kevin. I started writing when I was young, probably around thirteen years old. However, I didn't start writing in earnest until I started my first book. (Earnest with discipline!) The significant events that prompted me to write my first book actually arose where I live, in Denver, Colorado. From 2002 on, we had a series of incidents of police brutality. They involved members of both the African-American and Latino/a communities. I was involved in community meetings surrounding the cases, and in organizing responses. My sense of justice is what catalyzed me to write my first book, Enemy in Blue.

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

•Innnnteresting. I'm actually sitting here contemplating this. Is living forever a superpower? Would like that one. If not, I would like to be able to transform into any other living object in the world. That would be pretty useful!

Kev's response: When I was in my late teens and twenties, I would have loved the idea of living forever. Now, I can't help but think about what would happen if we never developed space travel, the earth blows up in billions of years ... and you float around in space for billions more. Yuck!

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

•I don't in particular, because I never got into any single series. However, the world (Xanth) that Piers Anthony created in his novels was my favorite place to go when I was younger.

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

•Social justice issues motivate me greatly. Whatever side, whatever political tendency, I do not like when anyone is treated unfairly. So, police brutality motivated me. For my second book, Allegiance, issues on the U.S./Mexico border motivated me. But, good entertainment also motivates me greatly. So, I have worked to mix the two in the hope of getting people to think, but also to entertain them while they do so.

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

•With my first two books, I knew the ending I wanted, and I simply let the characters get me there. I did not plot, and don't really consider myself a plotter. However, I am finding that with my third book (which has new characters), I may need to do some plotting. The characters aren't as vocal to me yet ;)

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

•In my opinion, writing has to be a discipline just like any other effort. If you wait until you are inspired, you won't be doing much writing, particularly if you have a full-time life/job.

Kev's response: Here here! (Why do people say "Here here," anyway? I mean, we're already here. It should be "Yeah, yeah!")

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

•I have a strange mix of interests. I frequently like to read philosophy, and much of that reading has shaped my perceptions of the world. I have a favorite author, Don Delillo, who writes in a social commentary type of way. So, those two actually overlap. Then, when I like to "dumb it down," I love thrillers. Slow books rarely keep my attention.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

•When you can close your eyes, and your characters basically move your fingers across the keyboard, there's nothing better. It is transformative and spiritual.

Kev's response: Aye, my favorite writing happens when I'm just documenting what I see in my mind's eye.

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

•Editing. No doubt the worst part, in my opinion. Once I "finish" something, I'm ready to move on to the next project. I have had to get used to being patient with my own work, and taking the appropriate amount of time to edit. After all, it was Hemingway that said the first draft of anything is shit.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

•I'm actually much goofier than I let on, but I will keep the depth of that between my wife and I :)

Kev's response: So ... she's your secret keeper.... Mwahahaha! Now we know who to talk to!

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

•One story at a time. I have multiple ideas at one time, but I am of the belief that I need to finish one project at a time. It is too distracting to have multiple projects going on concurrently.

In my evil plot to take over the world, what one animal type do you advise I use and why?

•Something where you can gather information. So, a talking fly is what I would recommend. Get on that.

Kev's response: I'd need a lot of them. I think they'd go hoarse from shouting loud enough for me to hear them. Or ... I could get horse flies!

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

•I think paperbacks are largely a dying breed. I don't think e-books will ever substitute for the tactile experience of holding a book. At least not for me, and not in my generation or generations that preceded mine. However, I suspect that future generations will be more and more digital, which means less and less paperbacks. That is a sad comment to make, but technology does not pause for emotion.

What are your current projects?

•I'm working on another novel, that departs from the characters of my first two novels. It is a full on legal drama/thriller, and will have a bit less action than my first two books. That scares me a bit, quite honestly, but I'm going to give it a shot :)

Kev's response: You'll never know until you try. Go for it.

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

•I have tons of advice, and most of it is in my 50+ posts on my blog at It would be too difficult to summarize in this interview. A few of the top tips, though, with respect to indie publishing (let's change the "self" to "indie," is my suggestion to all of us): (a) writing is the easy part, marketing and promo is brutal and relentless. I am extremely happy to have met people through promo, but the work that is involved to sell many books is enormous. (b) Pay professionals to make your product look excellent. So, get a proper cover. People do judge books by their covers. Why do you think they had to come up with a saying? Get a professional editor. Mistakes in books are one of the top reasons people put books down.

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

•I have put a significant amount of time into my website, I also have resources on there for indie authors, so it's worthwhile to check out! Great interview, Kevin, and thank you again for the opportunity!

Kev's response: Derek, thank you for joining me. Good fortune on the blogging, and on the new style of book!

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