Author interview with Raenn Blake – author of Jake (The Seven Brothers of Elko: Book One)
Please share about your background (where you were born, where you grew up, siblings/family dynamic, career background , where you live now, etc.)
Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview. I am honored and excited to spend this time with you. I come from a family of four sisters. I am the youngest and was definitely the spoiled baby of the bunch. My sisters had a good hand in spoiling me, not knowing what lay in store for them down the road. We grew up in Atlanta, not Georgia, but a little town in the far northeast corner of Texas. It’s quite a transition for a small town girl to go from there to Fort Worth where I live now. When we were growing up our dad was one of the few mailmen in Atlanta so everybody, and I mean everybody, knew who we were. Talk about not being able to get away with anything. We couldn’t do a single thing that Daddy didn’t know about before we even got home. But on the whole, none of us had any reason to complain. We had a great loving family, raised in that true country-style, southern way of life with a large extended family of cousins, aunts and uncles who would discipline you and keep an eye on you just as closely as your own parents. They each in their own way taught us to believe in ourselves and reach for the stars, that your word meant something, and that it’s never wrong to do the right thing. As to my career, I went through a variety of jobs from waitress, assembly line worker, secretary, data entry, computer operations and more until I finally got interested in computer programming and web development. I’ve been doing that now for more than 15 years. I’m one of those lucky stiffs who get to work from home with the best group of people around. I’m extremely blessed to have found that one great guy I was supposed to be with all along and he supports me 100% in my writing or anything else I want to do. He picks up all the slack as I spend my days in front of the computer working at the day job and my nights…you guessed it…in front of the computer working on these books.
When did you begin your writing journey?
The first page of the first book was written in 2007.
What inspired you to write this book?
I built this fantasy in my head around one of my favorite television actors back in the late 1970’s. As the years passed, I continually added to that story and it eventually became so long and so detailed that I worried I would lose it. I decided I would get the basics of it down to make sure I would at least remember part of it. So I started writing. Once I started, it just took on a life of its own and kept growing. By the time I was finished with it, it wasn’t even the same story and I couldn’t remember the original one anymore. That book turned out to be my latest release, Jake, which is the first book of seven in the series that it morphed into.
Please share about your book.
Jake is of course the first book in the series The Seven Brothers of Elko. While you will meet all seven brothers in Jake’s story, it doesn’t become readily apparent how they begin to consider themselves as brothers until later in the series. Jake Reardon and Brinley Phillips are the cornerstones of that family. It initially seems they will have a short, if bumpy, trip down the ‘happily ever after’ aisle. But initial impressions can be deceiving. Mix in one ex-wife with the most inopportune news, one ex-husband with more than a slight tilt towards abuse and torture, and a man trusted by Brinley but not the Reardons and it leads to a lot of twists and a lot of danger.
Here’s just a short blurb about the series.
No one could have foreseen the chain of events that would be set in motion when Tommy Joe Branden insisted that his ‘little sister,’ Brinley Phillips, accompany him to Vegas for a few days for some much needed time off. You will meet each of the seven brothers in Jake’s story. You will learn more about each one through their own stories. Only they can tell you how one chance meeting ultimately leads them all through an intricately interwoven web of hope, love, heartache, lies, deceit, and murder. Only they can tell you how they become The Seven Brothers of Elko. And specifically for Jake…
Christopher Davis Reardon’s wife died young, leaving him with two small boys to raise on his own. Jake and Davis were typical boys, but good kids. Mr. Reardon lived to see them both grow into the kind of men any father would be proud to call his sons. Respect for others, right from wrong, honesty, and the value of family were among the many things he taught his boys. And teaching them about women was right at the top of the list, especially the right woman. He had a mantra that was repeated to both boys from the age of thirteen until they were grown men themselves. They still know it by heart.
“Son, you always treat a woman with respect, no matter who they are, what they do, or what they say. All men have lust in their hearts, so bed ’em if you have to, but treat ’em with respect. And when you think you’re in love, you’re not. Because when you are in love, you’ll know it. When you really love a woman, she’ll be the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing you think about at night. When you really love a woman, she is your breath, your heartbeat, and your very soul. And when you really love a woman, you won’t be lusting after any others because no other women exist.”
Jake Reardon always understood what his father was saying. But he never felt the true meaning of those words…until he met Brinley Phillips. Never mind that Tommy Joe Branden had ‘hands-off’ signs posted all the way around her in big bright red letters. Never mind that she so completely believed in ’til death do us part that she was still hoping for a reconciliation with a man who would just as soon see her dead as not. And never mind that she lived and worked in Texas and had no plans on making Nevada her home. He practically felt his daddy nudge him in the back. Maybe that’s why he stumbled off the edge of that cliff. But when ghosts better left at rest raise their ugly heads, the path to that ‘happily ever after’ gets steadily more difficult and more dangerous. And just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse…it did.
How did you decide to publish this book? Why?
I actually stumbled into it…or was shoved would probably be more appropriate. One of my daughters-in-law was the only person who had been allowed to read all of my books until I released Taming Clay earlier this year. She started pushing as soon as she read Jake. Then it started to snowball. She recruited all of my kids, my sisters, and friends to keep up the pressure. And when my husband jumped on the bandwagon, I almost gave in. It wasn’t until I had my own experience with Amazon after I got a Kindle that I finally agreed. I briefly considered going the standard publishing route, but I never wrote these books for anyone else to read. I wrote them for myself. When I discovered that it was possible to publish them myself through Amazon I decided that was the route I should take. I was only publishing them to give the rest of my family and friends the opportunity to have a copy if they were interested in reading =them. I never expected them to be any kind of commercial success.
What is your advice to beginning writers?
Number 1: Just write it. The story is in your head. Just write it. You can go back and clean it up later. Just write the story.
Number 2: Now you’ve written it, you have honed it to its very best, it has been edited to death and you know it’s just right. Publish it. BUT…don’t think that you’re done now. That was the easy part. Now you have to promote it. Even if you go the standard publishing route, you’re going to have to promote it. If you think writing it and editing it was hard, just wait. I don’t mean to dissuade anyone. Just be prepared for the work that is ahead of you now.
Number 3: Reviews. That one word that can strike fear in the heart of any author. Stay steady about the reviews. Not every book will appeal to every reader. They may not like your style. They may not like the length. They may not like your characters. There will be any number of reasons that you could receive a bad review. And you will. At some point, you will get a bad review. Stay the course. Read the glowing reviews but don’t let them go to your head. Read them and file them away as you make notes about what worked for that reader. Keep track of all those things that you did well that resonated with them. Read the bad reviews and file them away as you make notes about what didn’t work for them. Do not take them to heart. Read them for clues on what you might do better the next time, but always remember that reviews are subjective. So read them, learn from them if you can, then file them away and go back to writing.
What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?
Writing it actually was no challenge. None of the 12 that I have written has been a challenge. The challenge for me comes in the editing and rewriting. Since Jake was my first book, I pretty much cringed when I went back and read it again to start getting ready to release it. I didn’t really find my “voice” until about the third book in the series. So it has been a trial to change it to make it sound like it should have sounded from the first without losing the story.
Most writers are readers. What books are on your “to-read” list?
I so seldom get a chance to read anymore that my Kindle is loaded with books waiting for some attention. I do know that my two favorite authors, Linda Lael Miller and Janet Dailey, both probably have books out that I haven’t read that I really want to get to one of these days. But there are so many other great authors out there. I can tell you that right now Susan Buchanan’s “Sign of the Times”, Cynthia Woolf’s “Tame” series and anything by Elizabeth Marx are ones that are sitting at the top of my list.
Where can readers find out more about you and your book? My website: http://www.raeannblake.com
Two chapter sample of Jake: http://www.raeannblake.com/Samples/Jake/Sample_Jake.html
Amazon author page:
Question for fun sake—what is your favorite color and why?
That’s tough. I guess I’d say blue. It’s peaceful and soothing. Plus it reminds me of the Montana sky. Yes, I know the sky is the same blue everywhere, but since I believe I was mistakenly born in Texas instead of Montana the sky seems to be bluer there. (Great now everybody in Texas will be up in arms.)
Raeann Blake has worked in software development for more than a decade, but uses a long history of experience in occupations from waitress to assembly line worker, from secretary to stay-at-home mom and more to lend credibility to many of her characters. A vivid imagination led her into being a “closet” author for more than five years before she finally decided to heed the advice and encouragement of her family and friends to share her work with others. Her books were initially written strictly to quiet the voices in her head that kept telling her all these stories. She embarked on this journey with no expectations of becoming a commercial success, but wanted to share them with others who might enjoy reading them. Her stories are for adults and contain both explicit language and
graphic content. Each of them is outside the industry standards for the genre in terms of length. She feels that they are told the way the stories needed to be told and understands that some readers do not want to invest that much time in a single work. However, she is happy to make them available to all of those who prefer novels that can’t be read in a matter of hours, as she does. It takes a diverse group of readers to keep the industry strong and she applauds all those who buy and borrow any book of any genre, short or long. Certainly not all books are for all people. If her books fit the bill for you, she hopes that you enjoy them. Raeann’s love affair with books began long ago when her father became justifiably irritated after about her twentieth proclamation that she was bored and had nothing to do. In response, he shoved a book in her hand and told her to read it. Jack London’s Call of the Wild was her first ‘grown-up’ book and she was hooked. Although a native Texan, Raeann is convinced she was really supposed to have been born in Montana, or that she at least lived there in a previous life. She currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and a crazy dog that eats walls and pretty much anything else (the dog, not the husband). Between her full-time job, supporting her husband’s band, and trying to keep the walls intact, she still finds time to write and feed that inner being that keeps whispering new stories in her ear that insist on being told.
The link to my brand new release: Jake (The Seven Brothers of Elko: Book One) is http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009MHLVHS