BOD Spotlight with Rissa Blakeley

Interview by Angie Taylor

Welcome, Rissa Blakeley, to the BOD author spotlight. It’s my pleasure to share a little bit about you with all of our BOD members. Thanks for joining us.

Thanks for spotlighting me and my work!

To start off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What did you want to be when you grew up? How did you become a writer and what kind of stories do you like to write?

I don’t really have some romanticized story of how I fell in love with the written word at a young age. I was the typical kid, thinking about becoming a teacher, doctor, lawyer, or veterinarian. I have always been creative in one way or another. One day I just had an idea run through my head and I decided to write it down. It was as if I opened the flood gates and it really started flowing. Four years later, I published my first book, Broken Dreams.

That’s cool. I love hearing about how authors became writers. Each author’s story is so unique. So, is there a specific author or genre that has significant meaning to you and your writing?

I love the paranormal genre. My Shattered Lives series has a paranormal element. The genre is so much fun, because it is so broad. You can do so much with it. I’m not sure if I could ever write a non-paranormal book. I say that now, and a year from now, a non-paranormal idea will pop in my head.

What was your favorite book to read as child? What’s your favorite book to read or escape in as an adult?

As a child, I used to love Beverly Clearly and Judy Blume books. Ramona was probably one of my favorite characters. I was excited to find a few for my daughter, but sadly, they didn’t strike as much interest with her as they did me. As an adult, I am a straight up JR Ward junky. As a matter of fact, I am reading her most current release, The Beast, right now!

Can you tell us how you came up with the world building for Broken Dreams, the first book in your Shattered Lives series?

This is always a tough question for me. When I first started to really push the idea of publishing Broken Dreams, I spoke to several Indie Authors about my work. I had one inform me that I didn’t world build because I don’t write fantasy. That set me back a little and I had to think about it for a while, asking myself ‘Am I world building?’ My answer was yes, I am world building.

My strategy for world building is to lay out the big landmarks. For example, different parts of Shattered Lives takes place in the East End of London, a village just outside of New York City, Atlanta, and The Port in North Carolina. By using familiar places and familiar landmarks (JFK or Heathrow, for example), readers can imagine themselves in those places for climate, accents, etc. I use what we know and develop around those, adding fictional towns and such. It’s a pretty basic concept, but it works for my style of writing. Most readers tell me they can picture everything so clearly that they feel like they are watching a movie while they read the series.

That’s interesting. I’ve never thought of world building as being genre specific. I think it’s a concept that applies to any setting. So I’m glad you claimed world building in your writing.

What can you tell us about Henry’s past? Is his character based off anyone in real life? Do you have any personal experience with military life that helped you develop Henry’s character development?

Henry’s past is quite sordid and I haven’t based him on anyone in real life, nor do I have any personal experience with the military. Both my father and mother were in the Army, but were out by the time I came into the picture.

Henry believed his mother was murdered when he was five. He moved in and out of the foster care system, only to be chosen to participate in a secret government program. So many things happened to him during his stay at the program’s facility. Some of which he doesn’t come clean about to his long time love, Elaina, until the fourth book in the series, Blind Faith. I don’t want to say too much because it would give one of the major plotlines away, but I will say, he is sick on many different levels. His circumstances are tragic, and just when he thinks he has kicked most of his issues to the curb, they come back even stronger.

A lot of readers are fond on him, but are not fond of his emotional outbursts. While I would never rewrite Broken Dreams in his point of view, I think they would find what is going on in his head quite interesting.

Cool. I love learning about the psychological workings of certain characters. What about your other characters? Who are you most like/who are you least like?

Each character has a small piece of me. Whether it’s something I am or something I wish to be. Or even how they communicate with words and body language, but I will never tell which traits are mine.

That’s probably a wise choice. Keep your readers guessing? Would you like to tell us about any of your current writing projects? What’s next?

I wrote a paranormal erotic story called The King’s Fate (Corvidae Guard). Originally, it was going to be published in an anthology. For a variety of reasons, I decided to leave the project. This made a lot of my readers happy because they will get the story about six months before the original publishing date. The King’s Fate will be released on June 7, 2016. I am so excited for this book, and I can’t wait to get it into the reader’s hands.

I am also working on a major rewrite of Full Circle (Shattered Lives, Book Five). The draft never sat well with me. I printed it to try to run edits that way, but it kept rubbing me the wrong way. I decided to scrap the draft and do a total rewrite using the parts of printed draft as notes. So far, it’s coming along and I am liking it much better than the original. It’s dark, scary, and very complex, but I know with patience and a clear mind, I can make it work. It’s just going to take longer than I originally planned.

Also, I have a plan to give my readers a prequel to Broken Dreams. It has been widely requested. The readers want to know about the program and the years prior to ‘Z-Day’. There is already a short story out called A Little Taste of Naughty. It gives the reader a glimpse into Henry and Elaina’s relationship before the apocalypse. I love it. It’s fun, naughty, and a good way to fall back in love with Henry after his behavior in Blind Faith. Along with the prequel, I will be writing Henry’s Journal. Anyone who has read, knows about Henry and his journals, which are more like letters to his mother. I think it would be great to release them as one small novella.

Awesome. Sounds like readers have a lot to look forward to. Okay, so it’s your wedding day and the zombie apocalypse happens in the middle of your ceremony. What do you do?

I would like to think I would be a brave woman, gathering others, saving lives, etc. But to be honest, I probably would be cowering in the corner, hoping someone who is not a zombie finds me. Although, I do think after the initial shock, I would be ready to kick some zombie butt.

If you were trained in any military branch, which area of expertise would it be and why? How would that training help you in a zombie apocalypse?

I think that during an apocalypse, it’s pretty much every man for himself, until you find like-minded people. Weapons training would be helpful. Especially knives and hand-to-hand combat, because at some point, you would run out of bullets. I’m not sure what I would even do well. Maybe I would be the campfire storyteller.

Now for some random facts about yourself. What do you do when you’re not writing about the end of the world?

Read or watch television with my family. I enjoy cooking when I can. I’m not an amazing cook, but I can hold my own. I live a pretty simple life.

Spending time with family is the best. But you’ve got me on the cooking. I have yet to find pleasure in cooking. Maybe someday. If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you spend it on and why?

I’m not even sure. We would probably buy a smaller house with some acreage, further out in the country, and stash money for our daughter’s college fund. I would finally be able to hire the two narrators I want for my series. Also, it would be nice for my husband to be able to stop working. I don’t really want a lot of things, but time to enjoy being with my family. We could travel, which would be nice.

Sounds like a perfect way to use a big sum of money. If you knew you only had one more year to live, how would you spend your time and who would you spend it with?

I would try to spend every minute possible with my family. I would do my best to teach my daughter everything I could.

Perfect. Well, thank you so much, Rissa, for spending time with us and for sharing your talents and letting us get to know you a little.

Thank you for having me! This was a lot of fun!


Rissa Blakeley is the author of the paranormal series, Corvidae Guard, and the post-apocalypse saga, Shattered lives, which features a paranormal twist. Her short story, A Little Taste of Naughty, was part of the best-selling anthology, Just Desserts. As a native New Yorker, Rissa is now a Georgia transplant, who is completely addicted to black coffee, La Croix and obsessively listens to songs on repeat. Her days are full of characters screaming for more scenes, cats living up to their Harry Potter namesakes, lazy dogs, a teenage daughter bringing Emo back, and a Viking husband, who finds her puns less than funny. When Rissa isn’t writing, she can be found procrastinating on social media.

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