Kindle Author Interview: Brian Drake

Brian Drake, author of Show No Mercy, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

[I interviewed Brian about his previous novel, Justified Sins, back in September.]

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Show No Mercy?

BRIAN DRAKE: Michael Dodge is a young CIA officer who owes Harry Ames, his surrogate father. Harry is accused of murdering a comrade and joining forces with an enemy planning to unleash a lethal biological weapon on the United States. Dodge may have to kill Harry, but can he do it? I wanted to write a spy story that had a stronger emphasis on the characters and their connection to one another; I think I accomplished that. I also wanted an adventure that didn’t reference any current political or social event; basically, you can read Show No Mercy and not be hit in the face with the same issues that boiled your brain during the day. This story is pure escapism in the truest sense.

DAVID WISEHART: What do you most love about spy stories?

BRIAN DRAKE: I don’t know if it is spy stories in particular that I like, but the overall adventure genre in general, and some of that genre includes spy stories. I like the adventure, of course, the exotic locations, and the “I wonder if I could really happen” aspect (which is especially common with Cold War pieces). I grew up on James Bond so that was my first exposure to the subject matter.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you create and maintain dramatic tension?

BRIAN DRAKE: Conflict. Whether you have people disagreeing or a battle of some kind, you always have to have one character opposing another.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

BRIAN DRAKE: I like to give them traits or patterns of behavior. Show No Mercy features a heroine who cracks her knuckles when she’s stressed; the hero has some emotional challenges to deal with; the villain is always in a custom suit—things like that. I think it works.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

BRIAN DRAKE: Somebody who wants to escape for awhile. Like I said, Show No Mercy has no connection to our current world, so you can be confident that you’ll be carried off around the world and hopefully entertained.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

BRIAN DRAKE: When I was young I would draw my own comic books based on whatever sci-fi show I was watching, usually Star Trek or Robotech, so that’s how I started making up stories. When I was a little older, my father bought a video camera and my buddies and I wanted to make a movie. We quickly realized that our imaginations were larger than our (zero) budget so I took the short scripts I had written and turned them into short stories. That’s when the bug bit. I learned to plot and do characters by novelizing whatever spy show I happened to be watching, usually a James Bond movie or Secret Agent or The Man from UNCLE, and that led me to where I am today. Once I started jettisoning somebody else’s characters and wrote about my own, I was on my way.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

BRIAN DRAKE: I like to write long-hand first in a spiral notebook and get everything on paper. Then I type into the computer and refine things, add bits of details, information I’ve researched. I know it’s a bit masochistic but I enjoy the process. With the notebook I can write anywhere, in public, private, planes, trains, jail… anywhere.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

BRIAN DRAKE: I read Ian Fleming and Robert Ludlum growing up; still do, still learn from them. Lately I’ve been getting to Eric Ambler’s books. Ambler liked using ordinary folks caught up in some sort of spy intrigue, which is a theme Hitchcock used often as well, and a theme I may employ someday. I like fish out of water stories where somebody has to adapt to a dangerous challenge.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

BRIAN DRAKE: That would be a tie between Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block and Charlie Mike by Leonard B. Scott. Both books are an emotional powerhouse and brought tears to my eyes. And they’re totally different books. Block wrote a hard-boiled detective story; Charlie Mike is about soldiers in Vietnam.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

BRIAN DRAKE: Interviews like this! They’re fun, but promotion is hard work.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

BRIAN DRAKE: When I first started on the Kindle/indie route last year I did not like the “indie author” title. I thought that was a PC feel-good term used to make such people feel like they were actually accomplishing something. My original intent with an ebook was to build and audience that I could take to a traditional publisher to show them I had the chops. Well, one year later, I am embracing the “indie” title. Why? I’m having more fun promoting and selling my work on my own than I ever dreamed I would. I’m going to keep doing it. The checks that come in the mail are very nice, indeed.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

BRIAN DRAKE: Make sure you’re work is up to snuff but don’t be too hard on yourself. You and your beta readers and/or editors won’t catch every typo or error. It’s a constant battle and there’s always “just one more.” Luckily you can make changes and re-upload the book. But I feel bad for those readers who bought a copy with a typo. It’s embarrassing.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.


Brian Drake has been a writer of mystery, crime and adventure fiction since his first publication at age 25, and discusses important contributions to the hard-boiled canon at his blog, “Brian Drake Explains It All” ( In his spare time, Brian, a California native, can be found racing through the back canyon roads of the Central Valley in a bright red hot rod. He is the author of Reaper’s Dozen: 12 Tales of Crime & Suspense, Justified Sins, and his latest, Show No Mercy: A Michael Dodge Thriller, all of which are all available at the Amazon Kindle Store. Someday he may get a dog.

Read his blog.

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