Derek is an author and attorney living in Denver, Colorado. He graduated from Duke University and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and majored in English and Economics at Duke.
Since graduation, Derek has served as the co-Chair of Mayor Hickenlooper's Denver Latino Commission, and was recently selected to serve as a co-Chair of the Denver Chapter of the Colorado Latino Forum. He was named as a Colorado Super Lawyer "Rising Star" in 2010 and 2011, and was awarded the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association's 2010 award for the most Outstanding Young Hispanic Lawyer.
Derek is married to his lovely wife Meranda, and has two uncontrollably terrible dogs (and one good one that isn't really his).
First, thanks for agreeing to let Mystery Writers Unite interview you, it is a pleasure…now for the fun stuff :-)
MWU: If your wife Meranda was approached on the street, what would she say your writing quirk(s) are?
Derek Blass: Hah! Great question. Gotta have music playing while writing. And, music drive the tenor of my writing. For instance, if I need to get into a real action scene, I'll probably listen to Tool, Metallica or something else charged. If I have a dark, moody scene, I'll turn to Radiohead. Just examples, but I can't write without the appropriate music!
MWU: Aside from your wife, who would you say has been the biggest supporter of your writing?
Derek Blass: My parents have been great supporters. My dad read the book and if it got past his critique, I knew I at least had something. They also probably have twenty or so copies of the book, God bless their souls. Have to mention some amazing fans and Tweeps though: Jodi Canary, Rebecca Scarberry, Maureen Zomervale. The list would go on, but that'd be a yawner for your readers! Just feel so grateful to have good friends supporting how they can.
MWU: If you were one of the characters in ENEMY IN BLUE, what type of character would you be and why (can’t be the young lawyer Mr. Marquez…lol)?
Derek Blass: It's gonna scare people, but probably Tyler. He's the ruthless assassin in the book, but he's also got a side to him, a side that wants acceptance and if he doesn't get that, to kick the crap out of some people. Weird combo, huh?
MWU: Who is your favorite character, aside from Cruz Marquez, in ENEMY IN BLUE and why?
Derek Blass: I liked writing Tyler's scenes the most. He allowed me to be introspective, and to add some social commentary that I felt was important. Some of my other characters, like Shaver for instance, weren't really of the ilk to philosophize. I will say, however, that it has surprised me how much people like Shaver as a character. By far, he is the one people talk about the most!
MWU: If you had less than a minute to tell a perspective reader what they could expect from ENEMY IN BLUE (you are at a trade show and someone has stopped by your booth) what would you tell them? Go….
Derek Blass: Non-stop action. Thrills. Entertainment that weaves in several topics that are germane to our contemporary society, like police brutality and racism. Not in a way you feel clubbed over your head. In a way that first, you enjoy a great story, and second, you reflect.
MWU: If you were approached to make ENEMY IN BLUE into a movie, who do you think should play the role of Cruz Marquez?
Derek Blass: Benjamin Bratt.
MWU: How do you develop and differentiate your characters and how do you “stay in character” when your writing? Has this process changed from your first book to your second book?
Derek Blass: I develop characters through action, by how they react in situations. The interesting thing is that oftentimes, the characters dictate the action. In essence then, they are dictating their own development. That has not changed at all from my first to second book.
MWU: Who do you see as your “ideal” reader?
Derek Blass: Anyone who is inquisitive, has a passion for great entertainment, and who wants to read something about a topic that matters. I didn't write a book about Jack and Jane falling in love and cruising away into the sunset. This is an intense, thrilling story that weaves in a difficult subject.
MWU: What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Derek Blass: The first draft of anything is shit. I didn't exactly receive that directly from Mr. Hemingway himself, but I consider it received through the professor's voice who told me it :)
MWU: What are you working on now and when do you expect to release the next book?
Derek Blass: I'm working on my second book, which addresses the topic of border wars between the US and Mexico, immigration, and drug cartels. Yes, some of the characters are the same—but it is not a direct sequel to Enemy in Blue. What readers can expect is more of the same package: entertainment + important topics. Hoping to have it released next summer!
MWU: Is there anything you would like to say to new writers, new readers or current fans of your work?
Derek Blass: It's an honor to be able to write and actually have someone read it, let alone enjoy it. I'm committed polishing my craft further, and to making sure that I write about things that matter. My books will continue to take on issues we struggle with on a daily basis, and will do so in a way that entertain and hopefully prompt consideration and conversation.
The synopsis for ENEMY IN BLUE:
The streets aren’t safe when the enemy wears a gold badge and blue uniform. The videotaped murder of an illegal immigrant by an allegedly racist cop draws Cruz Marquez, a young lawyer, into an action-packed journey to preserve the evidence. His success depends on surviving the Chief of Police’s sinister plotting, assassination attempts by a deranged hit man, and the raw force of Sergeant Shaver – his enemy in blue.
Sufficiently teased? Buy Enemy in Blue Now!