Thursday, October 21, 2021

Robbie Bach Interview - The Wilkes Insurrection

Photo Content from Robbie Bach

Robbie Bach is best known for founding and leading the team that created the Xbox. Today he is an entertaining storyteller and catalyzing voice who writes books and speaks to audiences on leadership, creativity, strategy, and civic issues.

During his twenty-two years at Microsoft, Robbie worked in various marketing and business management roles—including supporting the successful launch and expansion of Microsoft Office and leading the creation and development of the Xbox business. Then as Microsoft’s President of the Entertainment and Devices Division, he was responsible for the company’s worldwide gaming, music, video, phone, and retail sales businesses until he retired in 2010.

He currently chairs the board of the Bipartisan Policy Center. He also

serves on the national board of governors for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Magic Leap, an augmented reality company. He previously served as a board member of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Sonos Inc., Brooks Running Company, the Space Needle Inc., and Year Up Puget Sound. He is the co-owner of Manini’s, Inc., a gluten-free pasta and baking company.

In 2015, he published his first book, Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal. Published in 2021, The Wilkes Insurrection is his first novel. 


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I love hearing the reactions people have to The Wilkes Insurrection story and the characters themselves. As an author, you work on plot, scene description, dialog, and character development – and you do it with a goal in mind. It’s very rewarding when you discover that a reader has really connected with your protagonist, the story, or a theme. It’s also surprisingly enjoyable when people’s responses are not what you expect – maybe they interpret something in a different light or they apply it to their own experiences. Those are the pleasant and unexpected “easter eggs” that you receive in the process.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
My current passion is focused on the work I do with several non-profits, especially the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. This is an organization that serves over 4 million kids and teens across the country and on military installations around the world. They fill the gaps in our social fabric in a way that helps kids grow into caring, productive adults. I’m also spending a good deal of time with the Bipartisan Policy Center – they are a Washington, DC based policy think tank that works across the aisle to find broad-based, and fact-based solutions. I call all of this work “civic engineering,” and I hope others will join me. Oh…one more thing. I’m excited to begin writing the next phase of Tamika Smith’s journey…this protagonist has earned a sequel!

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Stories are such a fundamental part of how we communicate, share, and pass down our ideas, our hopes and fears, and ultimately our culture. Before there was the written word, this happened through oral tradition – now it happens in books, movies, music, video games and even social media. If we compare a scholarly lecture with a well-told story, we know which one we will remember and playback for others. Stories have a way of embedding themselves in our memory, changing the way we think, and encouraging us to share with others. As a business leader, when I wanted to really get a point across to the team – and definitely needed them to act – I did it by relating a story from which they could learn and appreciate what was required next.

Can you tell us when you started THE WILKES INSURRECTION, how that came about?
I faced a difficult question in September of 2016. I’d been very busy marketing my first book, Xbox Revisited, and it was time to begin writing again. But what should I write? I contemplated a second nonfiction effort, but I also wanted to grow as a writer. So I decided to explore fiction, along with the challenges of character development, scene description, dialogue, and plot lines worthy of a thriller. In typical Robbie Bach fashion, I actually didn’t start by taking a writing class, crafting a plot, or even sketching an outline. Instead, I began with 4 or 5 characters that have been running around in my head for a number of years. After almost a hundred pages of character arcs, I started imagining how they all might interact. What could bring them together amidst the challenges we face today? And a story began to take shape.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your book?
First and foremost, I hope they are excited by the page-turning plot and the intrigue of a thriller that has elements of action, cyber-terrorism, politics, and anarchy. Put another way, I hope they find an engaging and visceral story. I also hope they dive deep into the characters themselves. One of the elements that I think distinguishes The Wilkes Insurrection from other thrillers is the emotional depth and complexity of the personalities that drive the plot. The themes are intensely human: revenge and hope, guilt and redemption, separation and family. My protagonist, Tamika Smith must answer the fundamental question, “How far would you go to save what you love?” Finally, I hope that when they turn the final page, they pause and say, “Wow, that was a great story…and I actually learned something important about where are as a country and what we must do to keep it strong.”

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
The question I continually asked myself is “What motivates each character?” Connecting their emotions and motivations with their words and actions was very important for me. In many respects, the thriller genre forces a writer to provide non-stop action and page-turning surprises. As that happens, the plot can overcome the characters and it’s easy to lose sight of who they are and why they act the way that they do. Finding the proper balance between a character’s actions and his/her state of mind was a key element in writing The Wilkes Insurrection.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I love Nelson DeMille thrillers, and I think it would be very fun to introduce Tamika Smith to DeMille’s frequent protagonist, John Corey. They are both patriots in their own way, but their styles are so different. Corey’s background as a street cop leaves him a bit cynical – a wiseass who does what it takes. Tamika’s work in the military was Search and Rescue which brings an element of human caring into the picture – she is tough but compassionate. I’d love to know if they could find the many overlaps in their makeup and motivations despite coming at challenges from very different directions.

  • 1. Tamika Smith is a badass deserving of your attention.
  • 2. The plot twists keep coming – and the pacing is worthy of a great thriller.
  • 3. It involves the dark web, augmented reality, cybercrime, military drones, and more.
  • 4. A rich tapestry of characters come together in intricate and unexpected ways.
  • 5. The story line focuses on contemporary themes, today’s challenges, and timely messages.
  • 6. The writing is polished, exciting, and emotive.
  • 7. The villains are believable and their hatred and evil are visceral.
  • 8. The Lincoln Coalition is an idea whose time has come.
  • 9. Heroes matter, patriotism is real, and optimism is a force multiplier.
  • 10. It explores the best and the worst of America.
Full profiles, including book excerpts and music playlists, can be found at Here are some overviews:

Ford Wilkes: An elusive extremist hell-bent on destroying America.
a. 36 years old, brown hair with wavy curls, chunky but in shape
b. Graduated from Wayne State University with degree in Computer Science
c. Lost job in 2008 recession; disenfranchised misogynist
d. Tech skilled, venture capitalist but with a focus on anarchy
e. Favorites:
i. Food: Chips, salsa, and beer
ii. Media: Twitter, Breitbart News, AON, and Newsmax
iii. Athlete: Gordie Howe and John Daly
iv. Weapon: Drones and a Beretta Px4 
f. Theme Song: “Authority Song” – John Mellencamp 

2. Tamika Smith: A woman of uncommon valor haunted by her tragic past.
a. 39 years old, biracial, black hair, 5’ 11” 135 pounds
b. Olympic-class sprinter at Air Force Academy
c. Served in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Combat Search and Rescue specialist
d. Lawyer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
e. Favorites:
i. Food: Chicken (protein cooked any of seven ways)
ii. Media: “Saving Private Ryan” and “Remember the Titans” (Tom or Denzel?)
iii. Athlete: Wilma Rudolph; Sue Bird, David Robinson
iv. Weapon: Speed…
f. Theme Song: “Loyal Brave True” – Christina Aguilera (from “Mulan”)

3. Bryce Roscovitch: A dark web hacker confronting his conscience.
a. An unplanned arrival in 1980, impossibly shy, gangly and dumpy
b. Caught in the crossfire of his father’s expectations
c. Technically brilliant with the matching lack of social skills
d. Knows what is “right” but rationalizes it away
e. Favorites:
i. Food: PB&J plus Diet Coke…the food of champions
ii. Media: Anything you can’t find on the regular internet
iii. Athlete: Fatal1ty (E-sports is the new sports)
iv. Weapon: Harnessing the power of a stream of 1’s and 0’s
f. Theme Song: “The Living Years” – Mike and the Mechanics

4. Jerry Jessup: A failed intelligence officer in search of redemption.
a. Approaching 50, tall, thick black mustache, with a Top Gun physique
b. Combat pilot in Bosnia and Iraq
c. Deep background in intelligence gathering; almost a real “spook”
d. Offutt Air Force Base Commander
e. Favorites:
i. Food: Meat and potatoes (and beer)
ii. Media: “NCIS” – Even if Jethro Gibbs is a jarhead.
iii. Athlete: Rocky Bleier and Roger Staubach
iv. Weapon: F-18 or a Glock 23
f. Theme Song: “Danger Zone” – Kenny Loggins 

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Somehow I think this is a bit of a trick question, since most of the answers are either two predictable or too personal. So I think I have to respond in a more general fashion. I think that once in our lives (or maybe more than once), we should all try to do something where we think the likely outcome is some form of failure. Life is about learning…about stretching ourselves to explore new areas, develop new talents, and find new loves. In my mind, the only way to do that is to reach beyond what we think is possible and keep fighting to make it happen. Inevitably, sometimes that will lead to failure – and our only solace is that it can usually be graceful.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
My work at Microsoft took me all over the world – and because my wife is European, we’ve traveled extensively there as well. So I’ve been remarkably fortunate to experience many different cultures and locations. But I’ve never been to one of the continents: Antarctica. I know there is not much there, and perhaps that is part of the attraction. The beauty lies in the isolation, in the extreme conditions, and in the wildlife that can persevere in that kind of environment. I wonder if I could do a book event there?

Where can readers find you?

I suppose the traditional answer is that I’m on all of the major social media sites: LinkedIn: robbiebach; Instagram: @robbiejbach; Facebook: @robbiebach61; Twitter: @robbie_bach. I also have two WEBSITE and In a more general sense, when I’m not writing, I’m usually working with one of the non-profits I support, mentoring other leaders, or trying to figure out how to grow the gluten free pasta company I own with a friend (the brand is Manini’s). I will also give roughly 50 pro bono lectures this year, mostly to college students or charitable organizations. I’m dedicated to golf, love to travel with my wife, Pauline, and enjoy time with our kids, including our first grandchild. 

An elusive extremist hell-bent on destroying America.
​A woman of uncommon valor haunted by her tragic past.
A dark web hacker confronting his conscience.
A failed intelligence officer in search of redemption.

The relative calm at Offutt Air Force Base is shattered when commercial Flight 209 crashes down onto its runway. From the flaming wreckage, Major Tamika Smith must try to rescue survivors and make sense of the tragedy. But this isn’t just an isolated incident. In a time of national unrest and division, a cunning shadowy mastermind is tearing down the United States from the inside out, playing law enforcement like puppets. Soon, thousands are dying and there are precious few leads. Can Tamika and an unlikely collection of committed Americans stop the destruction in time to rescue a nation descending into chaos?

With heart-pounding action, compelling plot twists, and a rich tapestry of characters, The Wilkes Insurrection is a contemporary thriller of anarchic obsession and heroic ambition. Its perfect blend of callous villains, iconic heroes, and political intrigue will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

You can purchase The Wilkes Insurrection at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ROBBIE BACH for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Wilkes Insurrection by Robbie Bach.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. The internet is a great way to communicate.

  2. "In one sentence, how would you sum up the internet?" "A crazy, mixed-up bunch of crap driving fascism and a lack of privacy rights that we really didn't need."