My awesome authors series continues with David J West author of "Heroes of the Fallen." I first became aware of David while researching Utah publishers for my own book and came across his blog, Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart.
You can view it at this link: David J West.
He was the first blogger who grabbed my attention for his mix of humor and writing insight. Additionally, his work branches out from traditional LDS topics and feels more inspired by great works of Epic fantasy.
It was also nice to see a blog devoid of frills and girlie romance covers. Sometimes when I visit his blog, it's like heading over to a "man cave" on the web.
I've had the pleasure of chatting with David and was happy he agreed to be featured.
Please welcome Mr. David J West!
Your first book "Heroes of the Fallen" came out with Wido Publishing earlier this year. Can you tell us a little about the book?
"Heroes of the Fallen" is the first in a series of ancient American historicals that are laced with all the speculative weirdness and action I can muster. It reads like an epic fantasy, though I would argue anything within [the book] IS within the realm of the possible.
What motivated you to write "Heroes of the Fallen?"
A big motivation for writing the entire series, is that no one had ever done a Book of Mormon historical the way I wanted to read them. The romances didn't do it for me, nor did the adaptions which had very little creativity in prose or expansion of possibilities.
As a kid (and still today) my favorite parts were the wars, the action, the heroics. No one would tackle the incredible potential for the kind of stories I wanted to read.
So I did.
Using perhaps more familiar Biblical historicals, think of the movies- 10 Commandments, Ben Hur, The Robe, King David and the novel Curse of Jezebel by Frank Slaughter.
I wanted to read an epic series so I wrote an epic series.
[Editor's note: Great cover. I'm pretty sure that's David on the left about to kick some butt.]
How do you think your book is different from others in the Utah/LDS market?
I would say the one thing I keep hearing back is either it is very graphic compared to what the LDS market standard is, OR I liked it despite it being an LDS book. I suppose I'll take both as a compliment.
I set out to write a very different book, and it was a fear of mine that it would be rejected by the LDS community. Thankfully it wasn't.
How far along are you with your next book?
[It's] very nearly done. Originally book 1 and 2 were one massive tome,but the market being what it is, I decided to split the book in half.
This has caused new problems. I have to reintroduce some things to book 2 and expand on somethings added in book 1 rewrites.
I expect to get BLOOD OF OUR FATHERS to my editor any day now.
You're a publishing machine! Besides your books, I noticed you are a prolific short story writer. Can you tell us a little about your upcoming anthologies?
I have several anthologies coming up. Except for a Book of Mormon short story anthology (which I am headlining) the rest of the anthologies are fantasy's.
Roar of the Crowd-will have my story "Whispers of the Goddess," a heroic account of the sack of Constantinople in the 4th Crusade. Whats not to love about Crusaders, Vikings and the Holy Grail to boot?
Shadows & Light 2 contains my desert fantasy tale of honor-"The Hand of Fate"
The Challenge: Discovery-has "The Serpent's Root" a rollicking yarn starring a female thief named Saphir.
I have several other tales I am waiting to hear confirmations on.
How do you tackle writing a short story vs writing a novel?
Its kinda weird, I started out writing short stories, then linking them all together to make a novel-filling in spaces at times-so that when I decided to try writing some shorts it was really hard to go back to keeping a low wordcount.
My first shorts were all longer. Whispers of the Goddess is 12K, Hand of Fate was 11K.
In fact I had to stop a couple of shorts because it became obvious they needed to become novels-I couldn't limit those stories.
But with practice and craft, I am finding the way to strip things down and get to the meat of an incident and leave that at 5K or less. I have a couple shorts now that aren't over 3K.
Tell us a little about your background? I heard you were into martial arts.
I was really into martial arts before I got married. I took some Karate, Tae-kwon do, Akido, and my personal favorite Wu Ji Chyuan Fa, a no-nonsense Chinese amalgamation of styles.
I hear you collect swords. Can you tell us about your collection and how you got interested in it?
I have always liked swords-just that boyish barbarian fascination I suppose.
I have a large number of decorative swords, but also several 'battle ready' weapons.
How many do you have?
I think I have 17 swords, a pair of spears and three ax's. Oh and a war-hammer that is a lot of fun.
Any favorite one?
My favorite sword would be the Grosse Messer, which is what I base Amaron, the main character in Heroes, sword on.
Why do you think readers, male readers in particular, enjoy action and battle scenes?
Probably much the same reason they like sports-whether watching or playing there is that release for the natural aggressions that come up in life.
I believe it is something we are hardwired with,BUT I would also hope that in my writing of such blood, I display consequences as well as action. I don't write blood and guts without a thought behind it.
I love your blog titled "Nephite Blood/Spartan Heart." What link do you see between these two groups?
Great question. I wanted as original a name as possible for the blog and something that would brand me and my future writings.
I have a novel BLESS THE CHILD about an exiled Spartan mercenary set during the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar (I'm still tweaking it) and combining my thoughts on that with HEROES, which had just been contracted-gave me the title for the blog. It was also a play on Morrissey's song-Irish Blood, English Heart.
With the Christmas season upon us, do you have a favorite Christmas memory?
I love the feeling of being with family-the warmth, the hot cocoa, watching the moonlight hit the sparkling snow.
How does your family celebrate the season?
We are in the midst of starting our own new traditions. My family used to open presents on Christmas Eve and re-enact the Nativity. My wifes family did the standard Christmas Morn thing-so we are blending the two.
What was your favorite Christmas present as a kid?
Probably anything G.I. Joe.
What do you want for Christmas this year?
Books, lots and lots of books. It's what excites me the most.
[Editor's comment: Books and swords. A cool combination!]
You've been to several writing conferences in the Utah area. Do you have a favorite memory of those?
Heh-yeah. As mentioned above, in early 2009 I was still unsure if anyone in the LDS community would like my style-BUT I won first place in the first chapters general fiction category for my weird western, DANCE THE GHOST WITH ME - (my mom is still after me to finish that one!)
It was a great validation that other people liked my stuff.
It's often said that women buy more books than men. Any thoughts on why that is and how we can increase male readership?
That's a real tough one. I ought to ask that myself on the blog and get more feedback, but I think women are more willing to throw themselves into the world of a book.
Too many people in general think they have to get something out of reading, like it has to teach them something concrete.
Think of all the self-help books out there.
They are missing how much literature does teach us,even subtly, how much it does make us think.
This is why the classic works have survived as long as they have--great literature makes us a great people.
I also believe in the sheer enjoyment of reading. I read for enjoyment almost every day BUT I don't do lots of other things people take for granted.
I never play video games for example. It might be perfectly enjoyable, but I don't see it edifying anyone, and I don't have time for that.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Always, always, always keep notes. I have a river of ideas flowing to me constantly, and you have to keep notes, because you will forget.
What do you know about the publishing industry now that you didn't know before your novel?
Networking is key. It always pays to know people and have friends within the community. Writing can be solitary, but I don't believe success is.
What's 2011 hold for David West?
I will have BLOOD OF OUR FATHERS released. I will have half a dozen short stories in anthologies (at the least) and potentially a couple other novels out riding the waves of fortune.
Thanks for sharing your experience, David.
Thank you for this opportunity.