Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Interview with Author Steve Westover

Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Steve: I had never thought about writing a novel until I woke up one morning a couple of years ago with some characters in my mind. I told my wife about the story and she encouraged me to write it down. I was a bit intimidated because I had never written anything “creative” before and I didn’t know if I could do it. The entire time I was writing this first FBI thriller, Defensive Tactics, I kept wondering if I could really write a novel and if it would be any good. I viewed the whole process as an experiment but I found that I love it.

Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Steve: It was surprisingly easy, which kind of spoiled me a little. After completing the novel I sent it off to three publishers in Utah. I quickly received the dreaded denial letters from two, but then a couple of months later I received an approval from Cedar Fort. I signed the contract in April and the book was printed and released by August. It all happened VERY fast and as a brand new author with no experience in the world of publishing I found that there was a steep learning curve for the marketing and release of the book. The whole thing was very exciting.

Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Steve: While I was writing my first book I took many months off during the writing because I was discouraged and I didn’t know how to proceed. Ultimately I realized I just needed to jump back in and start writing again. With my new book, Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island, the writing went really fast. I started writing and was submitting the book within 4 months. The discouraging thing this time was getting an acceptance letter to publish. This was really confusing to me because I considered the story to be better than my first, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I completed extensive edits, shopped the manuscript around to agents and publishers and then was thrilled to once again to get a publishing contract.

Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island
Steve: Growing up in Oregon I camped in the mountains many times as a scout and loved it. I knew I wanted to write a “camping” story where the kids had to save the day. I started with the question, “What would happen if all of the adults at Crater Lake disappeared?” How would the kids survive? I then did some research and learned the fascinating legends about the mysterious powers surrounding Crater Lake and I decided to use those legends as the explanation for how the adults disappeared. There is much more to Crater Lake than just appears on the surface. An ancient evil lurks beneath and Ethan and his friends must decipher the legends and clues as they gather artifacts to free their parents from the Prison of the Lost. This is a fun fantasy that can also be a little spooky.

Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Steve: My wife and daughter. From Day 1 my wife has encouraged me and supported me even when I didn’t think I could write a novel. She read as I wrote and gave great feedback that influenced my writing and the story. My 13 year old daughter also played a huge role, particularly with Crater Lake, as she was part of the target audience I was writing for. It was fun to have her beg for the next chapters and it really pushed me to keep writing. She also made great suggestions and it has been a fun, family experience. My wife and daughter also provide the illustrations that are found inside Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island, which I think is REALLY cool.

Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Steve: I have a hard time eating when I write because I’d always be licking my fingers which would make my keyboard all sticky. Gross. So honestly, I don’t snack while I write, which is weird because I snack every other moment of the day.

Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Steve: I write my own music and play enough piano and guitar to accompany myself when I sing. Unfortunately, I’m not very good. My family’s favorite song, that I’ve written, is called the Pathetic Song. I wrote it in college when I was going through a dry spell getting dates. “Pathetic” is very appropriate and I sing this one with a heavy country twang.

Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Steve: Denial of a manuscript doesn’t always reflect on the quality of the writing or the story. It can be discouraging to get denial after denial, but the real trick is finding a good match between your story and the right publisher or agent. You may have a great story and you may be a fantastic writer, but the publisher may not be looking for your kind of book at the moment. Don’t take it personally. Persevere and don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Seek feedback, listen and develop a plan for success.

Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Steve: I’ve got a few projects going right now. Crater Lake is intended to be the first book of a trilogy which means I have 2 more Crater Lake books to write. I also have a contract on the sequel to Defensive Tactics which is a mixture of FBI thriller and National Treasure type treasure hunt set around LDS church history in Missouri. I have also completed a young adult dystopian novel called The Aborted about a future slave race that is created when the government harvests abortion victims and grows them to serve the Citizens. In this story, the main character learns the truth about who he his, where he came from and what his role is, and decides to fight back.

Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Steve: Crater Lake will be released in early March and can be pre-ordered online at Barnes and Noble, Walmart and of course Amazon at this link. http://www.amazon.com/Crater-Lake-Battle-Wizard-Island/dp/1599559609/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327076688&sr=1-7
I love interacting with readers on Facebook and on my blog. http://westoversleftovers.blogspot.com/

Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Steve: I just want to say that I love your blog and the opportunity it provides for readers to get to know the authors and learn about their books. Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island is a fun fantasy adventure that everyone, from the middle-grade reader right up to mom and dad, can read and enjoy together.

6 comments:

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  3. Great interview! Steve, can't wait to check out your book! :)

    Deirdra, I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Visit this link to collect: http://melissakline.blogspot.com/2012/04/sunshine-award.html

    Keep spreading sunshine!

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  4. Thanks so much for the Brilliant Writer Award - I've finally got it up on the blog and mentioned in my latest post.
    One Writer's Mind

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  5. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com

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