Interview with Christopher Westmoreland, author of “Risen”

A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?

That’s actually an excellent question, and to be honest, it’s one that is both true and false. To be honest, I’m an introvert. I honestly don’t enjoy being the center of attention. Sure, I want my work to inspire, and if I can make at least one person’s day, or even a couple of hours, be an enjoyable respite from life itself, well I think that I’ve done a good job. That said, I really don’t like being in a crowd of folks I don’t know. A few friends, a nice evening of discussing books, movies, or playing some video games is a perfect evening for me. Close friends, family, and loved ones.

How hard was it to sit down and start writing something?

How much work goes into actually starting.  I can’t speak for other authors.  I have no clue what Stephen King, J.K. Rowlings, George R. R. Martain, Frank Miller, or Neil Gaiman does.  All I know is what it’s like for me.  The act of writing isn’t hard, it’s what to write.  Anyone can sit down and start a story.  You can go to any fiction, or fan fiction site on the internet and see a thousand, or rather millions, of unfinished stories out there.  The hard part is narrowing down what you want to write, to come up with the basic plot line and then hopefully the characters agree with it.

Characters agree with it? What does that mean?

Think of it like this.  You’ve created a character.  He doesn’t have to be a good man, or even a decent man.  He might be a woman, and the same applies for her.  Based on how you’ve written him/her you’re going to discover that he/she might not do what the original plot says he/she is supposed to do.  You either have to change the character, or change the plot.

Which do you suggest?

I won’t change the characters. If they’re interesting enough to go against the original plot, then the plot needs to be altered. A story is nothing without characters. A prime example of this is Charles Dickens work. His stories were almost completely character driven. The main characters would be the most evolved, and they would basically be the engine that drove the story. For me it’s not even a question. I’ll change the plot before I change a character.

How often do you write?

I try to write everyday.  I honestly come in, try to write at least a thousand words every single day.  It might be a short story, or a character piece, maybe even a piece of fan fiction that’s never going to see the light of day, but I constantly write.  It’s only through the act of writing that you improve.

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in grade school was when I first started thinking about it.  I read a lot of kids horror back then.  Let’s see…  There was Thirteen, which this great anthology that I picked up from the Scholastic Book Fair, I still have the book in my library, and then I started on Fear Street, and then Goosebumps.  I realized that I really, honestly, and truly was captured by the world the authors of those stories in Thirteen, and R.L. Stine had created with Fear Street and Goosebumps.

Of course my tastes in literature changed, but my love for writing didn’t.  I’ve come to include graphic novels in part of my intake of literature, and I will be honest with you.  You’re going to be hard pressed to find a better author for Slice of Life than Will Eisner.  There’s some influence from Mr. Eisner in my works.

Would you say that what you read helps inspire what you write?

To a degree, sure.  I think that any author has some inspiration from what they read.  It’s kind of impossible not to have some of the influence by the greats not make it into your own work.

How would you feel if no one attended your book signing?

You know, a while back I was reading a post about people who had met celebrities, and one woman said that the closest she came was to meeting Betty White.  It seemed that Ms White had written a book of Memoirs.  She said that her (Betty White) was sitting in the book store, alone, no one stopping to get a book signed, and after a little bit she pretended to clean the area around her.  She said it was one of the saddest sights she had seen.  Now, I don’t know how Betty White felt when that happened, but I know how I’d feel. Sure, I’d be let down, but I wouldn’t let it keep me down.  The next book signing might go better, and I’d be willing to keep going and give it a try.

Do your novels carry a message?

I don’t know a novel that doesn’t carry one.  I’d like to think that one of messages in my novel is that friends will be there to help each other, maybe even going as far to say Friendship is Magic.

Would you say that your writing style is different from other authors, and if so, how?

My writing style is my own, but that’s not to say it hasn’t been influenced.  I’ve had some influence from Jim Butcher, Frank Miller, Will Eisner, and several other great authors.  But in the end my style is my own style.  I tend to like to put my characters through the ringer, and have them come out stronger than they were before.

Are there any books that you’re reading and why?

Let’s see, I just finished Skin Game and Cold Days from Jim Butcher’s the Dresden Files, and I’m starting on Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series with Guilty Pleasures. I’m reading her, and I read Jim Butcher because I enjoy their work. I do plan on reading Ernest Cline’s Armada next. I’m a huge fan of his as well, and I fell in love with Ready Player One after I read it. I know several people complain that it’s too predictable, but I found it to be a wonderful love letter to the 1980’s.

You have a day job besides writing? Do you like it?

I do have  a day job besides writing.  I’m a University Advisor for Northeastern State University, and do I like my job…  It’s okay, but it’s not what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Does your day job get in the way of your writing?

Is a rattlesnake poisonous?  Of course it does.  Typically I’ll get a great idea for a story, or for a novel, and I’ll be helping a student. I have to wait until I’m between appointments, jot the idea down, and hope that I can follow through it later.

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