Why did you write WEST? I was born in Minnesota, moved to southern California at six with my four siblings and parents, to the northeast at 34 taking my wife and two children with me, then to San Diego years later—the excitement and fear of not knowing what lay ahead bred into me. I was headed north and stuck in traffic at the merging of two major freeways in Del Mar, California. I found myself looking at the rolling hills to the east and the ocean to the left. A question hit me: What kind of person would risk taking his family across America in 1849? That was the seed that took root and produced this story.
Why did you use “found” journals as your way of telling WEST? I look for different ways of storytelling to give readers something other than their usual experience. To tell a powerful story using journals and letters, with their sparse scene-setting and lack of dialog, was a definite challenge.
What’s been the reaction of most readers to WEST? I put WEST in front of two reading clubs, just to gauge their reactions. Half the readers thought it was true/non-fiction, the other guessed it was fiction. Most were moved to tears, an accomplishment I hoped for, but wasn’t sure would work.
Why write a 5-part series? It didn’t start that way, but WEST had “legs.” Hearing the constant question from readers, “Whatever happened to Sarah, Simon, and Rebecca?” prompted me to look further. I chose a fascinating character who aided Sarah from WEST and wrote Mr. Meeks. Then plans emerged to complete North (Simon’s story), South (Sarah’s story), and East (Rebecca’s story) to finish the series.