Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
SRW: Hey, Fiona, thanks much for having me. I’m Stuart R. West, 58 years old. And I feel every year in my tired shell.
Fiona: Where are you from?
SRW: I’m from “Stuck In Kansas.” Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds. I grew up in Kansas and somehow can’t seem to find my way out for one reason or the other. The good news is Kansas is creepy, full of writing fodder. My books practically write themselves, all of them taking place (for the most part) in Kansas.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
SRW: Fiona, I’ve done a lot of strange things over the years… I’ve been a copywriter, public relations lackey, Whizzo the Clown chauffeur, graphic artist, crappy stand-up comedian, art department manager, singer (not very well) and saxophone player (terrible!) in an alternative-funk-country- rock-comedy improv band (I wore pajamas on stage…don’t ask. It wasn’t pretty!), marketing/advertising lackey, and now a novelist with 23 or so books under my belt.
I’m married to a wonderful wife who’s much smarter than me and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. I drive her crazy. And my 27 year old daughter has sold out to The Man and is a banker. Tsk…
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
SRW: My newest book, Corporate Wolf, has been recently released through the great guys at Grinning Skull Press. It’s a darkly comedic horror whodunnit and satire of the corporate world. Just with werewolves. Think An American Werewolf in London (m)eats Office Space.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
SRW: I began eight years ago when the company I’d been suffering through for 28 years collapsed due to stupid business decisions. (They thought moving all production to China would be cheaper; they didn’t factor in the shipping costs and pay-off fees. It ended up costing more to the point of bankruptcy. We went from a company of 350 employees to a skeletal crew of 25. Rats ran through the offices because the trash hadn’t been taken out for a month. Oh, the horror!). Anyway, the reason I started writing is two-fold: A) it’s been a dream since childhood; B) Anything to avoid working for The Man again. It’s soul-deadening.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
SRW: When my first book was picked up, natch.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
SRW: Desperation? No, my first book, Tex, the Witch Boy, was partially autobiographical. Except, um, I’m not a witch nor was there a serial killer offing students at a high school. But all of the bullying stories in the book either happened to me or a friend of mine. I had a lot of anger about those days that I needed to get out. Very cathartic and it appealed to a lot of people.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
SRW: I wanted a name for a guy witch that seemed at odds with the usual gothic trappings. You can’t get any more off-beat than “Tex.”
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
SRW: I think I’m still working on my style, Fiona! If I sat down, looked at my books, I think if anything, I’d say they have an easy-breezy style and attitude . Oh! And I can’t help but put humor in my books. I don’t start that way. Just sorta happens. I’ve even had straight-up horror books, like Corporate Wolf, being infiltrated after a while by gallows humor (i.e., the “Goat Yoga” sequence).
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
SRW: Most of my books have an autobiographical slant to them. (Although, for the record, I swear I’m not a witch, serial killer, demon, werewolf, ghost, or male stripper). In Corporate Wolf, the preface says “This is a true story…kinda…sorta…” A lot of the big business stupidity in the book is based on my experience. Again…no werewolves, though. (Although, come to think of it, it might’ve made it more interesting.)
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
SRW: Not yet. Remember, I’m stuck in Kansas! And, please! For the love of God, no “Toto” jokes!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
SRW: Over the last eight years, I’ve been with about six publishers, but by far my favourite cover artist is the talented Jeffrey Kosh, who does most of Grinning Skull Press’s covers. Just take a gander at Corporate Wolf, Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley, Ghosts of Gannaway, and Dread and Breakfast. Fantastic!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
SRW: I dunno… Stay in milk. Drink school? No, that’s not right. How about be kind to others because you never really know what might happen.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
SRW: Okay, that’s not fair. I have many favourite writers who I’ve crossed paths with and to mention several of them wouldn’t be right to the others. But if anyone’s TRULY interested, send me a PM on Facebook or something and I’ll spill all.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
SRW: Frankly, my wife’s family has been very supportive, much moreso than my own family. They don’t read. Not since they read a book called the Bible. You heard of it? I think it’s a best-seller.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
SRW: Yep! But I need to supplement it with something else, hence why I’m currently pursuing another sideline.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
SRW: That’s another trick question, Fiona, one designed to drive writers nuts! Of course, there’re things I’d change! But that’s a deep black hole I’d never get out of if I kept going back and back and back… Nope, tuck the babies in bed and move on.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
SRW: Yes, don’t write such long books because when I did a trade show, the weight in the suitcase was killing me!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
SRW: Don Knotts. No, wait…
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
SRW: Not really. I haven’t met a writer yet who actually, you know, listens to me.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
SRW: Please read my books so I don’t have to rejoin the soul-destroying corporate world! I’m begging you! Tell you what…if you don’t enjoy my book, I’ll give you a guarantee: you can come to my house and punch me in the face!*
*Offer only valid within the next hour.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
SRW: The Darkest Veil by Catherine Cavendish.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
SRW: Does Highlights Magazine count? Playboy?
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
SRW: Any movie that puts dogs in jeopardy or death makes me weep like a baby. Really, really, REALLY awesomely bad movies make me laugh.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
SRW: Maybe Edgar Allan Poe. I’d ask him…”What’s your deal, Ed?”
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
SRW: Reading, music, watching bad movies, beer.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
SRW: Sigh… Go become a business drone again.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
SRW: I’d probably clean out the bedroom closet. My wife’s been after me to do it for years.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
SRW: “Well…that’s that.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
SRW: I do. Thanks for asking, Fiona! Here are links a-plenty:
*Stuart R. West’s (totally inconsequential) blog: Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley