Author Interview; Forbes West
February 15, 2016 Leave a comment
Here it is. The last of my Author Interviews. I had hoped to continue this blog series, but unfortunately, no matter how many posts I put out looking for authors, hardly anyone replied. To the authors who did, I am honoured and grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with you. May all your publishing dreams come true. It’s been a fun couple of years and I hope you’ve discovered some wonderful, new authors to read.
For my last interview, I bring you Forbes West. A controversial character to be sure, this interview gives you a taste of his unique personality, and a reason why I like him so much. Someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
So let’s begin…
- Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?
Chicago originally. Chicago is a great place to grow resentful and to use your imagination at the same time due to its Russia like climate keeping you indoors 11 months of the year. That sounds awful but I’m tired and it’s past midnighthere in California where I currently live. I like California more. In California you can wear shorts all year long and drink fruity cocktails and if you get bored there’s a desert nearby full of Joshua Trees to shoot off various types of guns and to drink King Cobra and hold impromptu drag races in Japanese cars long past retirement age that stink of cigarettes. I write mostly science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction because my romance novels were all rejected for being too ugly.
- With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
What drew me to writing was that it was like playing the lottery except you can increase your odds by being moderately talented and if you strike it rich a lower percentage of people will think you didn’t deserve your new found wealth. I also like the idea of working alone (for the most part) or choosing who to work with. When I was kid I was sort of lonely so out of sheer boredom I always made up characters and situations and story lines to entertain myself. I still do, but this time I make sure to record what I’m doing and then pass it along to others who might get a kick out of it. So even though it’s a crapshoot, I rather play this tough game for the rest of my life instead of doing the 9-5 wage slave gig. There’s nothing appealing about working life anymore. Even for top earners, it’s like that Bob Dylan song- “You Gotta Serve Somebody”. You’re always on the hook. With writing that is still true but I enjoy it more than doing something I could not possibly care about. The real heroes are the bored ones at low paying no intellectual stimulation McJobs.
- What things influence your writing? Have you ever written them into a story?
What influences my writing the most has been what I learned as a political activist and my own education towards getting a master’s degree in political science. I was around politically active people, I learned history, I learned ideology and I learned political theories. From all of that I came to my own personal conclusion- no one, unless they are completely out of their mind, believes that what they do is evil. There is always self-justification for whatever happens. That’s the true story behind Nazis, Stalinists, and Jihadists. They all have come to this ugly belief that they are fighting to save the world and whatever they have to do is justified. So when I have bad characters or evil people in my stories, I always keep that in mind. Somehow, in someway, they justify their horrors and think they really are the heroes in the end.
- Was there any one influence that made you want to write?
One thing that made me really want to write was to show the complexity of human beings. Again, going back to my more political days, I found out these little anecdotes and stories about world leaders that made you re-evaluate simplistic thoughts on good and evil. There could never have been a Nazi who thought that what they were doing was terrible and there could never have been a Joseph Stalin who thought he wasn’t doing everything possible for the workers. But these creatures lacked empathy for their fellow human beings and decided that whatever they did was right and they were heroic for making “tough decisions”- decisions that destroyed human life. So when I see some writing about some character just being 100% bad, I cringe and tune out. I decided that I should write what I thought to be the truth of how persons act and why they do what they do, because I honestly don’t see that enough in most stories/tv shows/films.
- Expanding on your answer for question 4, have you ever thought of putting a real life event, something that everyone could identify with, into a story?
I’ve put in little things I noticed over the years. Little quirks of behavior, minor incidents, funny insults, jabs or interesting comments. Things like that. I’ve never put something that was 100% real because my reality has never been nearly as interesting as what I’d like to write about. But I do like adding in some stuff to sort of make scenes “feel” real. Especially dialogue, which many times I find in writing to be stilted or off, as if certain authors have never been in the same room as a human being.
- What do you feel is the biggest drawback to the genre ‘scene’?
The only drawback is that it makes your audience expect certain things and makes you yourself feel bound to these certain things. There’s invisible boundaries that seemingly you can’t cross while trying to be creative and original- otherwise you may find that the people you are trying to sell to feel like they were signing up to read something they really didn’t want and they’ll hate it. It’s a very tricky process to try to push the envelope while making sure your audience is satisfied.
I mean, you don’t want to be accused of false advertising if you go too far away from what the genre is about. It makes sense, to a certain degree. I don’t buy something that looks to be scifi and find out its a Regency style romantic play.
- Let’s talk a little about your latest project. What is the title and what is it about?
I’ve got two projects coming out. One is the sequel to Medium Talent, called Bad Dream Man. It follows up the events of what happened in Medium Talent and is just a nice little showcase of how the universe likes to rip the rug right out from under us when we think we managed to escape the worse. There’s zombies and reality ripping itself apart and it’s set in the 1930s of Hemingway’s Key West. So yeah, it’s like that. Wendy Wicker, the young survivor from Medium Talent, has led her family away from the horrors of post-apocalyptic society to the world of the great depression, which is her mind thirty steps up from the tragedies of her own present. But what was supposed to have been fixed in Medium Talent hasn’t, and everything is going wrong quickly. She undertakes a special mission from an very strange source, and the novel is off and running at that point. It should be coming out soon; it was supposed to come out on November 20th with Wonderment Media but they unfortunately closed their doors so I’m doing it on my own.
- What advice would you give to a new author who wants to write in your genre?
For any new author, I think the one piece of advice I would tell them is to take a real long moment to put together your “world”. What I mean is, in scifi and fantasy, you really need to have your world put together for your person(s) to roam around in. You need to know what people think, believe, what they want there, what’s popular, what’s interesting, what’s unusual. It makes it so that the reader feels like they are stepping off the normal plane of existence and becoming a voyeur in a new and exciting world that they have never before seen. I think that all good science fiction/fantasy does this; people become excited and almost wish to live in these places. Think of all the people who wish they were a character in Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. Those universes are so distinct and interesting that people want to know more and more about it. And that I think is what sets them apart in popularity in comparison to other works of art.
- Is there a genre that you would like to write? Something you would find a challenge?
I would like to write Romance one day. I’m sort of a sucker for a well done romance film (Out of Africa, for instance), and I think that it would be an interesting challenge to put together something like that people would like, considering I love to write violent and dark things most of the time.
- Most writers have manuscripts that will never see the light of day. Do you have a few of those?
There’s only one manuscript- Cloudburst, which is basically what Medium Talent became in the end with major revisions. I have one manuscript I’m shopping to agents right now called Resurrection Hero, which is myself and my friend’s take on the superhero genre; we’ll see how that goes for now….
Where to find Forbes online:
Where to find BAD DREAM MAN: AN APOCALYPSE WEIRD NOVEL online: