Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest Blog Entry: Rob West

I have known Rob for quite a while now. We met through another friend and he joined my gaming group.

(Insert brief rant about how no one likes gaming stories, and yes, I'm going to tell a gaming story.)

(Here, have a song to go with it.)

The hooker had information. She was being harassed by the bad guy and she knew - while not what his plans were - where he'd been going. If approached AT ALL nicely or asked any specific questions, she would have dished out, the plot would have moved along.

Rob's character went over to talk to her. He managed to insult her, imply she was both stupid and ugly, and that she probably didn't know anything useful anyway. She wasn't happy, refused to cooperate, and left my players without a clear path as to where to go next. The other players razzed Rob a bit for this, to which he responded:

"I don't have the 'talk to prostitutes' skill!"

Oh, we noticed that...

(end gaming story)

Rob and I have been friends for going on nine years now, and I've known he wanted to write pretty much from the beginning. We used to have loud, angry arguments about writing. Primarily because he used to write me the most horrible, un-punctuated, terrible grammar, bad spelling emails. Ever.

Bad habits, to me, are, well, habit forming.

I believe that if you write bad emails, you'll write bad prose. Or, at least, writing well will no longer come naturally to you. (For instance, my bad habit of writing ellipses... or using parenthesis - or em-dashes! - in blog posts leads to my doing the same thing in stories, which I then have to EDIT OUT. Did you see what I just did there? did you?)

Rob does not believe that. He believes that he can wear sweat pants with holes in them every day, and still clean up nice and put on a tux for special occasions and be perfectly comfortable. As we're both published writers now, and we still argue about writing emails properly.

What are your greatest challenges in your writing career?

At the current point I am at in my writing career I would have to say not letting myself get burned out by doing too much at once, but at the same time not doing too little or allowing myself to get distracted too much by other activities.

When did you find out that you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a kid and I was lying in bed about to go to sleep I would always run stories through my head. Basically they were “episodes” of shows I liked where I made up what happened. This was where I knew I had stories to tell. Eventually those “episodes” became my own shows and those shows evolved into longer individual stories. I didn’t actually try to write any of these until I was a teenager and I had trouble keeping focused but I knew it was what I wanted to do.

Of your published works, do you have a favorite? Why?

My story “The Truth of the Hunt” in the anthology “Darkest Desires.” I really had fun with that story and loved the characters. I was able to write that one really quickly because it was just so perfectly formed in my head.

Are there any mistakes that you find yourself making regularly?

I will never be good at then vs than. I constantly get it wrong and have to edit it. Also commas are one of my greatest enemies.

Me: commas seem to be everyone's greatest enemy. 

Do you ever want to go back and edit an older story?

I have two storylines I want to return to when I finish my faerie series.

How do you decide on character names?

Sometimes the names just come to me as in the case of the two main characters in my faerie series, and sometimes I have to use name generators. It really depends on the character and the setting. With the characters in one of my older story ideas I have to just make them up as their names are unique to their species and no name generator on the planet could help with that.

Tell me about your first publication. Who was it with? How did you feel when you got that acceptance?

It was an erotic short story called Princess Illia. The anthology is called The Dark Hunger and is an erotic horror series. The main author/editor is a wonderful woman named Candy Crum who also has her own vampire series of novels out. When I got this story in it was amazing because it literally came before my first rejection. Then came the second and third stories I got published. All three of these together showed me that it wasn’t a fluke and that I might actually have a future in this business.

What's the worst thing that ever happened to you that you've incorporated into a story?

Listening to that old man tell his son he couldn’t have a Barbie doll because it would make him gay. I felt so bad for that kid and that scene managed to find its way into a very important part of my faerie story line. There are incidents in my life that are worse than this but I haven’t worked those into a story yet. I will if the situation arises that calls for it.

How much of your life and the people you know end up in your work?

Not so much as of yet but I do plan to do more with this. A character here and there is based on people from my life but just loosely.

What's your writing routine?

I do most of my main writing right after breakfast usually from about 9-12 give or take a few minutes. If inspiration comes at me later in the day I will of course jump on it.

What writers or novels do you consider “must reads”?

To anyone who likes Vampire stories the Eternal Hunger series by Candy Crum is a must read. This series needs to be where Twilight and The Hunger Games are right now. It is very deserving of it.

To anyone who likes Faerie stories I recommend The Faerie Path series by Frewin Jones

Of course for your epic fantasy I would Recommend The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Of course the Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien.

As for my computer desk as you can see it's a mess. On the right are my faerie figurines who act act as Muses sometimes. I don't have nearly enough of them. In front of my monitor you can see the 5 gumball machine items in a row on the right and on the left my row of cowrie shells. Because Cowries are awesome. All of my published stories have come from this desk and the novel I am working on has as well. 

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