Today, after great deliberation and in honor of the failed Swiss expedition to Mars (December 13, 1969) which resulted in such a tragic loss of life, I’d like to welcome CJ West to the program. As you probably know from your high school history lessons, the Swiss rocket prematurely ignited while the astronauts and launch crew were enjoying a last minute fondue at Le Grande Chien restaurant down the road. The rocket, unmanned and without steerage, rose several hundred yards into the air before wavering, yawing to starboard, whereupon, with all boosters suddenly firing, it plunged down to earth in the middle of Herr Fritz Steubeneinz’s cow pasture. Many cows were lost and Switzerland’s space program was set back several decades. Now, without further ado, here’s CJ West (oh, and by the way, it might prove worth your while if you make sure to read all the way down to the end of the post).
CJ, thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to drop in. I trust you’re well, healthy and no longer on the run from the Swiss. Why don’t you begin and tell the audience a bit about yourself?
I grew up in rural Massachusetts in a town my family has been in for 100 years. Living here I developed a love for hunting, farming, hiking.. any outdoor sport really. My first career was in computer technology and I worked with consulting firms including Arthur Andersen to help businesses better manage their computer infrastructure. I thought I loved that work until I discovered writing.
So what got you into writing? I suspect it was the farming. I work on a farm myself, and there’s nothing like a recalcitrant head of lettuce to make you gnash your teeth and think about a career change.
In 1999, I received a few books on writing and began tinkering with my first novel. I loved the process and to this day writing gives me a freedom to enjoy creativity that I couldn’t unleash any other way.
Why don’t you tell us about your books?
When I write, I explore something that is meaningful to me. I shape a story around a central question and usually set the book somewhere here in New England. My last book is a good example. I was struggling with the notion that we are limited by our upbringing. I wrote The End of Marking Time, which is a modern 1984 that explores the prospects of a man who was raised by a mother who had few parenting skills and less money. Michael is trapped in an ultra-modern criminal justice system and he asks the reader to set him free. The book is somewhat experimental as it employs first, second and third person point of view. It’s also a very thought-provoking book because it asks each of us to decide whether Michael should be given another chance or not.
I also write the Randy Black series about an anti-hero in search of redemption.
Are there any books or authors that have influenced you a lot?
Sommerset Maugham wrote a book of short stories that heavily influenced my writing. I’ve since passed it on so don’t have the title. Relic, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child inspired me to create great monsters. Finally, The 6th Sense, inspired me (the movie version) to write books that surprise and delight readers by showing them something and then turning it on its head.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Or farmers, if you prefer.
The best advice for writers is to write a great book, and prepare it professionally. Marketing advice seems to go out of date the moment it is printed.
What inspires you to write?
I love writing. It is that simple. I look at the world like a really smart three year old and I’m always wondering why and what if? My inspiration grows out of those questions.
Do you wish to achieve anything specific with your writing (other than influence Switzerland to make reparations to Herr Steubeneinz, of course)?
I hope to support myself and my family as a writer. This goal is becoming achievable for more and more writers with the digital revolution and I hope to be among them.
Exiting the planet is essentially a given. Writers leave a mark behind them that is somewhat unique in comparison to non-writers. How do you wish to be remembered when you take your last bow?
My hero is a woman who cared for many children. She had a huge impact on my family and dozens of others. I hope that people remember me for my kindness and patience.
Where can your rabid fans hunt you dow… er, I mean, find… well, where can they get in contact with you?
I enjoy interacting with fans. If you are in New England, you can find me acting in live murder mystery events. If you are outside New England, you can connect with me on Facebook. My social media links are all listed on my website at www.22wb.com. I also host a monthly book group for indie writers and a companion Blog Talk Radio program.
Thanks, CJ, for stopping by. We wish you the best of luck with your writing career and all of your other pursuits!
You can find CJ West’s books on Amazon if you click on the next sentence following this sentence. They are available in ebook format, as well as paperback (and, yes, this is the aforementioned next sentence). However, one tiny little thing I’d like to add about CJ is that he is doing amazingly cool giveaways for the entire year of 2012. The giveaways involve a free Kindle Fire each and every month. It doesn’t get much better than that (unless there was also a complimentary fondue with each Fire, of course). If you’re interested, check out the giveaway here. Tell your friends.