Monday, August 6, 2012
Interview: Michael West
Michael West is the critically-acclaimed author of Cinema of Shadows, Skull Full of Kisses, and The Wide Game. He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their bird, Rodan, and turtle, Gamera.
He loves to walk on the beach, but he still doesn’t think it’s safe to go back in the water.
The Stand and 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King, The Books of Blood by Clive Barker, and Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.
Inspirations for Poseidon's Children?
The idea for Legacy of the Gods series came to me in a dream—a very vivid, very strange dream. Some dreams fade as soon as you open your eyes. Others stick with you for days. This particular dream has been with me for over twenty years. It involved an ancient stone temple, with odd markings etched into its walls, and a very seductive sea-creature. Most people have fantasies about movie stars and musicians; mine get directed by H.P. Lovecraft. Go figure.
Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
Not really, but I’ve always loved telling a good story. Before I could write, I drew pictures to illustrate the tales that were spinning inside my head. Then, as I got older, I wanted to be the next Steven Spielberg or James Cameron, so I wrote screenplays and made films with my parents’ video camera. And when the stories that I wanted to tell finally outgrew my meager budgets, that's when I turned to writing short stories and novels.
Any Pet Peeves?
I hate writing that first draft. For me, that’s the most difficult thing in the world, just getting all the
words out onto the page and giving the story a beginning, middle, and end. But once it’s out there,
once I get into the editing process and the re-writes, that’s when I’m most happy. I’ve spoken to writers who feel just the opposite, they love getting it all out there and hate doing edits, but I view it the way a sculptor views a huge block of marble; it’s a pain, getting that stone into the studio, but, when you start to chip away at it, when it starts to look like what you envisioned, or, in some cases, better than what you envisioned…there’s no greater feeling in the world than that.
I also hate weak or poorly written characters. I think the most important element of writing is creating good, believable characters. You can have the most original plot in the world, an amazing monster or villain, but, if the reader doesn’t care about the people in your story, they’re not going to read it. That’s why a lot of movies made from horror novels fail. The filmmakers concentrate on the Big Bad—the vampire, demon, what-have-you—and the characters get short shrift. When you really care about the people in a story, you get lost in the narrative and you feel things on a very visceral level. That’s the type of connection I strive for in my own writing.
Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Chocolate. I'm deathly allergic to Peanut Butter.
The weirdest thing you've ever done?
What happens at the 1988 Def Leppard concert stays at the 1988 Def Leppard concert.
Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
I do tend to listen to a lot of film scores while I write. Usually it is Jerry Goldsmith or John
Carpenter...something that fits the mood of what I'm doing. For this novel, I did listen to a lot of
Leviathan, The Fog, and Total Recall.
Do you need anything to write?
I’ve got a coffee mug covered in artwork from my short story “Jiki.” I usually fill that up and turn on music, either film soundtracks or 80s music, I can’t work when it’s totally quiet. I also like the room to be as dark as possible, so I will turn off lights or close blinds before I start.
How long do you write on any average day?
It depends. There are some days I work on a project for hours at a time, and other days when I'm lucky if I can type for five minutes.
Give us the number one reason to read your book.
This is a story that has something for everyone: ancient civilizations, Cthulhu-style monsters, mobsters, action, sex, violence...you name it, it’s in there. I think it is unique in that it weaves these very different elements together into a coherent, cohesive story that moves along at a break-neck pace and offers characters that are real and engaging. As one of the reviewers has already commented, “You’ve never read anything like this before.”
My website: http://www.bymichaelwest.com
Man no longer worships the old gods; forgotten and forsaken, they have become nothing more than myth and legend. But all that is about to change. After the ruins of a vast, ancient civilization are discovered on the ocean floor, Coast Guard officers find a series of derelict ships drifting in the current-high-priced yachts and leaking fishing boats, all ransacked, splattered in blood, their crews missing and presumed dead. And that's just the beginning. Vacationing artist Larry Neuhaus has just witnessed a gruesome shark attack, a young couple torn apart right before his eyes....at least, he thinks it was a shark. And when one of these victims turns out to be the only son of Roger Hays, the most powerful man in the country, things go from bad to worse. Now, to stop the carnage, Larry and his new-found friends must work together to unravel a mystery as old as time, and face an enemy as dark as the ocean depths