Today I had the honor of interviewing an amazing author as well as a veteran; Christopher Westley. When he is not flying in a helicopter or travelling the world, you can find him at home, writing amazing books and editing Seven Days To Brooklyn, his newest novel.
Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?
A: I have been writing for nearly two decades, starting in college.
Writing is a good escape from the daily stressors of life, just as reading a book or watching a well-made movie.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: Inspiration comes from many avenues, but I am inspired mostly to do my best. Big name Authors, but mostly I am inspired by the sense of accomplishment when I finish a novel.
My muse or source of inspiration: Clive Cussler, Stephen King and a few others. This is why you need a good editor….because, mostly is mostly overused!
Q: You were enlisted in the U.S. army for a three-year tour. Does that have any influence on your writing? How did that experience change your life?
A: The Army will always influence those that served. Many of the situations that I detail in Seven Days to Brooklyn are based on military protocols and experience. Although, I will state that I never went to war even though I served during desert storm and never shot anyone. I am thankful for that and am grateful to have served and appreciate those that are still serving, we owe them more than we could ever pay them. Military life instills discipline and structure; at age 19, it was a good fit for me. Every day, I use things in daily life that I learned in the military.
Q: You are an avid traveler. Tell me about the places you’ve been. Where was your favorite place? Least favorite?
A: I recently drove to Alaska, up the Alcan Highway with my wife and cat (Angel). The rest of last summer, we lived in a 16×16’ cabin on a remote lake on the Kenai Peninsula, while I flew for the US Forest Service, fighting wildfires. Other places of note include: Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Canada and I have been through every state, adding Alaska last year. My most favorite place is Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Least favorite, Virginia; it is not a bad state, we just prefer to live in the western states.
Q: If you could visit one of the places you’ve travelled but in a different time period, when and where would it be? Why?
A: The Yukon, during the gold rush. It is still a very remote place and one of the most beautiful places I have visited on the planet. It is refreshing to drive down the highway and not see another car for hours. I am a risk taker, so I’m pretty sure if I had lived in the 1800, early 1900s, I would be out there digging for gold in a mountain stream.
Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into your writing?
A: Writing is tough work. The headliners spend months on end, 14+ hours a day or more banging away at the keyboard throwing their mental energies into trying to make a story readable and acceptable to the public. It took four years to write Seven Days to Brooklyn, and a couple of months editing (we are just finishing up now.) The next two books, I wrote in four months. Just to clarify, the two I just wrote in the last four months, was full time writing nearly six days a week at least four to eight hours a day or more. Once the juices get flowing, I just go with it. Writing is like that, some days you can bang out 7000 words, the next day you will be lucky to get 500. I also spend a lot of time researching what goes into the book, just to make it as accurate and truthful as possible, even though it is fiction.
Q: You have said that you love coffee; especially a cappuccino. How much coffee would you say you drink every day?
A: Cappuccino is my kryptonite. Some days I drink 1 cup of coffee, other days as much as six, but I try to stick to two cups a day.
Q: Which of the characters you have created is most like you? In what way?
A: My characters are fiction, but I guess they all have a piece of me in them. My experiences definitely play a part in what or how the character reacts. I’ve never killed a zombie before, but do know how to chop some brushy jungle down with a machete’ and have spent days on end walking in the Army. I also fly helicopter and have a fixed wing rating (airplane) so my main character Sara Robinson, fly’s and I use firsthand knowledge but keep the terminology simple for my reader (nobody wants to hear the technical jargon of wing twist, etc., lift and those boring things, unless you are reading a technical publication on aircraft. Sara is a survivalist, like myself and has to overcome many things en-route across the states, much like I have with various jobs and travels.
Q: What advice do you wish you received when you were in high school?
A: High School advice: High school teaches you the basics. I.E. how to go to lunch, add a+b to get c and basically interact with other students. What they need to teach you is how to function in the job market and how to deal with difficult bosses and difficult work situations. You learn this by doing. Myself, I have learned it by making lots of mistakes.
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: All humanity should know that life and people are generally good. To put it simply; the Dalai Lama and Buddhist teachings view all people as their mother. In doing so, this makes them appreciate even the most difficult person or someone they really do not like. Viewing that person and treating them with respect and kindness like they would do for their mother alleviates a lot of problem in and of itself. The golden rule, that’s what they should teach you daily in school.
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