Meet another amazing young author, Kyle West. The Wasteland Chronicles Series was fantastic. They were my favorite series in 2014. I even read each book twice. Please enjoy the interview and check out Kyle’s books.
A big thank you to Kyle for taking the time to answer my questions.
Let’s start with getting the formalities out of the way-
Tell me a little about yourself, age, location, family, etc.
About me…I am 27 years old. I live in Oklahoma City and have lived here for the last ten or so years. I originally moved up here from Texas to go to OU, and graduated with a degree in journalism. Despite that, I’ve always been drawn to writing fiction.
I’m pretty busy with my writing, but some of my other hobbies are lifting weights and running. I like to think of myself as a simple guy who writes about some strange things.
What is something you’d like to share that most people don’t know about you?
I can’t really think of a good answer for this.
What books have you published and/or had your works featured in?
Besides The Wasteland Chronicles and The Xenoworld Saga, the only other work I’ve written is a zombie game book called Night of the Necromancer. I usually don’t advertise it because it’s not very well-written and I really want to go back and fix it some day. If you’ve read any books in the Choose Your Own Adventure series that were popular back in the eighties and nineties, it’s a lot like that.
What has been your favorite story or novel to write and what inspired you to write it?
It’s hard to decide. I’ve felt the same, more or less, for every novel I’ve written. Prophecy was probably the hardest one to write for sure, and if you held a gun to my head, I’d say Xenofall was my favorite to write.
As far as inspiration…I don’t know how I get my crazy ideas. Some of it comes from books, and some of it comes from video games, but I think most of it comes from my head.
I loved The Wasteland Chronicles. How did you come up with all of the characters? Anna had to be my favorite character. Which character was your favorite and why?
The characters just show up and revealed themselves to me as the story progressed. I didn’t plan on making Anna, or any of the characters for that matter. They just sort of happened organically. Makara was based on some of the tougher women I’ve known in life, and Anna I guess was a softer version of her…someone Alex could relate to more. As far as my favorite character, I really like Anna as well, but I also have a soft spot for Makara and I really like the Wanderer as well. I definitely didn’t plan on coming up with so many different characters, and sometimes I wish I could have gone more into depth on some of them…but it’s hard to do that when it’s written with a first person point of view.
What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
Greatest accomplishment so far is the fact that I’ve been able to sit down and write so many words. It wasn’t any one big thing I did…it was a lot of little things.
Have you had any disappointments that just really got to you? If so, would you care to share what it was and why?
Writing has its ups and downs. Starting out, I was really disappointed with the lack of interest The Wasteland Chronicles had. It was almost completely off the radar for the first eight months. The first negative reviews I got were tough as well.
But compared to these minor disappointments, the amazingness of being able to write full time is hard to put to words. Over a year later, it seems more real, but it was really quite unbelievable to me when I first started writing full-time.
Who does the covers for your books and do you help in designing them?
My good buddy Luke Atkinson does my covers. I met him in college and he is an incredibly talented graphic designer. I actually have a lot of input in the design. It’s usually me shooting an idea, and Luke doing a mock up. He lets me know whether or not I’m being too grandiose and he sets to work and it turns out beautifully every time.
What author(s) inspired you the most to become a writer and at what age? What was it about them that inspired you? What would be your favorite book(s) by that author?
Ever since I learned to read, I was reading. I was very hyperactive child (which is funny to think now, because now I’m pretty quiet and reserved), but the one exception to that was reading. I really dived into the fantasy genre – The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Redwall Series, The Wheel of Time…anything that was fantasy, I pretty much liked it. I read outside that genre, too, but I was almost always reading something.
As far as inspiration, The Wheel of Time was probably my biggest influencer, because I wanted to write something just like it in terms of its scope. The Wasteland Chronicles is quite different from that book – I had my fist idea for WC back in 2007, but it never got off the ground until 2012. I don’t know. Pretty much every book I’ve ever read and enjoyed has some way impacted my writing and my style.
Are there any new authors that have become favorites of yours?
Not so much new authors, but “new to me” authors. I recently read a Neil Gaiman book for the first time and it was pretty good – American Gods and I’ll definitely check out more of his work. Also, I read The Wasteland Saga by Nick Cole. I was intrigued just because of the title and it turned out to be a very different view of the apocalypse. Same setting as my own work, but more literary in bent. It was very good, but it’s a different type of book than The Wasteland Chronicles.
You write mostly si-fi/fantasy books. What characteristic of that genre do you feel is most important when writing? Or the most fun for you to write?
I think building a world that makes sense is most important in both sci-fi and fantasy. It’s an interesting genre, because for people to be able to buy your fake world, it has to be based on reality. Little details like snippets of culture, what they use as currency, how people dress, what people eat and why they eat that, down to how the typical person goes about their day…all of these things have to seamlessly flow through the book. It’s the canvas upon which you paint the story. Some writers can go overboard and the story gets lost, while others don’t give enough details. Trying to strike that perfect balance definitely takes a bit of practice.
Another thing that goes without saying: unexpected twists. If it’s something I as the author didn’t see coming, I get really excited and have to go with it, even if it means throwing my former plan to the wind.
Would you ever consider writing in a different genre? If so, what would it be and why?
After Xenoworld I will probably either write something that’s hard sci-fi (like a intergalactic empire type of book), or a high fantasy series. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a romance, but that would just be for fun. I don’t even read romance, so it would be interesting to say the least.
When writing, how much research goes into your work? What has been the most interesting thing you have had to research? What has been the most fun thing in your research?
I did the most research for Apocalypse. Figuring out how Bunker 108 ran took a bit of research. I had to pick the right size meteor to hit Earth, and I had to research what would actually happen if that ever occurred. I had to research how hydroponics worked, how parachuting worked (I’ve had someone email me about the skydiving scene in Evolution, saying I had obviously skydived before which I never have. That made me proud). I also did some research on Ancient Rome, since the Empire’s politics was sort of based on Rome. Also, whether it was possible to blow up Hoover Dam without a nuke. I’m sort of surprised the NSA didn’t contact me for that one. Also, I did some research about the railgun in Xenofall. There are a lot of random things I’ve had to research, and still I probably come across like an idiot at various points to readers who are more knowledgeable than me.
How do you come up with or what inspires you to come up with the ideas for your novels, novellas and short stories?
The first seed of the idea for WC was planted in 2007. I started learning about past extinctions in geology class – how a meteor was likely the cause for the dinosaurs getting wiped out. It wasn’t too much of a jump to wonder if it could happen again. Some people have said that either a meteor or comet is the most likely ways nature could utterly wipe humanity from the planet along with most life.
So…that’s how the idea started. The video game Fallout might have inspired the bunker system while the video game, Starcraft, was a huge inspiration for how the Radaskim worked. And a lot of it probably just came out of my head, too. Even as a kid I liked drawing pictures of monsters.
What are you currently working on and what else do you have planned for 2015?
2015 will be the year of the Xenoworld Saga. The series will have at least three more books in order to wrap up. It sort of depends on what my readers want. Not as many people are reading Xenoworld but I really love the story and the potential it has. It’s only going to get better as it goes on. Book 3 will be particularly mind blowing, as well as 4.
On a more personal note –
What are some of your likes and dislikes in movies, books, food, drinks, activities, music, etc, or anything else you would like to let us know about you?
As might be expected, I like anything sci-fi and fantasy (well, almost anything). Food – I’m really into healthy stuff for the most part, but pizza is still my all time favorite food. I really like music, too, and finding new music used to be pretty big interest of mine until writing took over.
If you could change anything about your life, past or present, or both, what would it be, if anything?
I wouldn’t change anything. Everything bad and good has made me who I am. However, I would have invested heavily in Apple and Google back in 2000 or so if I had the chance, but that probably wasn’t the kind of answer you were looking for.
What is the best thing a fan has said to you? The most funny thing? The worst thing?
It’s hard to remember sometimes. The best email I got was pretty early in my career. A great grandma who was 90 years old was reading my books and emailed me about it, and it absolutely blew my mind. She said something funny in that email that I really can’t remember, and sadly I don’t have it anymore.
The worst thing, I don’t know. I’ll sometimes get someone who says they like the books, but they didn’t like the way the story turned out in the end, or that I was really sloppy at a points, which can be true. Then again, I’m far from a perfectionist so those comments don’t bother me all that much.
I lived in Oklahoma for a bit. Were you born and raised there and what do you like most and least about living there?
I moved here in 2006 to go to OU and have stayed. I like the friendliness of the people. OKC is a large town, but it doesn’t really feel like a large town. It’s kind of a strange city and it has a lot to offer, which a lot of people who have never been here wouldn’t really think. As far as dislikes, you have to drive just about everywhere and it gets really, insanely hot in the summer. And I HATE tornadoes. They freak me out so much.
Where can fans find and contact you on the web? Blogs, websites, etc.
My blog is kylewestwriter.wordpress.com and is my main platform for communication, along with my facebook fan page.