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Adam Interviews...Reed Logan Westgate!

It's Monday again!

Did you have a good weekend?

Or are you one of those who has an off-center weekend (service industry people tend to have this)?

In any case, here's your interview. Let's talk to Reed Logan Westgate! He hails from Maine (my old stomping grounds), so give him a big welcome!

Reed Logan Westgate was born in Sanford, Maine and attended college in Dover, New Hampshire where he studied Accounting and Finance. He currently works for a non-profit social service agency in the finance department. He married his dream girl whom he met in grade school. They have a loving family with two beautiful daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys tabletop gaming, roleplaying games, and fishing.

Star Trek or Star Wars? I have always been more of a Star Wars fan. I really like the starfighters versus the larger capital ship battles in Star Trek. Plus, who doesn’t love scruffy nerf-herders like Han Solo. I also think I got sucked into the EU back when there were so many books to read. I especially loved the Darth Bane series as well as all of Timothy Zahn’s books.

Firefly – gone too soon or overrated? Gone too soon. First off, the world and space having that cowboy/settler vibe really felt like a home run of a setting. Second, look at the amazingly talented cast. So many talented actors and actresses came together to make Firefly something special. I can’t help it, I still love it and wish there was more.

Coffee, tea, or cacao? Coffee, but very specific. I love Mean Bean Monster Coffee. That’s right, coffee plus energy drink. It will jumpstart your day. Especially when I am binge writing. I like to start my day with a hot shower and cold iced coffee.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I don’t prescribe to the “Write every day” mentality at all. My day job keeps me busy during the week and living in a rural state like Maine means I have an hour’s commute on both sides of my day. By the time I get home and make dinner, I am too bushed to be sitting in front of a keyboard. Instead, my routine is really thinking and plotting on those long drives to and from work. I’ll spend all week thinking about the next scenes, the next couple of chapters, or sometimes I will get an idea for a future scene. Then, when the weekend comes around, I am primed and ready to write. It is not uncommon for me to do a full 8-10 hour day on Saturday just typing up what has been in my head all week. This generally leads to me knocking out many chapters a weekend.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I am a table top gamer and miniature painter. I love all types of games that bring people together. Currently, I am having a blast playing and painting Star Wars Shatterpoint, but I dabble in a bit of everything from pen and paper rpgs to large-scale battle games like Warhammer.

What does your family think of your writing?

My daughters are really proud though sometimes I think I irritate them by focusing too much on my latest projects at the dinner table. My wife and best friend are super proud of what I have accomplished and are very supportive. I don’t think I could have done it without the support of my closest friends and family. That isn’t to say everyone is supportive, though. I definitely have dealt with my fair share of some really negative comments. Most common were people asking why I would want to write books when nobody reads anymore. It’s surprising how hurtful I found these comments early on when I was just starting out and I really struggled emotionally with how many people had something negative to say about what I was doing.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I just finished my sixth book. Asking which is my favorite is like asking which of my children I like best, honestly it is a tough question. I have favorite things about each of my books for different reasons. For example, Dirge of the Dead really shows the growth of my main character, Xlina from the Baku Trilogy. It carries a message that even in the darkest of times, hope can be the light that guides us through. With Soulstealer Origins, I got to jump back into the 1300s and the falls of the Knights Templar. The friendship between Marcus and Oxivius was really the highlight of that book. The spiritual journey that Marcus takes over the course of the book is probably one of my favorite things I have written.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I have been blessed to find some very vocal fans for my Baku-verse. Honestly, what I love hearing is when somebody tells me they hate to read but loved my books. It is such an adrenaline rush. The entire Soulstealer Trilogy came about because fans of the Baku Trilogy voiced that they wanted to know more about Oxivius, the mysterious cannibal necromancer who quickly became a fan favorite.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think in all stories; you need a mix of things. Bad things have to happen. Characters need to be relatable and evoke emotion. Whether a romance or a sword and sorcery, I think what speaks to readers is that ability to draw out emotion. To have the reader vested, not just in the outcome but in the characters. Many people say Star Wars fans are toxic as they argue about characters and ships. I say whenever you have people that are that passionate about your characters, your world, you have done something right.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing replenishes my spiritual cup. Seriously, it is the thing in my life that I feel I was meant to do. My day job is in accounting, which pays the bills just fine but they tend to frown on creativity. So much so that many “creative accountants” end up in jail. Writing is my outlet. It is my chance to build worlds and explore them. I am just grateful that so many folks have tagged along for the adventures and spend some time in my little worlds.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I know for years, I never finished anything. In hindsight, this was a brilliant subconscious stalling tactic. If I never finished anything, then I never would fail. The hope was always out there… someday. It kept the dream alive for nearly twenty years for me. Someday, maybe the next project, and any other excuse I could talk myself into. At the end of the day, it was fear. Fear of putting something out there and having it be totally rejected, because if that happened, then the dream was gone. So from my personal experience, I would say, put the fear aside and take the leap. Finish editing, finish revising, and put your stamp out there for all the world to see.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

My daughters. Writing takes oodles of time and that is time I am taking away from them. So when they want to do something, I do it.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I think this is a trick question, because at the end of the day, everyone wants the same thing. To be entertained. Sure, there are niches within each genre, but what people really crave it that emotional payoff. They want to be invested. You just need to deliver a product worth getting emotionally invested in. For me, I try to tell the best story I can. For instance, I stray away from Vampires in my Urban Fantasy as I feel there is so much vampire stuff out there that it is hard to be me. The lore is too well established. The Baku, a creature that feeds on nightmares, now that’s something I can have fun with.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

I am really world building. I have two trilogies out, The Baku Trilogy and Soulstealer Trilogy. Both sets take place in what I have dubbed my Baku-verse. The characters are connected; the worlds are connected; it is one giant tapestry that I have enjoyed bringing to life.

Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I went self-published, solely because I felt I had waited long enough to put myself out there. I didn’t want to spend a year in the query trenches, hoping to be noticed. There are pros and cons to both routes. I also believe that both routes are perfectly viable. You’ll face many of the same challenges like how do you get the readers to choose your book. At the end of the day, there are many roads up the mountain. Don’t limit your success. If you start down one path, you can always change directions, but if you don’t start, then you’ll never be going anywhere.

What do you have coming next?

I am doing a side story to the Baku Trilogy titled The Druid Of The Morrigu which is going to hone in more on the modern day druids in my Urban Fantasy setting. Then I have a full on sword and sorcery style Fantasy book coming next year that is going to be in a new world outside of my Baku-verse. After seven projects in the shared world, I wanted to take a detour and I had a couple of readers challenge me to write traditional fantasy, so I am going to take a swing at the fences and see how I fare.

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