Welcome to our March First Friday Breakfast with Bill Westlake: a veteran, an engineer, a software developer, and a writer who lives in Michigan with his wife. He spent the 80’s traveling the world with the help of the US Navy and attended college in the 90’s. He has indie published two novels in diverse genres which we will discuss shortly.
This morning I’m having refrigerator oatmeal that a friend living in Lesotho described to me. Last night, I added oatmeal, flax and chia seeds, two tablespoons of diced mango, a few drops of almond flavoring and coconut milk in an 8 oz jar. Before refrigerating, I capped and shook the jar. It made a lovely breakfast this morning. What are you having for your virtual breakfast, Bill?
Steak and eggs, toast with blackberry jam, espresso, a ripe sweet honeydew melon.
Hearty! Tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.
My writing process varies depending on what I am writing, but with Chess Masters it went something like this. I started writing a series of paragraphs to brainstorm ideas. The paragraphs are about a person, in some place, doing something. I wrote many, I don’t recall how many. After several days of reviewing these, and writing more of them, one stood out. It was about a veteran going to college and gun shots in a library. This fired off the creative process and I started writing the story.
From there the story began to evolve in strange ways. I wrote the major action of the first section, then started two more sections that I thought at the time were beginnings to sequels, but as I fleshed out more of the story I began to realize that it would be a very long novel in multiple books, so I decided they would be three parts of a standard length novel.
It took me about a month to write the first draft of the novel, but following that I spent the next year revising and reworking parts, rearranging, and adding in background details. This is probably not the optimal process for writing but it worked for me in this case.
In The Quill I planned out the story a little more in advance, in part because I had this idea of magic that worked according to some logic, but the logic was broken at the core. So to make things consistent I had to work out not only the logic, but then I had to work out how it operated when broken. I have written the first draft of the second novel in Powers of Perfection, The Quill being the first novel of that series, and part of a third. I hope to have the second novel finished soon and ready for publication.
Tell us more about Chess Masters. What inspired your storyline?
Sure. This is good espresso; may I have another? Thanks. (takes a sip) I knew from the start that I wanted to deal with some of the current issues that we were facing in terrorism, but I didn’t want to follow the standard pattern of political or idealistic terrorists. I also wanted to bring back some of the old “Cold War” ideas. The primary inspiration was the, at the time, plans to put defensive missile systems in Eastern Europe to defend against ballistic missile attack from the middle east, a plan that was subsequently scrapped (after publication of the novel). I decided to explore the Russian reaction to this, but soon I developed the idea that powerful people could use such circumstances to try and bring back the Soviet Communist system to Russia.
What did you find fun about writing this story and what was difficult?
The fun part was developing all of the character interactions and the background of Yevgeny Karbonenko especially. I wrote almost a hundred unpublished pages about Yevgeny. I especially enjoyed building the relationship between David and Anne and transforming Anne from business woman into a terrorist hunter.
The difficult part was coordinating the time line, getting all of the bits and pieces to fit together properly. Every time I read through the work I found many plot holes and segments that didn’t work with the rest of the story. I had to painstakingly rewrite these to fit in, and hopefully I closed most of them. I still see a few flaws here and there when I read it myself, but being under no obligation to rewrite the story I will leave those for the readers to find. 🙂
Tell us about your next project and when it may be published.
I am currently writing a historical fiction dealing with the Spanish Inquisition. I have been reading extensively on the subject and have discovered some interesting things that are not in the standard text books. The story follows a character named Nicholas Parthos who is a Christian Monk in a small (fictional) order called Ordo Cristo Maximus. These Monks study and follow a form of Christian Mysticism as they wander the countryside of Spain relentlessly pursued by Bishop Juan Phillipe of the Inquisition. As Bishop Phillipe learns more about their teaching he begins to transform in his thinking, never quite reaching the point of joining with his enemy, but developing strong sympathies for him. At last…well we’ll keep the ending a secret for now.
Thank you for sharing your breakfast and writing life, Bill. Congratulations on your publications and I’m looking forward to the new book and seeing Powers of Perfection published soon.
You can check out Bill Westlake’s Author’s Page at Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Bill-Westlake/e/B004XM5XQC
Before you blast off to Amazon to buy The Quill (http://www.amazon.com/Quill-Powers-Perfection-Bill-Westlake-ebook/dp/B004XJ54PK) or Chess Masters (http://www.amazon.com/Chess-Masters-Bill-Westlake-ebook/dp/B004YR56HW), who would like to join us in a cup of Bill’s favorite espresso?