Author R. G. Westerman
R.G.Westerman has been writing for as long as she has been able to hold a pen. She currently lives in Tennessee with her gorgeous husband and their two genius children. When she obtained her Master’s Degree in Marketing, she decided to use the knowledge to begin her writing career in earnest. She works as a freelance ghostwriter when she is not selling her wares on Amazon or Patreon.
- How long have you been writing?
For a long time, honestly! My mother will tell you that I used to punch out Cinderella fanfic on our old MacIntosh when I was in the sixth grade. I thought I was good then. I remember in middle school my friends and I would write these small snippets of prose, usually just a description of a forest or something, but we fancied ourselves quite the writers.
- What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I like anything to do with the bizarre and unusual. Aliens, vampires, werewolves, zombies. I love the classic monsters. Especially when they are done in a fresh way. I enjoy fiddling with established ideas and turning them on their head.
- Why did you choose that particular field or genre?
My current book came about because I am a huge fan of the Walking Dead, (but let’s be real, who isn’t?). I wanted to create a scenario in which there was this girl who had grown up in a world like that. Many of those stories often deal with it happening right then and the people have to adapt. I wanted to see what it would be like for someone who had spent some time in a world like that, especially during their formative years.
- What inspires you?
What doesn’t! Probably my earliest influences include Vonnegut and Bradbury. Their short stories especially have a way of capturing the sublime that simmers just beneath the surface of normalcy. Sometimes I like to find that subtlety. Other times I just push the limits to see what happens.
- Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing, etc. come from?
I used to read a lot as a child and teenager. My mom read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to me when I was young. I think that kicked off the idea of other realms and magical creatures. I think that is probably where it started.
- How do you find or make time to write?
The answer to this question used to be that I would write whenever I found the time, either after the kids went to bed or if I woke up early in the morning. A couple of years ago I made a grand declaration to my husband that I wanted to make a living as a writer. I said I didn’t care what or how, but as long as I was putting words in a row and someone was giving me money for it, I would consider that a win! Then I started researching some of the freelance sites to see what jobs I could get. Finally I was able to bring in enough to replace my day job. That gave me the drive to figure out just what I am capable of as far as producing word count and content. Then I started to apply those same skills to my own work. The rest, as they say, is history.
- Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
Normally I start with a character. I have a background in acting, so building the character is super important to my process. Then I harness the character and put them in a situation of sorts. At that point they usually take over. It doesn’t matter where I THINK the story should go. Once they start doing their thing, I have to just get out of the way and keep typing.
- How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
Eventually one realizes just how important it is to do what you love. If you look hard enough there is a way to make money doing it, whatever it may be. That being said, I don’t think I could have pulled any of this off without the internet. I’m extremely grateful that I live in this age with this technology to connect people in ways that has never been done before.
- What projects are you working on at the moment?
My biggest project is the Rising Ash serial, but I already have some backburner projects simmering. One called “End of Days”, which was my first win with NaNoWriMo.
- What process did you go through to get your work published?
Currently I am publishing through Amazon. I consider self-publishing to be the garage band equivalent of the publishing world. It may be rough around the edges, but real talent will still show through. I have also been submitting short stories to anthologies. I feel as if I am very early in the publishing journey.
- What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Time and space. Getting away from the distractions of life is a huge challenge. Once I find my little quiet spot, I’m good to go. Finding that headspace though, can take some doing.
- What do you enjoy most about writing? Share your favorite work.
I like being able to create characters that take on a life of their own. When I can sprint-write or do a word race with someone else my mind goes into this whole different dimension. I don’t even know what I’ve written until I go back and look. I did one once in which I was writing a fallen-angel paranormal story for Nanowrimo. At the end of the sprint I glanced over the page and said, well how about that. The story has vampire’s now. Great.
- What is the biggest thing people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t true?
That’s the beauty of fiction of any kind. I always laugh when people scoff at the idea of Twilight’s sparkly vampires. When people rage on that vampires don’t sparkle I like to quietly point out that vampires are a fictional creature. If the author wants them to sparkle, they will. The same is true of anything else. If someone wants talking zombies, they can write talking zombies. If I want to create a world in which pineapples turn out to be a long-dormant alien species, I can do that. It’s fiction.
- What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they should?
Right now I’m writing about zombies. I have been fascinated with the zombie genre and the many layers of symbolism behind them. The representation of consumption taken to the extreme is just one example. I also think there is kind of a desire to get find a way to a simpler world in which zombies are the only credible threat. You can see them and handle them directly, unlike looming student loans or the terrible political climate or what have you.
- For those interested in exploring the subject/theme of your work, where should they start?
The YA section of the local library. Nearly everything there involves magical creatures or some kind of dystopian world.
- What are some ways in which you promote your writing? Do you find that these add or detract from your writing time?
Doing the self-publishing thing is a real challenge for marketing, but so important. I have an author page on facebook under R.G. Westerman where I post a lot of updates. Also on Twitter @rgwesterman. Probably the absolute best way to keep up with what I am doing to to sign up for my newsletter at http://rgw0628.wix.com/author
- Who are some of your favorite authors? What impact have they had on your writing?
Hm… Let’s see. Kurt Vonnegutt, Ray Bradbury those were my first to fave’s back when I first started realizing that there were writers like that out there. Then I eveolved into William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Anne Rice, of course. My current obsessions are with Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett (rip). It goes without saying to include J.K Rowling and Stephen King. I can only hope to be able to evoke the same power of words that any of these names have done.
- What makes your writing stand out from the crowd?
I write from a place of honesty as much as I am able. I can say that I am doing my best to tell the story and to let the story be told. How much it stands out is yet to be determined.
- What are you currently reading?
I just finished Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. From a marketing standpoint there is a lot of wisdom within the book. I think many of us creative types shy away from getting our stuff out there. That is why agents have the jobs that they do, but in our current artistic culture, we are provided an opportunity to get ourselves out there on our own terms. This book deals with that, and challenges the elements of self doubt that come with being a creative person. In this world of crowdfunding and self-publishing we have the freedom to connect with people without having to go through a gate keeper. It’s up to us to work through the self-doubt, reach out and make those connections.
- What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
I don’t think it will change all that much. With the advent of the Kindle and other reading devices, everyone was worried that the book would no longer be relevant. I think that is ridiculous. People love books, the smell of the paper, the feel of the pages in our hands. And some people love the convenience of a reading device. Either way, the exchange is still an idea written down by one and consumed by another. It will always be that simple.
Thanks for letting Our Write Side interview you!
You can purchase R.G. Westerman’s Ash below, and order a copy of the 2nd book in the Rising Ash series, Blaze below: