Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday Stories, David West

Today's guest is David West. One of the first blogs I stumbled across when I ventured into the world of blogging. I love to swing by his blog when he posts his "Strange Sightings of the Week." You're guaranteed a good laugh.

To learn more about David you can check out his blog Nephite Blood and Spartan Heart or follow him on Twitter. But before you do, make sure to read the interview.

Q--Tell us about yourself. Something fun.
Greetings, I'm David J. West. I'm gonna get any scandals out of the way right now and bet that of all the LDStorymakers, I have been in jail the most. And no, I'm not a cop. 

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but have only been actively working toward being published since 2008. My first novel Heroes of the Fallen was published last year. So I must be doing something right. 

I like to travel, collect swords and a lot of books. I lean toward historical and fantasy fiction but also have westerns, sci-fi and horror stories under my belt. I have three kids and a wonderful wife (Debi) who grants me a lot of support and encouragement to get my writing done.

Q--Tell us how you got published? The query process, deciding which publisher you wanted, etc.
The first book was 225,000 words. It was way too big for a first time author in the LDS market. It got rejected twice, even when the first publisher said it was the best Book of Mormon fiction they had read. Third time was the charm, I sent in the first three chapters, they requested a full a week later and I chose to break the book in half to UP my chances of an acceptance-which I received a month later with a phone call! Then I was also given a contract for the second half which became Book 2. Let me stress-this does not happen. It was a truly blessed miracle. I was dumbfounded that it happened so fast-I caught a supreme time slot. It had taken 5 months to get a rejection from the second publisher I had submitted to.

Backing up, because Heroes of the Fallen is a Book of Mormon historical, I really only checked out LDS publishers (you have to be realistic about these things) but I had the backup plan that if they all rejected it, I would rewrite the priesthood (both good and bad) as magic and send it to the national fantasy publishers-BUT I truly didn't want to do that-I wanted to write a Book of Mormon story my way and keep the names and themes the same. Lamanites are Lamanites and the bad guys are Gadiantons and Mormon is Mormon-I didn't want that vision to fade. So I am grateful that my vision was kept the same (and improved/focused by my editor Kristine).

Q--Tell us about your book.
I was asked to describe Heroes of the Fallen in one sentence for the giveaway at LDStorymakers a couple weeks ago. I wrote ~ Heroes of the Fallen is a Book of Mormon historical with pulp fiction sensibilities.

And that's admittedly still pretty vague, but I thought I only had one sentence to work with.

It is a Book of Mormon historical set during the last days of the Nephite empire. (Mormon's timeframe) It is presented more like epic fantasy-NOT as if its made up-but akin to a lot of the big fantasy epics I like to read. So there is a good sized cast of characters and a number of intertwining plot threads that will converge. It is the first in a series, though from Book 2 (Blood of Our Fathers-forthcoming) on, each will be a self-contained standalone novel journeying toward the end we all already know. I would hope you like the characters enough to be intrigued and follow them on their journey, heartbreaking and poignant as it is. My premise was the handful of good people who must have been near Mormon and Moroni-but then you can't leave out the sinister villains either. Sometimes I have the most fun writing them.

Q--Where did the idea for your book come from?
I wanted to read an adventurous Book of Mormon historical done my way. That meant years of research and tackling a number of things that I was surprised no one else had yet - like Zelph, the White Lamanite. Its also fun to have cameo's from the Three Nephites (called the Three Disciples during Nephite times) I love adding in all the fantastic Mormon folklore...and of course the action/battles etc.

Q--I think it would be safe to call you a sword lover and a man intrigued by civilizations from the past. What is it that draws you to these ancient part of the world?
I've always been drawn to history and looking back down the timeline we've always had swords. They feature quite prominently in scripture. A sword was used to cast Adam and Eve from the garden. Christ said to sell your coat and buy a sword and I've sold a lot of coats.

But seriously, its the thought of thoroughly knowing where we have been to help us understand the future that intrigues me so much about history. It does repeat itself-think of how much the Book of Mormon was written for our day. Realizing the historical parallels was a huge thing for me with the Heroes of the Fallen saga.

Q--Tell us what other works you’ve had published.
I have a Porter Rockwell versus the Bear Lake Monster story coming up in the Monsters & Mormons anthology. This one is gonna prove to be the most enticing, eclectic LDS collection ever, do yourself a favor and grab it on the Halloween release date.

I have a few other Porter Rockwell tales coming in non-LDS venues (that's a point of pride right there) but they aren't available yet-later this year. Garden of Legion, Rolling in the Deep, Let Sleeping Gods Lie, Black Wings in the Moonlight.

The Hand of Fate, a desert fantasy short story was published earlier this year in Shadows & Light 2. 

The Dig, a tale of an archeologist and a tomb robber will be available in the IN SITU antho in July. 

Other fantasy flavored tales coming very soon are my Zarahemlan thief, Saphir in The Serpents Root, coming very soon in the Discovery Challenge antho. (Some of you might remember Saphir from the LDS Publisher Book of Mormon short story contest last year-Saphir/She won, though this is a different adventure)

Fistful of Tengu, an oriental fantasy is the opening story in Monk Punk antho.

A viking named Tyr teams up with Wolfram von Eschenbach (Parzival) in the 4th Crusade to retrieve the Holy Grail=Whispers of the Goddess, in the Roar of the Crowd anthology.

And (sorry for rambling) a couple more online stories, Tyr once again with Sailing to Valhalla in the IRONBOUND online mag and then the eerie biblical Curse the Child, a tale of Solomon and Sheba in the Lovecraft eZine.

Q--Do you write with your children in mind? In other words, is there something that you hope your children will discover one day as they read your stories? 
I do. I dedicated Heroes of the Fallen to my sons and daughter. I also wrote Bless the Child (still polishing before I submit) with my oldest in mind ~ its about a Spartan mercenary serving Laban, then King Zedekiah, and finally being instrumental in getting Mulek out of Jerusalem (and therefore to the Promised Land) I based Mulek on my son when he was three.

I like to think of all my writing as a legacy that I hope my children will eventually appreciate. While I write a lyrical prose, its still transparent enough to know how I feel about anything in particular. I wear my passions on my sleeve.

Q--In a battle with Goliath which would be your weapon of choice: a sling or a sword?
I'd probably like to try out my favorite sword (The Grosse Messer) on the three and half cubit giant of Gath, but common sense also says take the sling and live up to your namesake.

Q--Which do you prefer...hugs or kisses–Hershey’s Hugs or Kisses, that is?
I'll have to go with Hershey's Kisses.

Q--If you were given the opportunity to meet one writer who is no longer alive, who would it be and why?
That's a tough one because most of my favorite writers are gone (and have been for some time). I'd love to sit down with Tolkien and lament the doom of the Noldor, then show him my Balrog. Or I could arm-wrestle with Hemingway in Paris. I dreamt I played pool with the deceased dark fantasy writer Karl Edward Wagner~he told me I couldn't take one of his great unused titles. And then there's the unanswered questions I have for the likes of Louis L'Amour and Mark Twain. But I'm gonna have to settle on pulp writer Robert E. Howard, his works have lit the torch to my imagination like no one else.

Q--Finish this sentence: “Every writer should...”
...get used to harsh criticism and rejection, deal with it, get better and keep writing.

Q--What’s the most shocking thing you’ve learned about the publishing industry?
How much "You" the author, have to promote yourself. It appears so unseemly but you have to get over it. I've had a number of opportunities to talk one on one with several New York Times bestsellers and they still tirelessly promote themselves all the time. There is no getting around it.

With the exception of the very biggest authors you can come up with, everyone has to promote and spread the word about their work. I honestly don't believe a debut author can sit back and get much of anywhere in the business. Even those (very few) Superstars who could sit back and do absolutely nothing-YOU can't, and they didn't get where they are just sitting in their offices and writing either, they promoted in the beginning at least by extensive networking, which anyone who wants to be published and have a career needs to do.

Q--Was there one story, one book that ignited your love for writing? If so, what was it?
I can't think of any one book starting the fire, there's just too many, but notables would be any classic myth-Greek and Norse, Beowulf,The Hobbit, and the scriptures. And I'm not saying the scriptures in a "I'm a good guy" kinda way, I'm talking about 'Boy Loving Battles' kinda way, because lets be honest, that's how you get young boys to pay attention to scripture.

Thanks, David! It's always fun learning more about you.

If you're interested in David's book you can find it here:


  1. Nice to meet you David. It was fun to learn more about your journey.

  2. Thanks Jessie IFeel dumb for forgetting this was getting posted on Saturday-my bad)

    Thank you Lisa for this opportunity.

  3. Great interview.

    I can't wait to read some of your Porter Rockwell tales. I was really surprised to learn he was born in Belchertown, MA. I know that area well, my sister lives in the neighboring town!

  4. I enjoyed that. Good to read more about the creation of the book and the other stories that David has out.

  5. Great interview! I am just in awe of all your short story publications. I'm excited for Monsters and Mormons. Should be great. My family has been reading Ether this week, and I think "Shule, the King" is just begging to be written as an epic fantasy. Hmmm..... Maybe.

  6. Thanks Paul, I've read a couple of Porter's biographies, a couple of times and yet I didn't remember that.

    Thank you Charles.

    Right on Angie-get to work.



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