Author Riley Westbrook has not only been following my blog, but also offers a wonderful, free review service to Indie authors, as a means of supporting others. This alone would be enough for me to want to find out more about him, but he has also written Breath of the Titans: The False Titanbringer, with Sara Lynn Westbrook, whom he describes as his “wife by all but paper. My wonderful woman who keeps me sane and happy.”
Obviously, it’s time to bring out the old questionnaire!
Riley: I was hurt, unable to do the job I loved, and found myself struggling through a depression. This honestly helped me through it. Taking and stretching my imagination, trying to put myself into a character the same way I used to when I would role play and lead games. It really helped to lift my soul, and as a man who used to HATE (I can’t stress that enough) writing, I now believe everyone should write something every day. Even if it’s only 100 words long, it’s good for your soul.
Sara: My involvement began as a “soundboard,” but the more Riley would share, the more my interest refused to be satiated, and now we bounce ideas back and forth. I want my man to achieve his dreams, so I jump in. After all, many hands make the heaviest of work light, and it’s fun.
I couldn’t agree more. What was the first thing you ever wrote?
Riley: Do school lessons count? If not, then honestly this. I just sat down one day, and started writing determined to put word after word. This is what spat forth from my brain.
Sara: My first for fun was poetry, began when I was a small child. I still write. Nothing published.
Well, except for Breath of the Titans, of course. What other writing have you done? Anything else published?
R: Yes actually, I have a wonderful group from BigWorldNetwork.com helping me with my latest book. A completlely different tone and voice to my next work, as it’s a zombie apocalypse that focuses around the journey of a heroin addict searching for his next fix, and a family watching their modern world fall apart around them. Very fun to write, even better to listen to the audio chapters they offer on their site.
That sure is different! Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?
Riley: I play video games, I write (If that sounds redundant) I spend time with family, I laugh, I cry, and I live. That’s the most important part about life.
Sara: Birdwatching, stargazing, walking, reading, poetry, writing (all things book-related), meditation, fishing, various art forms, not limited to wire sculptures, painting, modifying clothes, making simple jewelry, hair accessories, sewing, beading, embroidery by hand, personal studies, tending my trees, two cats and keeping myself and my man happy.
That’s quite the list there, Sara! I’m impressed. What are you two working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project.
Both: We don’t know if we should keep it kid-appropriate or not, so we’ll play it safe.
Our latest work is an urban fiction/comedy that features a very strong female protagonist that loves to use an adult toy as her weapon of choice (finishing editing before we submit anywhere right now.)
And now we’ve started a SciFi work, about a fifth of the way through the first draft already.
Lol – a dildo-wielding fighter. Yep, you’d fit right in Agent Bertram‘s universe. Who are your favorite authors and what do you love about them?
My two most favorite authors, one is fantasy, the other is a research scientist.
Robert Jordan and Dr. Robert Ballard. I grew up on Tolkien, counting the Silmarillion as a favorite book, but it is because of Jordan that I read for fun as much as I do. Until then, I mostly read to gain knowledge in topics of choice. These notable authors deserve to be mentioned as their works shaped my understanding on multiple fronts and because time and again I return to enjoy and be inspired by their art. William Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Alexandre Dumas, J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey. I also enjoy reading Brian Sanderson.
- Robert Heinlein-I love his style.
- Frank Herbert-His books are deep and have hidden meanings.
- Anne McCaffery-A wonderfully vivid imagination, she wrote the first dragon book I ever read.
- J.R.R. Tolkien-If you read Breath of the Titans, you’ll see it’s heavily influenced by his ground breaking ideas.
- Robert Jordan-I believe this man was a master wordsmith, (And I feel Brian Sanderson needs a mention here as well, as he finished the Wheel of Time beautifully.) Another strong influence in Breath Of The Titans. My wife introduced me to his writings.
- Stephen King-I can’t think of another author who has crossed as many genres as successfully as he has.
- J.K. Rowling-Inspiration to me as I write from a poor man’s perspective, that she rose from welfare to billionaire status. A wonderful woman.
- Raymond E. Feist-I love his style of writing.
- Robin Hobb– Assassin’s Quest helped me look at magic from a different light.
- Janny Wurts-She helped shape the way I look at women in Fiction with Daughter of the Empire series.
That’s quite the eclectic selection – wonderful! Sara, the Silmarillion is my favorite Tolkien work, and I consider it a damn shame that it’s not more appreciated. What genres do you read mostly and what are you reading now?
Sara: Generally I stick to fantasy, some sci if, history, science, art, and whatever my husband tosses in my direction.
Riley: I mostly read High Fantasy, SciFi, and Horror. I just finished a Baseball Story that wasn’t bad, though it’s not my typical Genre. I have yet to decide what to read next, though I have quite a list staring me in the face.
Are you Indie authors? If so, do you have any advice for other indie authors?
Riley: Yes, take your time, and don’t rush. Make sure you understand everything you’re preparing for. When you think you’re ready to publish, you’re not. You still have work to do marketing, getting a base, having people pay attention to you. Once you have that, then you release when EVERYTHING is professional looking. I wrote Breath Of The Titans to learn how to write and publish, and I learned a lot. If you are serious about writing, and want a book to be published, believe you have a story that must be told, write a different one first and come back to your original idea. Have a novel under your belt before you try to tackle your baby.
Sara: I just have this to add, Bruce Lee said it best, “Be water, my friend.” There’s more to it, good quote to look up and think on. Obstacles will happen, things will get in the way. It is your choice to have them dam you or to work at the obstacle, taking away bits by bits, taking action on it until it’s no longer a blockage, but a small bump in the flow.
Sar, that’s my philosophy, too (heavily influenced by the Tao Te Ching). Sorry Riley, I’m confused. Was Breath of the Titans the book you wanted to write, or was it a stepping stone towards that goal?
Riley: Honestly, Breath of the Titans was the story I wanted to tell, and I’m very happy with it, but if I had written something else before, I would have been prepared and knowing all the things I was behind the ball on at its release. Loved writing it, I just wish I had known what I know now before I wrote it. There’s a lot more to it than just putting one word after another, and editing. If that’s all your doing as an author, then you are setting your book up to struggle. START MARKETING IT BEFORE YOU EVEN WRITE A WORD if you want a best seller, or to be towards the top of amazon boards.
That’s very true. Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?
Riley: Reverso.com-Wife uses it to translate my writing from Rilenese into English. Other than that, not really.
Sara: I also frequent Miriam-webster dictionary, oxford dictionary, and various sites for urban slang.
Erm, Rilanese? Okay… Tell us about your blog. What will readers find there?
Riley: RileyAmosWestbrook.Wordpress.com covers a wide range of topics. Everything from short stories and poems to book reviews and author spotlights. I try to cover as much as I possibly can in as small of a space as I can.
I talk about writing, I talk about weight loss, I talk about life, and I talk about authors. I even have my wife posting a section about nail designs and her projects sometimes.
I suspect the book reviews will be of particular interest to my readers, so thanks for giving back to the community! What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?
Riley: Everything. I wake up every day thankful for the breath entering my lungs, and smiling at the sights that greet my eyes. After all, how you approach life is what makes it.
What a wonderful way to look at things! How would you like to be remembered?
Sara: As an honorable person, lucky in love, family, and friendship, living with good will for all.
Riley: A simple man who loved life and all of those around him. I believe everyone can thrive, with the right support and effort.
Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us about them. Who inspired their characters? Would you like to meet them? What would you tell them if you did?
Sara: I’ll focus on the minor cast. There’s three. Well, one and a pair.
Old Maid Sybell, the cat lady, she was inspired by pieces of myself, others and pop culture. Had I not found Riley, I would probably be a crazy cat lady somewhere.
The pair are a middle aged woman who calls herself Singala, real name Apple, and her closest friend, a druid who shuns his human form and embraces his bear form. His name is Crusherkun and is inspired by a friend who played World Of Warcraft.
Riley: For the male character, I’ll tell you about Lovonian and Nord’s mentor. Sanche was a lot of fun to write, as I really did base him off of a friend of mine. No matter how bad life gets for him, shit always seems to roll downhill away from him. I made Sanche suffer a little more than my friend does in life, but the essence is captured with what I wrote.
My second, I’ll speak about Lov’s Grandmother, Draka. She was a lot of fun to write, too. Being an omnipotent being that fights on cosmic scales, she also rules with an iron fist. Plus the thought of a predatory grandmother gave me chills when I was thinking of the story.
Riley, yes, a predatory grandmother does seem … wrong. If you had to describe a theme or thread running through your life, what would it be? What’s your life theme?
Riley: Bob Marley said it best. “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” Life is to be loved; even in the worst of times there is light.
I love that – in fact, it’s my Skype tagline! Next question: men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Where are you from?
Riley: I am from Atremes, a pleasure planet in the Cerulean Galaxy.
Sara: To answer that would give too much away.
Don’t worry, Sara, I’ll find out. Riley, a pleasure planet, huh? I have to visit next time I’m in the neighborhood. Is it true you’ve been abducted by aliens?
Riley: I have no idea what you are talking about, sir. *Giant satellite dish comes out of my butt and beams a message into space before re-inserting itself inside of me.*
Sara: looks over at Riley, laughs* it wasn’t me.
Ooh, South Park fans! Now, what is the weirdest thing that’s happened to you?
Riley: …My life is full of weird situations. Most of them I consider normal, after all I worked with insane people on a daily basis for years.
Sara: I am insane…..just properly medicated, only I was in his life first, then he decided to work with those labeled insane. Weirdness happens to me so often that I consider it a normality. Weird are the days where there isn’t any weirdness.
I know the feeling. Which one do you prefer: Elephants or tigers?
Riley: I have to choose? I want to keep them both! They’re both magnificent creatures. Sara looking over my shoulder says, “Tigers.” but if I’m forced to choose, I’ll take the elephants.
Both fine choices. If you had to live over again what would you change in your life?
Sara: One thing might change if foresight were permissible, my perception of self.
Riley: I would have limited how many games and for how long I played when I was younger. The addictive style of video games, and being an army brat that moved frequently, sucked me into their world and so I didn’t have many close friends growing up. I would still play games, just moderate myself.
Where in the universe would you live if you could travel anywhere?
Riley: On the edge of a black hole, just to know what’s on the inside.
Good one. Only, those are slippery buggers, so be sure to wear rubber soles. How about you, Sara?
Sara: A temperate planet bereft of civilization, in a night shrouded forest where many living things are illuminated by bioluminescence. Flowers, trees, moss, some critters, fluffy, feathered, scaled, or having an exoskeleton… dark, comforting and permeated with zips and small oft times brilliant colors flashing against the twilight blues and violet purples of the world’s sky as phosphorus green clouds scuttle by reflected in a lily strewn pond full of fish. And me, sitting quietly on a log, taking in the scene that I’d be sketching or composing poetry while fishing.
Lol – I can see why Riley chose you as a soundboard. Many thanks for visiting, guys, and for sharing!
Who are Sara and Riley?
Riley is an ex-CNA who found himself unable to do the job he loved. Injured, out of work, and stumbling through life, he happened to start writing down his thoughts. Once that happened, he fell in love and has been writing since.
Sara is Riley’s companion. She doesn’t understand the persistent need to write that her husband has, but she is a good wife who loves her husband. She supports him by making sure the drivel that leaves his mouth isn’t completely full of idiocy.
You can find them on: