My Interview on Smashwords: Who Is KD West Anyway?

My Interview on Smashwords: Who Is KD West Anyway?

Smashwords has this very cute author interview app; it asks a series of randomized questions — mostly related to your writing — and manages to feel as if you’re actually being interviewed.

I just completed mine, and I thought I’d share my responses here:

Interview with K.D. West

When did you first start writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember — I was writing stories with crayons in kindergarten.

I wrote my first sexually explicit story… before I had any practical experience with what I was writing about. I’m pretty sure I don’t have any copies of that story, thankfully.

What are you working on next?
I’ve got a number of stories that I’m working on — ranging from the next Visitor story (which is going to be very, um, climactic), and the last story in the Juliet Takes Flight series — but the one that I think I’m looking forward to finishing the most is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew in which explores a Kate who, in addition to having the biggest attitude in Padua, is (without knowing this about herself) an absolute submissive. Yeah. I don’t know where that came from either.
Who are your favorite authors?

Well, I have lots — Shakespeare and Chekhov and Joyce and Garcia Marquez and…

But when it comes to erotica, my favorites are Selena Kitt and Tess Mackenzie. Because they write well. And it happens to be about people who happen to be having or thinking about having sex.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The thought that one of my characters might actually be able to tell me what the hell I’m doing.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I teach. I read. I write. Rinse. Repeat.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Different ways. Obviously, I look at authors I’ve enjoyed, but I’ll also look at my friends’ Goodreads reviews, and then sometimes a particular spirit will move me — an epic fantasy centered around a threesome, say, or a historical mystery with a nun detective — and I’ll go trawling through Smashwords just to see what comes up. What I find often surprises me.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Heh. Yes. No, I’m not telling.
What is your writing process?

Most of the work gets done in my unconscious. An idea will strike me out of the blue — an image, an idea for a plot, a snatch of dialog, a character — and then I’ll let my imagination worry at it for a while. I’ll find that I’m thinking about the story as I go to sleep, or as I’m doing some mindless activity. When I sit down actually to write, one of two things happens: either the pump is primed, and the words pour out, or it hasn’t, and I sit there tapping at the keys for a while before giving up — or finding my way to where my mind wanted to send me.

Once I’ve got a draft down, I try to let it sit for a while — but I’m not usually that patient. I’ll send it to my publisher and some of my betas for feedback, and then rewrite. Rewrite some more. Occasionally dump the whole thing and start over. (It’s nice to be able to share that sort of stuff on your blog occasionally.)

When I can’t stand to look at it any more, I send it off to my publisher and wait for it to pop up here.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

Hmm. Not sure. But I remember reading a Ray Bradbury story when I was maybe ten about a girl in a classroom on Venus who kept bragging about how, on Earth where she grew up, you could see the sun every day. So on the one day where they were going to be able to see the sun, her classmates locked her in the closet.

The thing about that story was that I could absolutely see it from both sides – her pride and the other kids’ frustration; the ability to write from both perspectives that way has inspired me a lot as a writer. As it did when I was an actor, now that I think about it.

How do you approach cover design?

I let my publisher deal with it.

Mostly, we talk about trying to have the image on the cover be striking, but not too literal. So a lot of the covers have been quite painterly and impressionistic.

What are your five favorite books, and why?

In no particular order:

  • The Lord of the Rings — which isn’t one book, I know, but still: it’s got EVERYTHING. Well, okay, most of the romance is literally in the endnotes, so it’s easy to lose track of, but it’s the perfect storm.
  • Ulysses — same thing. Joyce does absolutely EVERYTHING in that book — and there’s romance and sex and death, and birth, and cold interstellar spaces….
  • The Chronicle of a Death Foretold — This is the opposite: it’s a little diamond of a book that Garcia Marquez wrote like the journalist that he was. He tells you what happened in the first three pages, and then spends the rest of the book trying to work out WHY. Incredible.

And because I’m a theater teacher, a couple of plays:

  • Twelfth Night — This is Shakespeare’s real masterpiece, I think: it’s got just about every emotion known to man, the language is gorgeous, the funny stuff is REALLY funny, and the gender-bending thing makes all of it surreal and theatrical. There’s all of this sexual tension — some of it highly transgressional — that oozes out of verse.
  • Betrayal — Like Chronicle of a Death Foretold, this Pinter masterpiece tells the story backward, looking at how an infidelity affects three people: a woman, her husband, and her husband’s best friend with whom she’s had a long, complicated affair. By the time you get to the end of the play — which is the beginning of the affair — and they’re giddy and hormonal and just thinking about what it might be like if…. you want to scream at them, “NO! DON’T DO IT!”
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I’ve got both a Kindle Paperwhite and an iPad — I love the iPad because I can do just about everything on it, but the Paperwhite is a pleasure to READ on, because it’s harder to get distracted by email or looking something up on the internet or playing solitaire or… And also because the screen is easier on my eyes. Not great for images, though!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

Writing more books. 🙂

Honestly, having multiple titles in a variety of subgenres really helps people find your work.

And then, of course, you have to make sure your writing is as strong as possible. That’s important too!

Describe your desk
Glaciers of paper, some cables, a pair of headphones, and, buried under there somewhere, copies of some books that I’ve been reading.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I’m a West Coast kid — I grew up in a very liberal family in a very liberal area. And so my views on sex and sexuality, for example, are pretty come-as-you-are. In the stories that I’ve written, I explored stories about straight men and women, gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals up and down the spectrum. It’s not a political thing for me; I believe pretty deeply that we are all innately pansexual, but that some of us find ourselves more attracted to particular kinds of people than others. Whether those people have chromosomes that match ours or don’t, or whether the person is more important than the equipment, I find that that attraction makes for compelling stories.
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