Interview with Arleigh Bison Westunlied

Posted on August 19, 2013


Tonight I have the pleasure of bringing you an interview with Arleigh Bison Westunlied! Enjoy! 🙂

Do you write under any other names? I do not.
What are you currently working on? At the moment, I am working on the first book of my steampunk series, and I hope to have it out soon. I also have a modern day drama which follows the life of a mental patient. Lastly, I have a comedy of my own and am co-writing a comedy-fantasy with my wife.
How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles? My first book, Point of the Rear Guard was recently published for eReaders and will be out in paperback soon. It is the biography of a military man set mostly amidst the Korean war.
What inspired you to write your first book? I don’t like my day job. Ha ha, seriously, I consider the book I am working on now to be my first, as I started it long before I was commissioned to do the biography. The biography took precedent as we wanted a 4 July release date. As to what inspired me, when I was on my last boat I had an inkling of an idea, but it actually came together into full thoughts and storylines a few years later after I had several not so positive life experiences. All of those things together culminated into a plot.
Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer? I prefer using flashbacks because it lets me explore the mental and emotional states of the characters experience the events. I also tend to write in third person because it allows me to write everything, rather than having to stick to only what one of the characters would know. I preferentially invert stereotypes because of the very real fact that my life has been influenced negatively as a consequence of people projecting onto me stereotypes they perceive, however inaccurate or inapplicable those perceptions may be.
How did you come up with the title of your book(s)? The biography already had a title, my steampunk book titles actually came in dreams while I was also dreaming of plot ideas.
Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp? Yes. One of the main points is that society, no matter where it is, is formed on the basis of lies. People lie to each other as well as to themselves and if they didn’t, society of whatever type would look far different. Specifically, religions, government structures, sexuality…all of these things would be described differently in a society where everyone was honest. In a way, I’m trying to create an environment that I would actually prefer to live in.
How much of the book is realistic/true? The biography was entirely factual. My series books I’ve taken a motif in which every character is based on someone I’ve met in real life. Certain events also derive from personal experiences.
Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Yes, as mentioned above, much of my writing comes from things I’ve experienced or people I have met.
What books have most influenced your life? Tolkien’s Universe, like many people I think. His books were the first that really made me want to write. Frank Herbert’s Dune would also be on that list. I want to write books that are reflections of the real world which I found in Country of My Skull by Antjie Krog, as well as Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. Disgrace dealt with real world experiences even if written through fiction.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”? Phillip K. Dick, because he was absolutely nuts. Also, Hunter S. Thompson who was a modern-day living breathing pirate and I respect that.
What book are you reading now? I’ve been reading my Writer’s Digest magazine and have a whole shelf of books I need to get to, but I’m concentrating at the moment on getting my series done.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. My cats lol, and editing staff.
Do you see writing as a career or a hobby? I would like for it to be my career. My ambition is to do this as a profession.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? No. Being a biography, I wouldn’t want to change it because I wanted to stay true to the person about which it was written.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I remember driving with my father across a very particular railroad track, I was asking him about the practicality of writing a fanfic based on Tolkien’s Universe after the events of Return of the King. I think I was about 11. We spent the rest of the day talking about it, as if it were a legitimate thing I wanted to do. He never made me feel silly for wanting this because I was a child. Between then and now, many life experiences happened, some good but many not and I never did write that fanfic. I’m fixing that now by writing my own universe.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?  Well, it is a series of fantasy steampunk novels, revolving around an ex-military man, his crew and their adventures in the universe. There is war, intrigue, love, death, destruction and much more.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Finding the time to do it! I feel very much like Kafka. He worked in an insurance office and literally referred to it (in English) as his “bread job” and expressed incredible regret for the requirement to devote so much of his attention every day away from writing, which is what he actually wanted to do. I agree with him entirely.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? I would like to say Shakepeare and Pushkin. They are great poets and have a talent I don’t. I am not good at poetry, so they impress me greatly.
Who designed the covers of you books? The biography cover was designed by Into the Black Media, our (myself and my wife) side project.
What was the hardest part of writing any of your works? Regarding my steampunk series, it is very easy for me to get lost in details, so the observations I’m trying to make about society with these books are very complex. It would be very easy for me to confuse readers with too many details, so I am trying to be more concise. I tend to get very wordy! In my first publication, the biography, the most difficult was fact checking for authenticity.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Don’t break your wrist! (It makes it really hard to type!) Most people will determine the worth of a piece of work based entirely on its profitability and this is wrong. There should be no monetary price associated with art. So by all means, make money as you can to maintain your life as a professional author, but never listen to any advice that critiques a person by saying that a particular exhibit is not as good as another based on how much money it made.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Please buy my books! (and thank you for buying my books!) That said, I do hope that people will pick up and enjoy what I’m writing. I’m very excited to start putting my series out as soon as I can and Go Maple Leafs!
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to life? Research is a ton of it. I can’t go to movies very often because of having been an engineer so I don’t get as much fun out of them as most people do (I always see how things just can’t work based on physics and it tends to ruin the movie for me). The steampunk series takes place on another planet and the first week of preparing to write the first of the series I spent researching math and cartography so that I could determine the planet’s orbital characteristics in the star system which it occupies, its local gravitational constant, chemical interactions for alternative oxygen-bearing molecules, the scale height of the atmosphere and that sort of thing. I want my stories to be as accurate as possible, even though this is a fantasy series. It does have some aspects of magic and non-real world concepts, but there are realistic ways to portray those ideas and that is what I am going for.
What character from your writing is your favorite and why? Riff from my steampunk books. He is based on my best friend.
I hope you all enjoyed this amazing interview! To stay connected with Arleigh find him on facebook and twitter, and to purchase his works: