08 April 2010

Author Answers with CJ West

Say hello to CJ West this week. His latest book, Gretchen Greene, released at the end of March and he's got a terrific summer tour lined up with it. It's a little non-traditional and he's giving us the scoop on what he's got planned, what's got his attention in the book world and when we can see his books on the big screen. (The photo is CJ and yours truly, Word Nerd, at Bouchercon in Oct. 09.)

WN: What's the "Who Wants to Be a Hero" tour all about? How did you think of it?
WEST: The tour promises to teach readers how to be like Randy Black. Randy is an expert driver, marksman, and poker player. He comes from a family of winemakers and his girlfriend works as a crime reporter for a local paper. I thought that all of these things are interesting in fiction, why not do them in person, so when I began planning my tour this year, I decided to focus on these skills and make the tour fun. My work is written to entertain people and I wanted my events to do the same. By partnering with local vendors, I'm offering some one-of-a-kind events. The kickoff is a high performance driving class by a well-respected driving and security firm that teaches professional drivers. They are going to give us a three-hour course and allow us to get out on the track and drive. It's going to be great and it gives readers a chance to "hang around" with me for hours as opposed to shaking my hand and asking a few questions in a book store.

WN: What's the response been so far to this kind of tour instead of the traditional sit-behind-a-table-and-sign-books approach?
WEST: The response has been tremendous. I know all authors have had book signings where very few people show up. It's a hazard of the job and a sign that there are more fun things for people to do with their time. Readers are signing up for my Texas Hold 'em lessons two and three months in advance to make sure they get a seat. I never expected that. I will be all over New England this year. Anyone who wants to come and see me can find an event at www.22wb.com/events.htm

WN: Your newest book, "Gretchen Greene" recently released -- what's it about?
WEST: Gretchen Greene is the 3rd book in my Randy Black series and it offers a major transition in the storyline. The first two books, Sin & Vengeance and A Demon Awaits, define Randy as a troubled anti-hero. Gretchen Greene is Randy's first adventure as he travels the country trying to redeem himself by saving others. Gretchen is an ecoterrorist turned alternative energy researcher who has stolen a breakthrough solar technology. Her entire team is gunned down and only Randy can save her. The fun part about writing this book for me is the relationship between Randy and Gretchen. She's a bit prickly and goes about preaching environmentalism to anyone within earshot. She and Randy disagree on so many things that it made their relationship fun to write.

WN: You've got a four books out now, what's changed in how you approach writing in that time? WEST: My beta readers tell me that my writing improves with every book. It's also clear that I'm writing significantly faster. My second book took about sixteen months to complete. My most recent was completed in less than six months. I do think that particular book was something of an anomaly because the ideas came so fast, but I see myself finishing a book each year going forward where this was really difficult for me prior to 2008.

WN: In addition to writing and touring, what books have captured your attention lately?
WEST: I had the pleasure of meeting Meg Gardiner last year and interviewed her on my Blog Talk Radio show (22wb.com/btrshows.htm). Her book The Dirty Secrets Club really impressed me both in terms of writing and story. Meg is also a very nice woman and it has been a delight getting to know her.

WN: What's happening with the movie?
WEST: Beantown Productions has optioned the film rights to Sin & Vengeance and they are working to finance the production of a feature film. I hope to have more information soon about the fundraising and a production schedule.

WN: Where can readers find you?
WEST: I spend most days on Facebook while I write. Find me at www.facebook.com/cjwestfans.


Rachel Brady said...

Great interview, guys! CJ's hands-on tour idea has me wondering if I can get Final Approach readers to jump out of airplanes. I'm guessing not.

Would like to have a turn at the poker table, though. Good luck with your tour. :)

Bethany, any chance we'll see you at Bouchercon 2010?

Bethany K. Warner said...

Probably not for B-con 2010. I'm looking at World Fantasy in Columbus OH, which is closer and cheaper and in my genre!

But, I'm definitely thinking B-Con 2011 in St. Louis!

Christine said...

Love the non-traditional ideas for CJ's tour! Not only does it add something for the fans, but I would think it would be a welcome change for the authors.

You mentioned Bouchercon. I'm psyched about attending my first one this year - and in San Francisco, no less!

Great interview!

CJ West said...


I'll be there. I hope you'll say hi.

You are right on about the tour. The first big event is this Saturday and I just had my car tuned up so it can handle the track. The events will be much more fun than sitting behind a table!


CJ West said...

Thanks Rachel. I like the idea of jumping out of planes. It's the landing that makes me nervous.

Sorry you won't be there this year Bethany. Thanks for having me on your blog!


Christine said...

Saw some of the video from this weekend's Who Wants to be a Hero? Tour on Facebook. It looked like you all had a blast.

See you at Bouchercon! (I assume no plans to have ADSI give demos on the streets of San Francisco - talk about a wild ride, eh?)