Eastern’s Newest Author- Brook Ellen West

With the publication of her first novel, The Blood Keeper’s Prophecy, through Amazon.com just a couple of weeks ago, EKU alumna Brook Ellen West became Eastern’s newest author. The Blood Keeper’s Prophecy is the first in a trilogy of books that Brook plans to write, so we are certain to see more from her in the future. Brook shared her insights about starting a career in writing, information about her new book, and her advice for aspiring authors.

The cover art for The Blood Keeper's Prophecy was designed by Ann West, Brook's sister and fellow EKU alumna.

The cover art for The Blood Keeper’s Prophecy was designed by Ann West, Brook’s sister and fellow EKU alumna.

When and how did you decide to pursue a career as a writer?

An inherent need to write has been nagging me since I was eight years old. That’s when I penciled my first essay because I wanted to, not because a teacher or someone else was making me. I wrote a piece on dolphins, which was 97% plagiarized from the prehistoric Google nostalgically referred to as: the encyclopedia. My writing eventually transformed into a phase of tween poetry about stars, kisses, and best friends. In the eighth grade, I worked up the nerve to tell people I wanted to be a writer for a living. Those same people told me I should do something useful instead – those bastards – and for almost a decade, I let them convince me that writing was for suckers.

I turned to science – the “useful” career path – and earned my Chemistry B.A. from EKU, but there was no cream or ointment that could soothe the itch to write. A year before graduation, I had medical school breathing down my neck and finally decided to start listening to my intuition, or maybe soul-searching is a better phrase for it. I started writing again and it was like seeing a best friend from childhood after a long separation. I knew everything about writing and I knew nothing about writing. But writing had been there for me in the past and I gave it a fair chance. In a year I wrote poems, short stories, and five screenplays (screenwriting is one of my favorite formats). I received the message from my intuition loud and clear: I had to be a writer. Even if I live on the streets for the rest of my life, writing is what I’m supposed to do.


Will you describe what your experience with getting your career started has been like?

It’s like playing the game Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey on an obstacle course. I’m blindfolded and have the felt wool tail, my writings, in one hand; the other hand is groping the space in front of me trying to find the donkey, the individual who can make my writing “happen.” I think I’m close to getting my writing in the right hands but then – a mud pit. Then a ten-foot wall. Then monkey bars. Then a swinging rope. Then barbed wire. Then a fire breathing dragon. Then a mariachi band forcing me to drink tequila shots. Not a game for the feeble.

I was fresh off a chemistry degree and wanted to do a complete 180° turn. I knew I wouldn’t get a writing job by simply telling people, “Hi, I want to be a writer now, so hire me.” I needed writing samples. I needed to prove that I could do it. I needed to point at something and say, “See? I wrote that. That’s my name, those are my words. Make your opinion as you wish.” So I started my personal blog, Flapjacks and French Ladies. For the first year I had a goal of writing a post a week and I ended up with forty-three posts. It was close enough for me! Using writing samples from my blog alone, I earned an ongoing writing assignment as a contributor for an online women’s magazine and a post I wrote about marriage equality was acquired as an Op-Ed piece for Advocate.com (a popular LGBT magazine). My blog, which I had originally created on one of the public computers in the Crabbe library, became my writing platform that could be accessed from just about anywhere on the globe. And it’s how I got started.

 

What personal qualities do you think have helped you along the way?

Typing this out it sounds cheesy, but having the willingness to learn has helped me tremendously inside and outside the writing world. Being open to new ideas and new ways of thinking, considering them for myself (instead of absorbing someone else’s opinion), and actively seeking answers when a problem pops up are all under the learning umbrella.

Then there’s the biggie: perseverance. I’ve had to remind myself constantly – “No one is going to do it for you.” You can’t sit at the coffee shop all day and wait for a writing career (or any career) to fall in your lap. I’ve had more than my fair share of breakdowns and self-doubt, and that’s when perseverance really shows itself.

 

How did your idea for The Blood Keeper’s Prophecy develop?

The idea for TBKP started developing when I would hide behind the couch on Friday nights while my parents watched The X-Files, my folks never knowing I had left my bed. Storytelling in a paranormal setting has always fascinated me, and I’m convinced it’s because these were the first types of stories I was exposed to. Two of my favorites were The Little Mermaid and The Wizard of Oz. Flying monkeys, horses that change colors, witches that travel by bubble, mermaids that grow legs, and come on, an octopus steals another person’s voice. I was being primed to tell TBKP a lot longer than what I could consciously understand. The idea for TBKP came to me while I was working on another story – no explanation for it really, it just jumped into my brain. Then I started obsessing over it and it didn’t take long for me to decide to fully commit to the project.

 

Who (or what) do you turn to for inspiration in your work?

Inspiration, for me, is endless in the form of books, movies, conversations, seasons, looks, smells, tastes, sounds, textures, landscapes, jokes, music, patterns, history, mythology, religion, paintings, advertisements, colors, shapes, movements.

 

Do you have any advice for others who are interested in pursuing writing professionally?

Write write write write write write write! I don’t feel I’ve earned the right to give any more advice than that, so I’ll share the quote that’s been my mantra:

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything good.” – William Faulkner

 

Where can we get your book?

The Blood Keeper’s Prophecy is available for Kindle. If you are interested in reading the book but don’t own a Kindle, the free Kindle reader app can be downloaded to your iPhone/iPad, Android device, or personal computer. (Here’s the link to download Kindle to your PC: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000426311)

Here is the Amazon listing for TBKP: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BY08ST0. From this page, you can read a sample, purchase the book, gift the book to a friend, and leave a review.

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Categories: Alumni Spotlight

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