20Q with Wes Albers
20 QUESTIONS with WES ALBERS
Twenty things you (probably) didn’t know about Black & White author and director of the Southern California Writers’ Conference, Wes Albers.
1. My first job was…mowing lawns. When I was ten my dad bought a “Lawn Boy” lawn mower and it became my job to mow our lawn. He told me I was able to use it to earn money mowing other people’s lawns if I wished. I’ve been working ever since.
2. If I wasn’t a writer, I would likely be…a cop. I’m lucky. Most people search and struggle to find a job, or a career, they enjoy. I’ve been fortunate. I have liked pretty much every job I’ve ever had and I’ve been able to do two totally different types of careers. The Southern California Writers’ Conference is a bonus job. It gives me an opportunity to give something back, something to honor those who have worked to help me.
3. I collect…memories. Yeah, I know, it sounds hokey and more than a little silly to say it out loud but really it’s all anyone really gets to collect. Everything else is transitory. I also like swords. If I were a wealthy guy with a giant mansion I would have an armory with and old sword an armor collection. I’d say it’s the fantasy writer in me that finds inspiration in the historic. I went to Toledo, Spain a few years ago and spent an entire day wandering shops in a town that has been making arms and armor for a thousand years or more. It was fascinating.
4. My favorite word is…well, that seems to depend on my mood. When I’m writing, probably “that” or “it”, depending on which one I’m trying to pay attention to not using. It’s not that I really like either one but every writer has a word they can’t seem to escape and that acts as a default when they don’t want to put in the effort to be more creative.
5. I’m a big fan of…compelling storytelling. I don’t really care so much about genre as I do a quality book or movie, something that strikes the right mood.
6. The single best piece of (writing related) advice I have ever gotten…”show, don’t tell.”
7. I have always wanted to…see the world from a yacht. Pretty much ever since I was a kid and watched the old monster movies like King Kong, I always wanted to be the adventurer who sailed the globe in search of grand action. Kind of a modern day Sinbad, or at least an Aristotle Onassis who just parked his yacht where he wanted and took his helicopter where he needed to go. I could probably write more than a couple books in the down time.
8. The best thing I have ever read, (but did not write) is…Robin Hood, written in Old English. I took it on as a book report thinking it was going to be something along the lines of an Errol Flynn movie. If it hadn’t been in Old English my teacher probably wouldn’t have let me read it. He was not a fan and I don’t think he saw Robin Hood as literature. The story both surprised and challenged my expectations but the character resonated with me.
9. People often tell me that I…work too much, take too much on. Guilty but at least I dream of the day when I become lazy.
10. I really think that my best work (published or not) is…I did a short story called Jimmy that is probably not my best writing but people connect with the story. It’s a little true life Christmas miracle kind of story. I’m pretty proud of Black & White as well. I hadn’t set out to write police stories but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, more so that cops have reacted so positively to it as a true accounting of what they see, feel, and do.
11. I find inspiration in…water. I spent my summers in the lakes and rivers of Minnesota, or in the pool at my house. It doesn’t really matter whether it is a small, serene pond in the woods, or raging waves along a rocky coastline. I find inspiration in all of it.
12. The best thing about being a professional writer is…creating and controlling your own stories. You get to determine your fate, or at least that of your characters, when you write. I also find it very gratifying to see someone when they are genuinely moved by something I’ve put to words.
13. I spend way too much time…working.
14. The coolest person in my cell phone is…my dad. He’s always there when I need him and his wisdom always gets me where I need to go.
15. It really bothers me when…people prey on others.
16. The worst thing about being a professional writer is…that I have all these scenes, ideas, peoples, stories, and places in my minds and I don’t have the time or resources to make them all come alive. It’s that I have to pace myself and balance writing against other priorities.
17. One mistake that most aspiring writers make is…to think it’s about the idea rather than the execution of the story. There are no new stories, just new ways to tell a story. You can have the coolest idea in the world but if your delivery is not fresh and well executed then it really doesn’t matter. Jurassic Park wasn’t popular just because of the idea, after all, the idea was really just another monster story. It was the execution of the story that made it compelling. Just like I default to “that” and “it” when I want to be lazy, new writers often make the mistake of defaulting to idea versus story execution.
18. If I knew the apocalypse were coming in 24 hours, I’d…move to high ground for a better view and then I wouldn’t go down without a fight. It would wipe me out or I’d find a way to survive. In either event I could take comfort that I’d lived well.
19. The three websites I visit most often are…the Southern California Writers’ Conference site, and then probably Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s sites, or maybe something for daily news. I don’t really get a lot of time to be on the web.
20. You’d be surprised to know that I…am a total introvert. I might be capable of speaking in front of large crowds, I might be inclined to chase after bad guys in dark alleys at night but I’m still happiest in my cave.