Fiction Fest: 10 questions with Steve Westover, author of ‘Return of the Mystic Gray’

Return of the Mystic Gray 2x3“Return of the Mystic Gray” author Steve Westover is today’s Fiction Fest Q&A guest. The book is the second in the Crater Lake series and was released on April 9, 2013.

Westover is also the author of 2010’s “Defensive Tactics,” 2012’s “Crater Lake: The Battle for Wizard Island,” and 2012’s “Defensive Tactics” sequel, “Gold Clash.”

Return of the Mystic Gray” is available in book stores and on, and

That said, how about we get down to what Westover had to say in response to our questions?

What drives you to write?

Right now it’s really tough because I’m unable to spend the time I want and I really miss the writing. I write because I enjoy it. I love the surprise and discovery. It’s fun to see what the characters are going to do to escape from the dire circumstances I place them in.

What about you would surprise us?

Every year I pick a new project so I can learn something new and then add to it the next year. I’ve raised bees, cows, horses, chickens, planted gardens, coach a youth sports team and a few years ago I got the crazy idea that I’d try to write a book. I found out I’m allergic to bees so I don’t do that anymore, but the writing has stuck.

With your proven ability to write well, do all of the family writing assignments fall on your lap? (Christmas newsletters, kids’ absence excuse notes, etc.)

Ha! Thankfully, no. My kids are getting pretty good at writing their own absence excuse notes. I should probably be worried.

What, if any, role does music play in your writing routine?

I rarely listen to music while I write. It distracts me. The only exception I can think of was when I was writing an extended chase scene as I was listening to the “Last of the Mohicans” theme song. It kept the adrenaline pumping.

If you could be the best player on the worst team or the worst player on the best team, which would you choose?

I’d much rather be the best player on the worst team. 1) I would hate to ride the bench. If I’m going to play, I want to play. 2) I want to bring the team up, not drag it down.

What experience from your youth keeps changing every time you tell your kids about it?

I’m afraid to say. I was a perfect child, of course. I was an excellent student…always, a master musician and talented athlete. That’s the story they hear. I’m pretty consistent with telling it but the older they get the less they seem to believe. I can’t figure out why.

What motivated the Crater Lake series?

I grew up in Oregon, and though I’ve never camped at Crater Lake, I’ve camped as a scout many times in the Oregon mountains. It’s beautiful and exciting and I wanted to write about that. When I started researching a location for a fantasy novel I thought of Crater Lake. The existing legends work perfectly as a platform for a great story and the setting is amazing. Where else can you find a place with Wizard Island, The Devil’s Backbone, caves, volcanoes and the deepest lake in the United States? It’s a perfect setting.

Who would perform the “Return of the Mystic Gray: The Movie” theme song?

It would have to be an eerie, John Williams symphony for sure.

For which TV show would your style of writing be best suited?

My writing is pretty action packed because I write the scenes to match the frenetic pace of the shows and movies I like to watch. With my Crater Lake books, I’d say it would be a little bit like “Fringe,” for kids. It can be a little spooky, but still fun.

What advice would you offer to aspiring novelists?

It’s the same advice I give myself right now. Find time to write and utilize test readers to help you find gaps in the story, character development and pacing. Find trusted readers and don’t be offended when they give you honest critique, even if it’s hard to take. We all need revisions and edits. If your test reader says everything is perfect you need to find a new test reader. If we think we’re too good for critiques and edits, we’re not likely to succeed.