Interview with William West, Author of Kissproof World
12 Oct 2022
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Kissproof World?
I have always been interested in human behavior and how behavior reflects a person’s early years when the brain is hard-wired by parents or other caregivers, and sometimes by tragic events. Just after graduating from college, I worked as a child protective social worker in an area of the Texas Gulf Coast near Houston. I was drawn to the setting and the experiences of the clients I served. I have always wanted to capture my observations and experiences in a novel.
The story came together for me when I read the poem When Like a Running Grave by Dylan Thomas. Kissproof is or was the name of a lipstick, and The Kissproof world is the last line of the poem which encapsulates the image of adolescent frustration and angst, but also one of gaiety. What I envisioned was a world where troubled teenagers use defense mechanisms to protect themselves from the harshness of their world.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Kissproof World, what would they be?
Teenage Dream by Katie Perry.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
Literary fiction is my favorite genre to read and write. Character development is what drives the plot.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
I enjoy reading and re-reading my favorite authors: James Joyce, William Faulkner, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Vonnegut, Mary Oliver, Louise Glück, and other similar authors. When in the right mood, I go to my bookmark in Finnegan’s Wake, along side my “Skeleton Key” for unlocking the meaning.
Occasionally I check out current authors who interest me, such as George Saunders, Colson Whitehead, Jesmyn Ward, and Louise Erdrich. The list goes on.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
One setting in the book is a drawbridge in the fishing village of Kemah. The drawbridge, is a symbol for the personal fears the characters face. Alec Gogarty is obsessed with jumping the drawbridge on his motorcycle to conquer his fears and make a name for himself. I enjoyed writing the scene when Alec Gogarty is being chased by the police and tricks them to open the drawbridge just as he attempts a jump over the bridge.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I wouldn’t say it is quirky, but writing in the early morning with a cup of coffee and a nice view out the window is the best for stimulating creativity.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
A favorite of mine is, “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent van Gogh. I add thought to action and say, “With so much beauty in the world, why do so many people choose hate as the easiest emotion to feel?”
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
At-risk youth are as unique as any youth growing up in this country, maybe even more so, because they come from an environment and background which creates a negative stain on the character and motivation of each person. Changing that in order to create an adult who is a positive contributor to society, and to his or her own well being, is difficult because there is no one method for helping all at-risk youth.
The system fails when children in need are pigeon-holed because it’s easier and cheaper instead of spending the time needed to understand the hurt a child is feeling, showing real concern, and finding avenues for the child to achieve success and feel good about the life they are creating.
William West is the author of the new book Kissproof World
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