Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome the author of The Infernal Games (Book One of the Baku Trilogy), Reed Logan Westgate, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.
About The Author
Reed Logan Westgate was born in Sanford, Maine and attended college in Dover, New Hampshire where he studied Accounting and Finance. He currently works for a non-profit social service agency in the finance department. He married his dream girl whom he met in grade school. They have a loving family with two beautiful daughters. In his spare time, he enjoys tabletop gaming, roleplaying games, and fishing. Learn more at .
You can connect with author Reed Logan Westgate here:
Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.
I was born and raised in Sanford, Maine, where I still reside today. Growing up was tough for me. I was bullied and teased relentlessly because of my weight. High school was a daily exercise in torment for me because I had very few friends and there was a plethora of mean-spirited kids. I had always wanted to be a writer and had planned on going to college for creative writing on graduation. Life didn’t really go as planned. Instead, I got my degree in accounting, settled down, and did what was expected of me. I worked decent jobs, bought a house, had two beautiful children. From all traditional measures I should have been happy. I wasn’t.
Then one day, while giving my oldest daughter a lecture about having the courage to chase her dreams instead of chasing a paycheck, she hit me with the “What about you?” It was a gut punch. Twenty years had passed since I graduated, and I had never truly given any effort to realizing my dream. In a large part, it was self-doubt. If I never tried, then I could never fail. The dream would always exist out there in the nebulous place we call “someday”. That moment was my someday, and I spent the next year working on The Infernal Games. Writing again, with purpose, was like finding that piece of me that was left behind as a child. The wonder and awe, the ability to build a world and share it—I had forgotten how much I truly enjoyed being a storyteller.
Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?
The Infernal Games is set in our world, where magic has been kept from the world at large by the Grand Enchantment: a powerful spell attributed to the Druids that creates the Mist, a dense fog that clouds the mind and conceals magic. The characters and setting imagine a world where all magic, all the gods, all the religions are real. They have just been concealed. This creates an underground society steeped in magic, from the Brother’s Three who sell information and black-market spell components in the farmer’s market to the nightclub operated by the Fae. Magic lurks everywhere in the world around us, just waiting to be discovered.
The central protagonist, Xlina, is the descendant of the Baku legend. A mythical creature from Japanese lore which consumes dreams. She is cursed to experience nightmares every night, but due to her father being a Druid her body can store nightmare energy giving her powerful magic. She struggles with isolation because of her gifts. In her darkest hour, when she is most vulnerable, a demon chooses her to be used as a weapon against a rival demon. This puts Xlina on a whirlwind collision course with all things supernatural, as she struggles to survive long enough to save her soul.
What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?
The central theme of the series is the power of choice. With free will comes the power for each of us to choose, but for there to truly be free will, people must be allowed to make their own choices. Even if that means they make bad choices. Thus enters Oxivius, the lamia necromancer. He is a practitioner of the dark arts, a cannibal, literally everything Xlina was taught is evil in the world. He soon turns her preconceptions of good and evil on their head. Oxivius shows Xlina that despite her being marked by a demon and being condemned, the power to choose is still hers. That intent is everything. Xlina could choose to ignore her dreams and pursue a normal life. Oxivius must choose whether he is the monster everyone thinks he is or the man he knows himself to be. Even Amber comes to see that her life’s direction directly results from choosing between the role she has been expected to play and who she really is.
Who is your favourite character in this book and why?
This is a tough question because I feel like a proud father. I love all the characters. Each of them grows and changes. Each of them, with the help of the others, realizes their full potential. At the end of the day, Amber Sedgewick is one of my favorite characters. She originally started as an embodiment of the mean girl trope to act as a foil for Xlina on the human side of her life. I wanted to give Xlina conflicts that were more than magic and monsters. The one thing I had a load of experience in was having a school bully, after all. The original intent was for Amber to die pretty early on in the book, a tragic result of the magical world spilling into the mundane and something that would continually haunt Xlina. Emma, my oldest daughter, simply wouldn’t have it. She fell in love with the character and the dynamic between her and Xlina. Thus, Amber went from being a trope to one of the central characters of the series.
Amber’s evolution over the series is fun because she is suddenly thrust into the world of magic. When the illusion of her world shatters, she realizes that she is merely living the life she is expected to live, that much of what she has done and who she is as a person is a result of expectations placed on her by her father. She evolves from the mean girl trope to a complex character, with her own flaws and motivations.
What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?
In youth, I had always envisioned myself writing fantasy. Sword- and sorcery-type swashbuckling adventures were my favorite reads. When I sat down to write The Infernal Games, I knew I needed to try something different. I had been watching Supernatural and had really loved the magic and monsters in the modern setting. I set out to read as many urban fantasy books as possible in a short time. I found a staggering breadth of styles and genres.
The only things I was certain of was that I wanted to stay away from vampires as the market felt heavily saturated. Instead, I went searching for more obscure lore and legend. That lead me to the Baku. I fell in love with the concept of a character with those abilities and Xlina began to take form.
How long did it take you to write this particular book?
It took just under a year to write The Infernal Games. I spent a lot of time in editing purgatory. Revision after revision, trying to make it perfect. I spent a lot of time kicking things back and forth with the editor until finally I felt it was ready to be shared with the world.
What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
Writing has been a journey of rediscovery for me. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is what makes me happy. If I could write for a living, then I would never have a day of “work” again in my life. The accountant in me, however, screams practical thoughts and goals.
My plan is to retire from the day-to-day work to be a full-time author by the age of 50 (a statement I have made to my employer as well). That gives me nine more years to build a following. My goal is to publish two books a year continuing with the world I have created. I am not looking to win any awards or be some literary giant, rather I would like to entertain as many people as possible.
Are you working on any other stories presently?
I am currently working on the Soulstealer Trilogy, which will go back and explore Oxivius’s origin story. The first book, Soulstealer Origins, is scheduled for release on November 1, 2022. It seems like a short window since I just released the final book in the Baku Trilogy on June 1, but I have been working on this backstory for two years. Oxivius has had his origin story fully fleshed out since I started generating the characters for The Infernal Games.
After I finish the Soulstealer trilogy, I plan on returning to the future and doing a subsequent trilogy which will pick up right after the end of the Baku Trilogy. Xlina and Amber have changed the world and I am eager to explore what that means.
Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?
There is a certain draw of modern day fused with lore and legend. I love being able to pull apart monsters and magic from long ago and really bring them to life in the modern setting. I think there is a relatable element when mixing modern technology with magic. With that said, I do have story ideas for an immersive fantasy series and a dystopian sci-fi, but for the moment I am content still exploring this urban fantasy world I have created.
When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?
I have always enjoyed telling stories. My second-grade teacher helped me bind the first story I wrote into a little book, and I remember being so proud of what I had done. I attribute my love of books and reading to my Grandmother Rosie. She was a Polish immigrant, who never got the privilege of going to school or receiving an education. As an adult, it was something she placed so much value on. I never really understood that as a kid. She bought us Hooked on Phonics, and while my siblings were in school; she worked with us every day on reading and writing. At the time, I thought it was so unfair. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized the amazing gift she had given me. I entered kindergarten reading and writing. By the time I was in third grade, I was reading well above my grade level. It culminated in the first time I got in real trouble in school when I refused to read the class-assigned book.
As I got older, the bullying started and I found my escape in the pages of books. A book could take me anywhere. I could be anything. Most importantly, it was an escape from the one thing everyone around me seemed to dislike: me. Soon, reading wasn’t enough. I began crafting my own stories and my own worlds. By the time I entered high school I knew writing was my passion. I knew I wanted to share my worlds with other people, but time has a way of dulling our passions. I remember stopping. I remember the day I quit on the manuscript I was working on that I was certain would be my big break. My college ambitions had fizzled. My parents thought a degree in creative writing was a waste of money. My only friend in the world joined the military and left for boot camp. It was time for me to “grow up” and join the working world. I started at a printing company, in perhaps the most soul-sucking, boring job of my life. Shortly after, I decided factory life wasn’t for me and tried going to college on my own. I was accepted into a two-year school, for the accounting program, and I took my first steps on a road that would leave my passion dormant for the next twenty years of my life.
What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?
I still have a lot of responsibilities and a full-time job. I can’t complain as I have found more than my fair share of success. This means, however, that my writing is done at night and on weekends. I tend to devote large blocks on either Saturday or Sunday for writing. I turn on some background music and just let the magic happen. I spend a lot of time on my commute thinking about what I want to write or what is happening in the next chapter so that when the weekend comes, I am prepared to bring all those musings to life.
How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?
I prefer my desktop; it’s just more comfortable for me. I tried a laptop and felt too cramped. I tried dictation, but my Maine accent is brutal for voice recognition. I also find I don’t speak like I write, so anything dictated tends to need serious editing.
What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)
My all-time favorite author is R. A. Salvatore. I think he is the master of cinematic fight scenes. Picking one of his books to stand out as a favorite is near impossible. From his popular Forgotten Realms books to his DemonWars Saga, Salvatore has time and time again shown he can make loveable characters and memorable books that not just last as fond memories, but also change you as a reader.
Following that I really enjoyed Daughter of the Drow by Elaine Cunningham, so much in fact that my second daughter is named after the main character.
How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
I stop writing. I find anything else to do. Go to the mall, go to the beach, anything. Writer’s block for me is a sign that I have spent too much time at the keyboard and not enough time out in the world. After an afternoon out and about, I usually find myself full of ideas. It could be for a character or a simple conversation, but the world around us is our inspiration. So when you are stuck, go immerse yourself in the wider world. Look at the stories playing out around you every day and before you know it, a quirk, a comment, or a moment becomes all the fuel you need.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t stop. The worst voice of all is the one in our heads telling us we are not good enough. That’s the secret, after all. We really don’t care what some stranger who says mean things to us thinks. After all, we might never even see them again. The reason their words hurt is often because they are affirming something negative we have said about ourselves with that little voice in our head.
When some stranger says “Your writing is terrible,” the pain comes not in the stranger’s words, but in how many times that little voice inside has said the same thing. It affirms our own internal narrative. So, change the narrative. Flip the script. You can do this. You can finish. Your story might not be everyone’s favorite, but it will be someone’s favorite. If you stop now, that someone will never get to experience your world, your characters.
We all need a world to escape to when this one becomes too much. Don’t let self-doubt take that escape away.
Thank you, author Reed Logan Westgate, for your insightful answers!
About the Book
The Infernal Games
The world you know is a lie…
It’s not that you have been duped, rather you are simply asleep. You didn’t ask for it; the forces of heaven and hell have kept you in a slumbering stupor. All around you, the awakened exist. Those individuals who know magic is real.
Xlina’s move to Portland, Maine, was supposed to be the start of a new life. A second chance. One that didn’t involve her magical-duty-obsessed druid father or her own legacy as a descendant of the Baku: an ancient creature that consumes nightmares. But when her court assigned social worker turns out to be a demon, Xlina finds herself drawn into a deadly game of survival with the stakes being her immortal soul.
If she can survive the Infernal Game, maybe she can redeem her enslaved soul. But survival means allying with the enigmatic necromancer Oxivius, who urges her to embrace her power instead of running from it. Steeped in the Dark Arts, Oxivius represents everything she has ever been told about evil. Will he be the key to her salvation or the road to eternal damnation?
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