Salem West is a corn fed overachiever from the lower Midwest, who studied hard, practiced religiously, spiked her qualifying exams, and earned a graduate degree in Public Policy from Vanderbilt. She spent more than twenty-five years managing environmental, nuclear, process safety, and security groups and contracts for a bevy of Beltway Bandits in Washington, D.C. In 2011, sanity prevailed and she retired from these pursuits to found her breakout blog, The Rainbow Reader. The blog combines homespun essays with queer-centric perspectives in book reviews that cover a wide swath of literature. In 2012, she was invited to write pre-release reviews for award-winning authors, Carol Anshaw and John Irving. Hoosier Daddy: A Heartland Romance is her first novel. At this writing, there are no pending, open, or outstanding warrants against Ms. West—a great relief to her wife, Ann McMan (Famous Author)
Hoosier Daddy, her novel written with wife Ann McMan is a finalist in the Lambda Lesbian Romance category, so i asked both of them our six questions – below are Salem’s answers, Ann’s can be found here.
1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?I love me some Tom Robbins and Christopher Moore, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions. It’s a hauntingly hysterical romp that explores classical themes such as sex, race, sex, politics, sex, environmental catastrophe, sex, aliens, sex, robots, sex, god, and sex. It features a feisty appearance by the author within its pages, and as an extra added bonus, it is full of downright naughty little doodles. It’s a gift that just keeps on giving.
2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
Driving through a sea of lightning bugs on a hot summer night—the perfect metaphor for finding your soul mate.
3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
Ann McMan and I talk constantly about writing—hers and mine—and pie, we talk a lot about pie. But in all seriousness, Ann is my best friend, confidant, and co-conspirator in all things. But the writing community is also omnipresent in my life. Friends like Barrett, Sandra Moran, Bev Prescott, Lynn Ames, and Baxter Clare Trautman are always in the wings with information, inspiration, and insight. They’re also there with a well-timed bitch slap, when needed. It works out for us.
4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
I won’t kid you, it feels great to know that all of
the hard work and sleepless nights resulted in something that someone reads and declares “worthy”. But more than that, in the still of the night, it quietly reminds you how very much more work you have to do to become the writer you know you can be.
5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish?
For the literary, whether writing essays or fiction, I want to continue to refine my voice. For the otherwise, I’d like to master the Cm7b5 chord on my mandolin without dislocating a pinky.
6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
I’m always working on my review blog, and there is another collaboration potentially in the works that will be more in the pulp fiction genre. I’ve also started toying around with a story set, again, in the lower Midwest—this one will explore the theme of legacy.
Thanks to Salem for the relatively sane answers – wonderful to have her view of the world. You can read her fuller biog on the Salem West author page.