Weston Ochse, author of Empire of Salt: Tomes of the Dead (Feb 21-27)

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Weston Ochse, author of Empire of Salt: Tomes of the Dead (Feb 21-27)

Feb 22, 2011, 9:17 am

Please welcome Weston Ochse, author of Empire of Salt: Tomes of the Dead. Weston will be chatting on LibraryThing until February 27th.

Edited: Feb 22, 2011, 11:45 am

Hello everyone.

It's great to be here. Thank you for Library Thing for the invitation and hosting this week-long event.

A little about me. I was born in Wyoming, raised in Eastern Tennessee, and have spent my adult life traveling around the world. I've been to 53 countries, to include every island nation in the Pacific.

I've written five novels and am contracted for a sixth. I've had more than 100 short stories published in magazines, collections, anthologies, and comic books. I've written extensive nonfiction, including being a founding member of Storytellers Unplugged and how to articles in Writer's Digest writing guides.

I hold a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Screenwriting. I've won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for Short Fiction, and won the 2010 Buffalo Screams International Film Festival Original Screenplay Competition.

My inspirations are Sherman Alexie, Joe R. Lansdale, Katherine Dunn, China Mieville, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Dan Simmons.

My most recent novel is Empire of Salt. It's an unabashed zombie novel, but rather than center the action around the zombies, I center the action around the characters. I've been accused of writing a zombie novel like an Irwin Allen Production. Remember Earthquake (in sens-around), The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno? These were disaster movies and in Empire of Salt the zombies are the disaster, which my multitude of characters must survive.

Enough about me. I'm open to any question anyone might have about anything.

Feb 22, 2011, 2:00 pm

What would your most important advice be to someone who wants to be a writer and is just starting out?

Feb 22, 2011, 2:19 pm

The most important piece of advice for someone just starting?

Ignore that voice in your head. You know the one. That voice that tells you:

That you'll never succeed. That it's too hard. That it's too much work. That your lack of knowledge about grammar will fail you. That you have no imagination. That you don't have enough time. That you can't do it without feedback. That you need to go back and edit.

That voice is fear. It's your internalized self doubt. When we begin, the creature inside of us who owns that voice is more powerful than we were. We must figure out ways to trick it so that we can write. But the more we write, the more powerful we become and the less power self doubt has over us.

So my advice is to write, ignore the self doubt, and write. Don't edit. Editing isn't the kind of writing you want to do. You need to create. Write, create, then when finished, edit.

Anything else and your self doubt wins.

Feb 22, 2011, 4:36 pm

Wes, what can you tell us about the next Aegis and Vampire Outlaw releases.

Feb 22, 2011, 4:44 pm

Sure. Cycle of the Aegis book three is on hold. I just can't tell you anything more than that.

Vampire Outlaw Series. Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way and Lord of the Lash and Our Lady of the Boogaloo are the first two books in the series. Book Three, The Loup Garou Kid was finished and turned in last fall to Bad Moon Books. The cover art is working as we speak and the publisher has promised me that it will be released this fall around September.

I think everyone will be happy the way the series concluded. Where as Book one was the story of the boy and the vampire, book two was primarily the story of the vampire, book three is the story of the boy grown up.

Edited: Feb 24, 2011, 7:15 pm


I absolutely enjoyed SALT (as well as all of your other works), though I'm still not sure about killing-off the most beloved characters...I get the part about making them into deranged, blood thirsty zombies sans humanity (they can't help eating people, it's what zombies do), but it's hard to see such (awesome) characters lost on the battlefield.



Feb 23, 2011, 6:20 pm

Hi Weston,

I really, really enjoyed Vampire Outlaw. I thought of it as space opera, first and foremost. Seeing how you describe Heinlein as one of your inspirations, do you have any plans to put together a military SciFi tale in the vein of his Starship Troopers? It would be extremely interesting to see what you do in that genre.

Feb 24, 2011, 12:00 am

Hello Mr. Ochse. So, set the record straight for all of us... How do you pronounce your last name? Is it, "Oaks?"

Keep up the great work!

Feb 24, 2011, 1:56 pm


thanks very much for the kudos.

As I've mentioned before, to me a zombie novel is like an Irwin Allen Production. Very few survived those movies, just as very few survive my zombies. But I think you'll agree that every death was a satisfying death. (Notes that the last sentence seems odd even in context.)


Feb 24, 2011, 1:59 pm


thanks for the kind words about Vampire Outlaw of the Milky Way. It's definitely a space opera, hearkening back to those old pulp space operas I grew up on. You know, I'd love to work on a sci fi tale in the vein of Starship Troopers or Armor by John Steakley. I'm doing a dark apocalyptic sci fi novel for Abaddon Books this year called Blood Ocean. Maybe I can do one of those after this one. I'd certainly love it.


Feb 24, 2011, 2:02 pm


please pronounce it Wes. Of if you must, Oaks. Or as Harlan Ellison told me once, "your name sounds like a trailer park. Or maybe a nursing home where people go to die. Weston Ochse. Yep."