Weston Ochse is the author of nine novels, most recently SEAL Team 666. His first novel, Scarecrow Gods, won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in First Novel. He’s also had published more than a hundred short stories, many of which appeared in anthologies, magazines, peered journals and comic books. His short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
Weston holds Bachelor’s Degrees in American Literature and Chinese Studies from Excelsior College. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from National University. He has been to more than fifty countries and speaks Chinese with questionable authority. Weston has studied martial arts for more than 30 years, including Tae Kwon Do, Ryu Kempo Jujitsu, Kali, and Kuai Lua.
His last name is pronounced “oaks.” Together with his first name, it sounds like a stately trailer park. He lives in the Arizona desert within rock throwing distance of Mexico. For fun he races tarantula wasps and watches the black helicopters dance along the horizon.
Weston took time out of his very busy schedule to chat with us about his newest novel, SEAL Team 666!
Kristin Centorcelli: Weston, thanks so much for joining us! Will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Weston Ochse: Sure. Here’s the Cliff Note Version. Born just south of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Moved around a bunch as a kid following my English Professor father, until eventually settling down to life in Eastern Tennessee. Flunked out of two colleges and joined the army. After a twenty year career with time spent in infantry, special operations and special mission units, I retired and went to work for the U.S. military in a civilian status. Eventually received a Bachelor’s Degree in American Literature and Chinese Asian Studies, then a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Have written ten novels, more than a hundred short stories and an equal number of non-fiction. Won awards. Have a beautiful wife. Three Great Danes to curl around my feet. And a fine home in southern Arizona.
KC: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
WO: I really have. My first story was published in the school newspaper when I was eight. It was too violent, and the parents made the school recall the paper. I didn’t write again until I turned thirty.
KC: Your new novel, SEAL Team 666 is about a very special team that handles things that are decidedly outside of the norm. Was there any particular inspiration for your hero, Jack Walker?
WO: Jack Walker is me of course. At least he’s who I’d be if I was six foot two, in amazing shape, unafraid of anything, and was a Navy sniper. As a main character, I try to make him an everyman. I want him as normal as possible with the same problems and the same issues as the people reading the book.
KC: Is there anything in particular that you need to have when writing, that helps you get the creative juices flowing?
WO: A fifth of Polish vodka, butterscotch candy, and the musical stylings of Weird Al Yankovic. That’s a joke. I don’t really need anything. I could write a story in the back of a tank moving across open grassland. I have a terrific ability to concentrate when I need to. I can work in utter chaos and be happy.
KC: Without thinking too hard about it, is there one particular novel that comes to mind that influenced you more than others?
WO: I suppose it depends on the types of novels. Because I straddle several genres—horror, dark fantasy, science fiction, military, thriller, literary –I get my inspiration from many different novels. I belief that the best military genre novel is Joe Haldeman’s Forever War. I think about that all the time.
KC: There are strong horror elements incorporated into SEAL Team 666. What’s something that you find particularly terrifying?
WO: Possession and ghosts. Possession is a big part of the first novel. The next novel, Age of Blood, which I just turned in, has both possession and ghosts. I believe in them. I’ve encountered them in real life. They scare the hell out of me.
WO: The biggest thing that killed horror wasn’t the cheesy covers of the 1980s and it wasn’t some of the silly titles. It was the ending of the Cold War. Without something to be constantly in fear of, there was no reason for readers to seek something else to replace that fear. Now, with the constant threat of transnational terrorism, people are once more becoming aware that there is something out there that could strike any minute without warning. That’s one big fear in people’s lives and most folks want to be afraid of something else. Something in a book. Something they can control by the turn of the page or the closing of the pages.
KC: What’s next for you? Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
WO: As I mentioned, I just turned in SEAL Team 666: Age of Blood, which follows the team into Mexico. In the book readers will learn more about the history of the teams, more about the selection process, and more about their backgrounds. Many readers have been screaming for more information about the team members. They’ve asked and I have answered.
I also have a big book coming out from Solaris next year called Grunt Life. It’s a military science fiction novel set in the near future. I’m really looking forward to writing this. Looks like I’ll write it while I’m on deployment in Afghanistan.