Crystal Elizabeth Westman
Crystal Elizabeth Westman is the author of Intoxicated Witch, she studied at Concordia University and paid an exorbitant amount to read books. She then went to Toronto to write her own. She now resides in Mexico City with her rescue dog, Millie, and is currently writing her second novel.
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I’m excited to learn more about your book and your writing approach. To kick things off, tell me a little about yourself.
- I am currently living in Mexico City, which might surprise some people. I am Canadian but have a very close-knit group of people here who I now consider extended family. I finally took the plunge to move here last January, 2 months before the pandemic. These days, I spend a lot of time looking for the best taco stand. I take my dog, Millie, for walks in the park (the parks here are beautiful, and all have incredible dog friendly areas). I love camping and hiking and adventuring, which I’ve had the chance to do a little throughout the pandemic, with safe measures in place and following the protocols here.
Oooh, I love camping. It’s my jam. That’s fantastic! What led you to write fantasy?
- I began in acting, which led me to writing scripts. I was at the Toronto International Film Festival a few years ago where I wrangled a bunch of contacts to pitch a TV show. The feedback wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for. All positive criticism aside, the one thing they asked for was an authentic story. That advice led me to writing Intoxicated Witch, a story about a young woman struggling with love, identity, and her own personal demons. It was also intended to be a script, but it somehow turned into a novel. One day I looked over it and realized, “holy smokes—I wrote a book!” I guess you can say it was a happy accident.
I love it. What a great accident! Going along with that, what sub-genres of fantasy do you prefer to write?
- Magical realism is my thing. Though I love to read and write about all sorts of things: classics, philosophy, poetry. I recently finished reading Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and I cannot recommend it enough – very magical, extremely empowering.
Do you write with a particular message or worldview in mind?
- Even though my characters may have a specific worldview, I usually try to write about universal themes. For instance, Flora is a witch, but the book is about addiction and recovery. My next novel is about the pandemic from varying perspectives.
I admire your approach. Fantasy is a great platform for realism, honestly.
What is your preferred writing style? Does it coincide with your reading preferences?
- Is sarcasm a style? I really like writing in the present tense, as it allows the reader to grasp a character’s point of view in the moment and follow their story in real time. But I tend to embrace all narrative styles, and usually end up throwing the rules out the window.
Do you prefer a sympathetic villain or someone a reader loves to hate? Or is there another kind of villain you prefer to write?
- I like both. But I prefer to write about human nature in general, so I suppose that would make all my characters villains to some degree. I’m interested in the gritty aspects of being human, the hard stuff, the imperfections, the stuff that makes us question our existence.
Tell me more about one of your published works.
- Following the guiding principles of 11:11 – in an intoxicated haze – Flora Blume takes a long drug induced walk through the streets of Toronto’s grimy east side and meets various soulmates along the way.
It sounds so intriguing. Great pitch!
Tell me a little more about what you’re working on now?
- A novel on the pandemic, told from three alternating perspectives.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
- I’m a big fan of Cheryl Strayed who wrote WILD. Anthony Bourdain – Kitchen Confidential. Chuch Palahniuk, and classic writers like Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. Because they all have a certain something the world needs more of: Grit and honesty.
Great choices! What are your writing habits?
- I write from my bed, or at my desk. Usually sipping on some whiskey or caffeine, depending on the time of day. Whiskey preferably in the morning for clarity and caffeine at night to keep me awake. Try it! You’ll thank me later.
Do you prefer to plot your books out in advance, or do you dive in and see where the story takes you?
- Always. The key is to always have a story board. Mine usually looks like a long shopping list of points to tackle in each chapter…. Then I go from there.
Do you enjoy writing plot-driven or character-driven stories more?
- They both hold merit and value in my mind. I like stories that can achieve both. In fact, I feel a good story is one that aims to incorporate an interesting plot line with strong character development. Just like in real life, do you want to date someone who only gives you a thrill every now and again…. Or do you want someone you can do exciting things with while being emotionally engaged? You know, a fully three-dimensional human being. Same goes for stories.
I love it! What type of fantasy mediums do you most enjoy?
- I’m a TV addict. I still watch the Charmed series on repeat, and all those witchy, fantasy driven stories about magic. I’m currently watching Sabrina and Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches.
What destination in the world would you most like to visit?
- Hollywood. The land of professional storytelling.
What is a fun quirk you have?
- Day drinking.
In closing, what advice do you have for up-and-coming writers?
- Write from the gut. That’s where the magic is.
Amen to that! I wholeheartedly agree.
Thank you again for taking the time to interview with me, Crystal! I wish you every success with your continued writing endeavors!
To follow Crystal’s author journey, and find her book, The Intoxicated Witch, check out the links below!