Talkshow Thursday: Meet John Walker!
John: Heartless grew from an unsettling interaction with a patient. I can’t give identifying details. But I can tell you that I will never forget my sudden fear in that moment. Something I told him triggered an abrupt change in his demeanor. It reminded me of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace. When the three Hebrew servants openly defied him, his countenance changed toward them. That’s what I saw—an immediate change in attitude revealed in every part of his face, his movement, his posture, and his words. That moment inspired my villain.
LM: Sounds scary. You have a full career as a physician – quite different from the life of a writer. Tell us a bit about your journey to publication.
John: It’s been a long road. I started my first novel almost 20 years ago and self-published it when self-publishing was in its infancy and was really considered taboo. I’ve learned a lot the hard way and still have a lot to learn.
LM: What is your favorite aspect of writing?
John: I love diving into a character and letting the character surprise me with something I didn’t expect.
LM: What do you do to prepare for writing, and how do you juggle that with your day job?
John: Sometimes I think I do my best writing when I’m not writing. I will set the story aside and not even be thinking about it when something will trigger a thought that fits into the story. Finding time to write can be challenging. I have a lot of things on several plates, so I have to carve out time to write. I work best under pressure. Setting a deadline to have a manuscript ready for editing before a conference is a strong motivator for me. I lead a critique group. They keep me sharp and give me the motivation to have a sample ready for each meeting.
LM: What sort of research did you do for Heartless, and was there any particular piece of information you were compelled to include in the story?
John: Research adds depth and texture and helps me write a story that feels authentic. If I’m uncertain
LM: You’ve accomplished quite a lot. What is one thing you wish you could do?
John: I would really love to write an epic fantasy that reflects the depth and mystery of life’s journey. I want it to be a heroic tale with the power and breadth of The Lord of the Rings, but I want it to be something fresh. I’m waiting for the right idea.
LM: What is a piece of advice you have for fledgling writers?
John: I thought I was a good writer when I first started. I wanted to be original and not copy anyone else’s work, so I followed the temptation to figure it out on my own. That is a big mistake. Every new writer needs to be a dry, compressed sponge tossed into the ocean of writing wisdom. There is so much to learn and good writing is not good enough. There are too many good books and readers want great writing, so a new writer, especially, needs to write great books. That might mean scrapping a book or two or rewriting a book. That’s what I ultimately did with my first novel. I rewrote it, set it before my beta readers, and rewrote it again. I encourage writers to learn all they can about their craft. Most importantly, know your readers and write for them. Authors write for readers, not themselves. A writer may find satisfaction in writing, but an author finds satisfaction in writing that connects with readers.
LM: What is your next project?
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
John: http://www.johnmatthewwalker.com is the easiest place to start. From there, you can link to my books, social media, and my inspirational blog (overcoffee.xyz).
At only seventeen, Emma is used, abused, and discarded. She runs a thousand miles away from shame and judgment and falls into the arms of a stranger. One careless mistake, and she plummets into the hellish world of sex-trafficking. Her pimp takes everything from her, starting with her name. Deep in that darkness, Emma must find herself and find a way out. Her story is a tantalizing suspense that awakens hope.
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