Welcome to our weekly feature,
Information from both the author’s and the reader’s points of view concerning the publishing frontier known as e-publishing.
This week, we present an interview with a writer we call “Mr. Prolific” — Robert Walker, Professor of Creative Writing at West Virginia State University and author of fifty novels including Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. So, grab a cup of coffee or pour yourself a cold brew — beverages are always on the house — pull up a chair, and enjoy!
Special! Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic, Bismarck 2013 – Hitler’s Curse, and Children of Salem will ALL be available as FREE Kindle downloads on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17!!
At what age did you first realize you wanted to write books and how/when did you first share this ambition with “the world”? I was always fascinated with reading stories as early as I have memory of, and reading led me into writing. I wrote my first complete short story in sixth or seventh grade, an action chase story, and my fellow students and teacher so enjoyed it, it decided my career path then and there. I loved moving people with words. I had also internalized by then Robert Frost’s poem: The Road Less Taken, and I knew I was always going to be on that road. I am still on that road!
Who in your life and what authors you read had the most influence over your decision to write? Mark Twain for certain, as I studied his work extremely closely to ‘learn’ from the best. I would add many other classic writers from Robert Louis Stevenson to Alexander Dumas, Conan Doyle, Dickens, and Bram Stoker as well as H.G. Wells. I was also influenced heavily by TV programs such as One Step Beyond, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits. I have always been fascinated with the unusual and unique and amazing story over the more tame story.
In your most-recent novel “Titanic – Curse of RMS Titanic,” your writing spans several genres from horror to suspense to science fiction and two story lines, one set in 1912 and the other in 2012. Was this your most ambitious novel to-date and did you find the writing more difficult or more fun because of these elements? I had just come off my most ambitious novel, the book I felt I was ‘born to write’ which is Children of Salem – love amid the Witch Trials of Salem 1692. I knew then I had to tackle something big just to follow up on Children, and years before I had wanted to do this Titanic title. I had in fact done a great deal of research, but at the time I could get no interest from publishers, as many were jaded by the release of James Cameron’s film by the title of Titanic. However, like Children of Salem (rejected by every publisher on the planet and any agent who looked at it), Titanic’s time had come because Kindle Readers, and thus Kindle publishing, had come into being, so I did an end run around the publishing world as it used to be, and became one of those oft published authors who jumped ship before it went down, so to speak, by making Titanic like Children a Kindle Original title never seen in publication anywhere else! Played that angle up and voila!
Are you a dog person or cat person and what kind of canine or feline assistance with your writing do you receive, if any? I have had dogs, but presently have two cats and they are enough trouble. They are both odd and lazy and help not a whit or a wit with the writing, try as I might to get them involved – much like my children, ha! I like both cats and dogs.
You currently have 35 out of the top 50 titles on Amazon.com in the category “Medical Examiner Mysteries.” Is this due to your overall success as an author, to the popularity of the genre, or to a little of both? I suspect a little of both and how Amazon does its rankings. When honest with myself, I begin to believe that somehow in all the tagging and posturing online that I may have inadvertently ‘invented’ the category called Medical Examiner Mysteries so far as the Kindle Store is concerned. I can’t explain these stats any other way. A fluke…quite a nice fluke! I have spent three and a half years now creating my ‘brand’ on Facebook and Twitter as an Indie author; I am having to be an Indie marketeer and PR person for the books as well as the author. Not sure if this answers your question, but I feel most of my e-book readers never saw or ever heard of my paperback career with legacy publishing. Kindle has given new life to all my out of print, dead titles, resurrecting my career and reinventing Rob Walker.
Your books have been published both traditionally and through e-publishing. Which do you prefer and why? I had on average one and two books a year being published by Jove, Zebra, Dorchester, Penguin, etc., about 8 in all. Even after having published 40 novels, I was treated like a first time novelist when it came to new proposed work. Decisions took forever, and often when a book was accepted, the editor/publisher would lose interest by the time another year rolled around to publication date. Too often an editor would leave, which left my book ‘orphaned.’ This happens to many authors, and the book then is ‘orphaned,’ so that any game plan for selling it is non-existent. The problems also of unreadable royalty statements and book returns and remaindered books — all said business eventually wears you, the low man on the totem pole for payment, down.