Saturday, May 1, 2010
Author Interview: Luke Walker
Today I am interviewing Luke Walker, who is published in Dark Fire Fiction.
Tell me about yourself. How long have you been writing? When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’ve been writing for pretty much as long as I can remember. I’ve always read as much as I can and that translated without much thought into writing my own fiction. My early stuff was awful: a mix of teenage angst and purple prose that wanted to sound like Clive Barker and wasn’t even close. From about the age of twenty (twelve years ago), I started developing my own voice with an eye on publication. My first two books took me four years and were both terrible. My third was an improvement and while it wasn’t up to publishable standard, I’m fond of it because it was the first piece of fiction I wrote that felt like my own work and not a rip off of someone else.
Since then, I’ve written another five books and numerous short stories and focused more on horror and fantasy. I tell people I write fantasy but that’s a pretty broad term. A lot of people think it means Lord of the Rings or brooding vampires. For me, it means anything beyond the ‘normal’ world, anything that frightens us because it’s, to varying degrees, unknown.
As for free time…I’m more or less always focused on writing so I don’t have a lot of it. That’s not to say I walk around with my writer head on all the time, but I do write as much as I can. Other than that, my wife, my 9-5 job and my friends fill the rest of my time.
You are currently published in Dark Fire Fiction. Can you tell us a little about your work?
I love the idea of the normal world clashing with the fantastical. So, the world of your job, your mates down the pub, your Saturday afternoon spent gardening meet the world of the walking dead, angels and demons, fairies, and ghosts. It’s in the familiar that we have the potential to be the most scared. Say you get lost in a dodgy area of a city you don’t know. You’re going to be nervous, of course, but you know the chances are high you can find your way to safety. Once you’re out of that dodgy area, you don’t have to go back. Now say you see a ghost in your own back garden. This is a place you’re meant to be safe. Your home is your refuge and when that refuge is invaded by the unknown, then where can you feel safe?
With that in mind, I write about friends, pubs, work, and towns meeting the dead or travelling in time or getting pulled into a battle between ghosts and demons. When normality clashes with the bizarre, the struggle isn’t only to survive. It’s to make sense of the real world.
How long did it take you to write the story?
The stories in Dark Fire varied from a day to a few weeks. I write the first draft as quickly as I can, leave it for at least few days and then read through to edit. The shortest story was Mirrors which didn’t take long at all. I had the idea of a young boy threatened by hands coming out of mirrors and wanted to write a short, creepy piece which would hopefully be made creepier by the lack of explanation. ASBO, on the other hand, was a fair bit longer and gave me chance to look at our world as it might become one day.
What was your favourite scene to write?
ASBO was a lot of fun which hopefully doesn’t make me sound like a nutjob who wants to kill people. In terms of favourite scene, I liked the moment when the car hits the woman AND her son. In horror, we shouldn’t shy away from the unpleasant and child murder is obviously seen as more unpleasant than adult murder. I wanted to really hammer it home that it’s a horror story. That doesn’t mean it always needs a load of blood and guts. It just needs to be horrific.
They Always Get Inside In The Films was also fun. Zombies are a very familiar area in horror fiction, but they can still be used effectively. The story came from visiting a house my sister lived in which was pretty much as it is in the story. My brother and I looked around the house, looked outside at the fields going for miles and the one narrow road going back to the village and both told our sister that she would be in trouble when the zombies come.
Again, there’s child murder in this one and that was deliberate. If such a situation happened, you wouldn’t be safe just because you’re a baby or a toddler. I wouldn’t write a scene simply to shock or gross out the reader. Then it just becomes boring. But at the same time, a horror writer should be careful with limiting himself.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers that are trying to get published?
Talking about writing won’t get you very far. You have to write. Sit down every day and write. It doesn’t have to be thousands of words and it doesn’t have to be great with the first go. Just write and keep going until you reach the end. That is so important. Even if you’re full of ideas and you want to start a new book, focus on one. You can jot down ideas for a new one and let it grow in your mind while you write that one book. Once your first draft is done, leave it for a few weeks. A month will be OK. Then read it through aloud. You’ll see great chunks that are rubbish. Don’t worry. That’s what the read through and editing are for.
Make notes of what works and what doesn’t. Then write version 2. Repeat your edit. And repeat until the book is as good as it can be. Sounds like hard, boring work, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Writing isn’t easy, but it is fulfilling and your book deserves to be the best it can be.
Also, read a lot. And I mean a lot. Read the old classics even if they look dull and dated. Work out why they’re seen as classics. Read popular modern books and work out why they’re popular. If you think they’re crap, decide why. There are published books which are hugely popular but are very poorly written. Work out the difference between a great story and great writing, then work on developing both for your own books.
Lastly, your story is the boss of you. Not the other way around. Listen to it, take it where it wants to go even if that’s nowhere near where you thought you were going.
What is the best way for readers to contact you? (e-mail, facebook, twitter, etc)
You can find me on http://www.absolutewrite.com/. I’m seun. Or email me at email@example.com