Interview With Author Luke Walker

# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!

Hi. My name’s Luke Walker. I’m yet another bald writer – horror, spec thrillers, dark stuff. It’s what I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Ditto what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I started taking it seriously in my late teens, wrote a bunch of terrible short stories, worse novels and eventually found my voice. These days, I predominately write books but always try to knock out a few short stories in between novels. My stuff goes from full-on action horror (The Mirror Of The Nameless, The Day Of The New Gods and The Nameless) to creepy stuff (The Dead Room) to fantastical (The Unredeemed) to graphic violence (The Kindred). Horror and dark fiction is such a massive area, there’s room for the writer to explore all of its facets. With that in mind, my recent stuff has been more grounded in reality than older books, so I’m getting into speculative thrillers rather than outright supernatural horror.

# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?

Hard to say, really. I often have two or three ideas that don’t seen to be connected until some small thing links them and the overall plot develops from there. I wrote a book a few years ago called Ascent which takes place in an office building I used to walk past every day. I imagined people trapped in there for some reason, then wrote a short story involving a nuclear threat. I’d also been thinking about how the land around that building might have looked a hundred years ago. Those ideas linked to form a story about strangers trapped in an office block during a nuclear attack while an ancient god under the ground feeds on their panic and fear. The Kindred came from wanting to explore the good guys/bad guys issue and make the reader root for the monsters. It was a similar deal in The Unredeemed. Bad guys are often more interesting than the good guys.

More often than not, I get inspiration from people I know, global events or simply from thinking what if?

# What inspires/inspired your creativity?

Definitely other writers. If I read a book by an author new to me or another great one by an established writer, it’s the same result of wanting to write something that moves me in the same way. I also like to play with standard tropes. The Dead Room is a book about the apocalypse but brought down to the story of a mother looking for her child. I wanted something small with a massive backdrop. I like the finer details in a large story. My Mirror series is Lovecraftian in that it’s about monster gods, but it’s also straight out action horror with a family story running through the three books. I don’t often set out to play with tropes, but it’s a lot of fun to do so.

# How do you deal with creative block?

To be honest, I rarely get it. I often come up with a loose outline for the plot otherwise, I tend to get lost and waffle. If I’m really stuck with where a character is going, I leave it for a day or so, let myself think about it without being aware of it and go from there. I’ve never been so stuck that I have to completely abandon a story.

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

Forget that 99% of your readers want to be entertained. They’ll be OK with your politics, for example, as long as don’t hit them over the head with it. Be subtle. Remember your readers are likely to be adults. Treat them as such. Do otherwise and you run the risk of messing up the most important issue with any book. The story (and the writing) is more important than the writer.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

Don’t rush either. My titles come when they come – could be before I’ve written a word, halfway through or right at the end. You’ll know the right title when you find it. If you’re doing your own covers, then don’t rush those, either. Get them as professional as you can afford. Get feedback from other writers. If you’re working with a publisher, offer your ideas. You know your book inside out, but the publisher knows how to make money (or should do). Your book is art; their business is just that. Business. Talk to them. Compromise and work together.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I’ve been doing this long enough and am stubborn enough not to care too much. The reviews are nothing to do with the writer, anyway. They’re for other readers. Someone’s opinion is exactly that and if they want to share it with readers, then go ahead. Not everyone will love a book and that whole ‘if you can’t say something nice’ thing doesn’t factor into it. If you’re putting your creations out into the world, then develop a thick skin or the bad reviews will end you.

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I think so. I’ve been writing ‘seriously’ for 25 years. These days, I have set times and days I write and when I take a break. Obviously, I have to balance this with my 9-5 and the rest of my life. I can produce a first draft in a couple of months; I leave it for another month and then begin work on the read through, the second draft and final edits. Beginning to end, I have a new book within five to six months. My routine has changed a hell of a lot thanks to the pandemic and working in different jobs over the last year, but I think I’ve got it going, again.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

The best is definitely the moment the book clicks and I realise the main angle/point of the story. That comes at different times, but it needs to always come. Otherwise, the book is probably going to fall flat. The worst is the wondering if anyone will care or actually buy the book if it’s published. Most surprising is probably in the read through when I come across a line or a paragraph that I don’t really remember writing. When I can look at it impartially and know I’ve got something special, that’s pretty sweet.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

Definitely both. I need to like my story and know it’s written to the best of my abilities, but I also have to please any potential readers. If a writer focuses solely on their own enjoyment of the tale and doesn’t keep the audience in mind, they will probably lose that audience. On the other hand, if a writer is clearly fully invested in their book, that comes through. It’s a case of finding the sweet spot between the two. That can make taking a step back in the edits and looking at it as if you’re the reader, not the writer.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

I try to creep myself out. When I have to do, I dig deep into the stuff that makes me who I am. Other times, I don’t have to dig far. I’m the same as writer as a reader – I want characters you can invest in. I want to feel their triumphs and their fears. I want to grieve with them and relish their survival. If I, as a writer, can connect with them just as much as I can as a reader, then I’m on to a winner.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

No. Not at all. Writing is a job. I don’t have tricks in my 9-5; I don’t have them in writing. Outside of liking music while I write, there isn’t anything but sitting down and typing.

# What are your plans for future books?

Definitely more spec thrillers than outright horror. I’m working on the second draft of an impossible murder story and outlining something that may end up being a kind of supernatural urban thriller in a very British way. My agent has a near future thriller about state-sanctioned murder so I’m hoping that sells soon. Publishing isn’t a speedy business, though.

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself

I’ve got a scar running across the top of my head (more visible than ever these days) from taking a nose dive down a friend’s stairs when I was very drunk and very much 19. Thankfully, I’m over six feet tall, so there aren’t many people who can see it.

[email protected]