Saturday, February 16, 2013

Interview with Author and Police Officer Leonard Walker

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.
I'm Leonard Walker, and my book is The Wormhole Effect. I work as a police officer during the day, but I write fiction and poetry in my free time. Wormhole is a science fiction novel that centers on a love story between a beautiful scientist and a WWII fighter pilot who inadvertently escapes a dogfight over Europe by falling through a wormhole into the present day. It's scheduled for publication by SynergEbooks in March.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My grandmother actually inspired my first book. She was a wonderful storyteller and knew just how to captivate a young boy with words images, and an essential lesson at the heart of every story. For me they were like parables in the Bible that helped you to understand the lessons.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to be graphic and visceral when I write. I want you to feel the textures on your skin just as vividly as the knot tightening in your gut during the more intense scenes.

How did you come up with the title?
The Wormhole Effect simply reflects how the discovery of this wormhole touches every character in the story, and subsequently the reader.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess that true love, loyalty, and a commitment to the people you care for can overcome any adversity, and that perseverance pays off.

How much of the book is realistic?
It is as realistic as I could make it. I write hard sci-fi, and I want the reader to believe that everything in my story is not only plausible, but very possible. Realism and the blend of actual history with the fictional elements lend credibility to any narrative.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I was a pilot in during my college years, and I've always loved aviation, so making the protagonist a pilot was a natural choice.

What books have most influenced your life most?
I guess the early novels I read in junior high school by Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were always the impetus behind my dreams of writing my own fantastic tales of science and adventure. As I got older, I became a voracious consumer of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, James P. Hogan, and Frank Herbert. Once I read Childhood's End I was hooked on sci-fi.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Definitely Isaac Asimov. He was more than just a writer. He was a true Renaissance Man and so far ahead of his own time. First and foremost he was a teacher and a visionary, and I think we could all take a lesson or two from his life.

What book are you reading now?
I recently finished Seal Team Six by Howard E. Wasdin. It's a gritty, honest memoir of a Navy SEAL sniper. I featured a rogue group of former SEALs in my book, and I considered it supplemental research.

Are there any new authors who have grasped your interest?
None come to mind.

What are your current projects?
I'm nearly finished with the draft of my second novel that centers on cloning technology and a misguided geneticist who wants to recreate the great geniuses of history into a super cadre of brilliant minds. My working title is The Phoenix Protocol.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I can't think of any.

Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I can't see myself doing anything else.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I really don't think so. I'm satisfied with the story and my characters.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My dad wrote the most beautiful songs when I was a kid. The way he put words together was such an amazing thing to me, and I always marveled at his talent. He's always been the one person I hope to be like. I've been writing poetry for so many years simply because I wanted to emulate his mastery of lyrics and rhythm. Poetry just sort of led naturally to writing fiction.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I tend to use a lot of simile and metaphor. Sometimes finding just the right reference to convey image, emotion, or event can be difficult. It's just one of those things that when that perfect reference pops in your head, you know it. It can't be forced until it's ready to happen.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

My favorite author is actually Stephen King. I know he's not exactly known for sci-fi, but he really isn't recognized enough for his technical mastery of the craft. He is an absolute genius when he uses simile and metaphor to describe the various elements and images in his stories. When he compares two things in a metaphorical description, and I'll be in awe of his ability to connect two completely unrelated things in such a way to change your perspective of those elements while vividly painting a picture in your mind. He is, in my opinion, the greatest living writer.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

No. I wrote it all at home on my laptop.

Who designed the covers?

The cover art is currently in production at SynergEbooks, but I submitted some ideas to the publisher. I can't wait to see it.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Like any other novel, they aren't written; they're rewritten. Revising and editing are always the chore that strays from the creative process and restricts you to the technical dissection and critique of the narrative. It leaves the creative half of the brain and relies on the analytic side.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I did some exhaustive research on time travel, string theory, quantum mechanics, and even read the technical manual from a P-51 fighter to learn the exact bail-out checklist for accuracy. I wanted anyone familiar with any element of my story to believe that I was writing from experience.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don't stop writing. Don't quit or allow yourself to give up on a good story. See it through. Get your draft done and fix everything in the rewrite. Spend time each day writing, and let everything you read or write teach you something.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Strap yourself in and hold on for the ride.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
The research was exhausting, but getting inside the mind of the characters got easier as I got farther into the story. At a certain point, the characters take over the narrative and you become more of an observer than an author. You may know where the story is going eventually, but it's the characters who create a new dynamic and actually take you there.

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