Hello Tony. Can you please introduce yourself?
My name’s Tony Walker, and right now, I’m based in Scarborough, N. Yorkshire, after detours via London and a period of exile in Arizona (18 years).
How long have you been writing?
My first attempt at writing took place in 1972, when I was dealing in military collectibles in Portobello Road, London. A friend knew I specialised in US Army items, and asked me to write an article on them for a new magazine he was publishing.
I wrote 1000 words, it was published, and most importantly, I was paid for it!
What first got you interested in writing?
Realising that I could get paid for doing something I enjoyed.
Do you attend a writing group?
We moved back to the UK from Arizona last November, and began to attend the Scarborough Writers Circle in January last.
Why do you attend a writing group?
I’ve been a professional (well, I’ve always been paid for my work) writer for years, so I joined to see if I could be of help to anyone wanting to write.
What genre(s) do you write?
My magazine writing was mainly for shooting magazines, both here and in the USA, but I’ve also had pieces published in collector magazines.
My fiction work is ‘thud and blunder’ stories, or action thrillers as they are called now.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
I can’t get interested in vampires, zombies, sci-fi, or romance. Vampires? Boring people, who you’ll never see eating Italian food (too much garlic), or stretched out on a sunbed. Zombies? I prefer villains who can move a little faster. Sci-fi? Too much of it is little more than cowboys and Indians in space suits. Romance? There’s romance in my novels, but I prefer some action too.
If you're only interested in making money from writing, perhaps you should jump on the vampire bandwagon! What types of things do you write?
I did once, when we lived in a little place called Apache Junction in Arizona, start to write a country song. The first verse began like this:
We-ell the pickup’s broke,My wife’s done gone,And now the cat’s got cancer
Couldn’t think of anything else depressing enough to write, so I gave it up as a bad job.
Have you ever had anything published?
Military Collectibles, published by Salamander Press in the 1980sHow to Win a Gunfight, self published 2005 and still selling!
Snides, self published 2004Pilgrim’s Banner, self published 2009
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers?
In the USA, I had an agent, who loved Snides. After signing up with him, he sent it to all of his ‘A’ list publishers (Penguin, Dutton, Doubleday, etc.) and received rejections from them all. Having no illusions about my work, I suggested he try his ‘B’ and ‘C’ list, but he didn’t want to do this, so we parted ways. I then found another agent, who promised me the sun, moon and stars, but I found out that her hard work consisted of listing the book on her website, with a banner saying ‘Open to offers’.Having dumped her, I decided to go solo.
I don't blame you at all! Would you ever consider e-publishing?
I have self-published 3 books, two of which are available as ebooks, with the third being prepared for e-publishing as we speak.Ebooks are fine, but I do prefer the feel of paper.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Samuel Johnson. He wrote, ‘No one but a blockhead ever wrote anything, except for money.’My inspiration for my fiction comes from my background in the shooting industry in the USA, and from my time as a dealer in dodgy antiques and militaria in London.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
In order to avoid possible lawsuits, I use place names as last names. The characters’ personalities are drawn from people I have known.
What is your writing routine?
I write when I feel in the mood.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I usually start with the ‘McGuffin’, as Alfred Hitchcock described it. This is the treasure, the secret plans, or whatever, that the good guy wants and has to fight the bad guys to get it. After that, I rough out a plan of where the story needs to go.
Do you have an editing process?
I usually edit after every 3 chapters. When the book’s completed, I hand it over to my editor in chief (my wife), who then makes further comments and suggestions.Generally speaking, I write once and edit at least half a dozen times.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
I’ve never written just for myself. I always wanted someone to read my work.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Write – even if it’s rubbish. Don’t sit in front of the screen waiting for inspiration.
What's advice could you give to a new writer?
First: You’re not a writer until you’ve actually written something, so stop mooning about and blogsturbating about how hard it is to be a writer. Forget the blog, because 99% of the people who see it won’t care. Instead, write something that people will want to read.
You do know that this interview is going up on a blog, right?! What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
Most: It’s an easy way to earn money.Least: Sometimes it’s a chore.
But I guess the money makes up for that. Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
Handgun shooting (in the USA), photography, archaeology, reading, drinking gin (Tanqueray) and tonic while the sun’s up, and Jameson Irish whiskey when it sets, avoiding all forms of hard work.
What types of things do you read?
I read history 1700 – 1945, biographies, and a little fiction.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
The Bible – it’s still in print – think of the royalties!
What are you working on at the moment?
Volume 3 of the John and Sally Pilgrim series, currently titled Pilgrim’s Traitor.
Do you have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook dedicated to your writing?
My website is www.tonywalkerbooks.com. This is based in the USA, so I guess I’ll have to start a UK-based site soon.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
You’re not an author until you’ve written something that’s been published (self, electronic or otherwise). Until then, you’re a writer.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
This is part of a chapter from my novel, Pilgrim's Banner.
Arizona - 1981
Sally Pilgrim woke up with a start, as she heard the unmistakable ‘slack-slack’ sound of a pump shotgun being racked outside her bedroom. In one swift movement, she rolled out of bed, grabbing for the Colt Diamondback .38 revolver on the nightstand. Taking cover behind the bed, she saw a tall, masked figure silhouetted in the doorway. Pointing the gun, she called out, “Freeze! I’ve got a gun! Get out, or I’ll shoot! Get the hell out of here!”
The figure paused for an instant, and then swung the shotgun’s barrel towards where she lay behind the bed. Sally fired two fast shots into the intruder’s chest, and then ducked back and rolled across the floor, appearing again from around the end of the bed. He was still on his feet, so she fired two more shots at him, and the man staggered back, and pulled off his mask, revealing the smiling face of her husband, John Pilgrim.
“That was good, really good. I liked the way you warned me before you fired.” He rubbed his chest, where the rubber training bullets had hit him. “Good hits, too.” He put down the shotgun. “I think you won that one.”
© Tony Walker
Thank you Tony.