Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guest Interview with Rob and Miranda Walker


Robert W. Walker and wife Miranda Phillips Walker are here today to answer some burning questions, such as how they’ve managed to kill off only fictional characters with two crime novelists under one roof. Rob’s latest novel is DEAD ON published by Five Star Books, and Miranda’s debut novel is THE WELL MEANING KILLER from Krill Press.


Mary: In various interviews on the web, both of you have recommended that writers do not quit the day job. Is there a story behind this recommendation?

Miranda: As an ER nurse, I get a lot of my most exciting and frightful scenes on the job! Still, if I had my druthers, I’d happily be writing full-time and retire from that arena as it is extremely taxing, despite how good one is at saving a life -- and I can safely say I have saved quite a few, including a neighbor late one night. However, writing does not offer benefits or a steady income, to say the least.

Rob: As a professor of English one barely gets by in this economy, but at least it is a known, a given to see the paycheck at the end of the month, whereas writing has enormous ups and downs monetarily as well as emotionally. Each book is harder and harder to sell in this tough market. You can go two and even three years between contracts even if you have a track record. There are the exceptions, those who are struck by the Oprah or Eastwood lightning or similar good luck, but less than one percent of all authors in this country can support a family on earnings from writing, a sad reality. Now if President Obama were to tell folks he is reading my SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY, then yeah, I’d have won the lottery.

Mary: You two are very active in promoting your books. What are some of the toughest lessons you’ve learned about the “art” of self-promotion.

Miranda: You have to throw all caution and shyness out the window; perhaps ladylike-ness, too. You want to be yourself, but you also have to find a comfortable sales person lurking within. Sitting behind a desk and failing to make eye contact won’t cut it at a signing, and figuratively doing the same online won’t either. At the same time, I’m trying not to sound arrogant or self-important as I promote myself. I am anything but that!

Rob: Oh, I have to stop “tossing” books into people’s baskets, especially those folks in wheelchairs.:) But darn, I just know they will love the book and not regret “discovering” it for themselves. I kid with people online and in person, and the lesson I have learned in this business is that you don’t sell the book, you sell yourself. If folks like you, they will open your book and read it, hopefully after purchasing it.

Mary: What is your favorite writing-related subject on which to give advice?

Miranda: That if I can do it, anyone can. It’s a struggle, not easy, and made harder often by your circumstances--I have four children, and I also have to contend with Rob! But I did it--I got my novel written, shopped around, educated myself on the markets, and found a publisher. I now hold my book in my hand with the hope that others will be entertained by it. It requires a great deal of research and education about the business.

Rob: Craft matters, working on elements of style and finding one’s voice that perfectly fits the story at hand. I also push the fact every young writer ought to write a mystery as it is the fastest surest way to learn plotting for any type of novel. Finally, how to write one’s own pitch and or back-flap copy or the shortest most important story you will ever write, the story about your story and how it is effectively done. This becomes a useful tool in all marketing endeavor for the book.

Mary: List three of your favorite writing self-help books.

Miranda: Rob‘s recently published DEAD ON WRITING, a Kindle book that I read in rough draft. David Morrell‘s excellent book on the subject. Tom Sawyer‘s great book on writing.

Rob: Chris Roerden’s book, DON'T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY and her DON'T SABOTAGE YOUR SUBMISSION; J.A. Konrath’s free book, A NEWBIE'S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING; Robin Carr’s TIPS FOR WRITING POPULAR FICTION; Dean R. Koontz’ WRITING POPULAR FICTION, and Jerome Stern’s MAKING SHAPELY FICTION. Oops! I went over three.

Mary: That's okay, Rob. More can sometimes be better. :)

I hope you can stop by this blog site in two days when Rob and Miranda will return to tell us more about their adventures as a literary couple. Untill then, happy writing!

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7 comments:

  1. Hi, Rob and Miranda:

    Nice interview! Congratulations and happy sales! (-:

    Pat Browning

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  2. Great interview, Mary! I would never have guessed at some of the wrinkles these two authors have ironed out...

    Miranda, I worked in the Psych ER for years, and completely agree. Burn out city, but inspiring, and when you help someone...there's nothing like it in fiction or fact.

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  3. The salesmanship part sometimes is hard. Even on a tired day, you need to sound perky. And know where the bathroom is when they ask.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  4. Good interview. A question we get all the time is "How do you write together?" Ford answers, "I live in the basement and we e-mail our work back and forth."

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  5. Sorry, I forgot to sign it.
    Nash Black

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  6. Thanks for sharing this Mary, and thank you Rob and Miranda. It's nice to hear encouraging words because this really can be quite the discouraging business! This was like listening to shop talk with friends.

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