Compelling. An adjective that means having a powerful and irresistible effect. Robert W. Walker completed his first novel in high school and it was good enough to get him into Northwestern University. He has since gone on to pen more than 40 books. What he has sought with each and every one is to make them compelling.
“I have stamped on my forehead the word compelling,” Walker says. “That is my watchword. Make every scene, every page compelling in one fashion or another. Some how to books call for “heat” on every page. I use the term compel and do so by triangulating all the “six” senses as you sift them through your main character and all characters with a point of view scene or chapter.”
Read on to learn more about what makes Walker and his books compelling.
Write City: Do people ever confuse you with Robert Waller (“Bridges of Madison County”)?
Robert: Unreasonably, yes! And Robert B. Parker. I will be doing a signing and some one will get all a dither and excited and shout, “You-You-You’re here in Sheboygan? I love your work, man!” Then they calm down and I’m ready to sign a book over and I hear from the same guy, “Oh, wait a minute . . . you’re not Robert Parker!” And sometimes I get that with Waller. How I can be confused with either is beyond me.
Write City: When I go to Amazon and type in Robert W. Walker into the book search engine, I get 169 hits. I know you aren’t the author of all of these (“Agricultural Change in South Asia,” for instance) but you are the author of a good number of them. Just how many books and short stories have you authored?
Robert: I have this academic doppelganger who is writing on all these academic subjects, titles that sound like dissertations, yeah. My own dissertation at Northwestern, I talked the prof into my doing a novel—a novel of Salem Witchcraft; about as academic as I get. I do have some forty or so titles on Amazon and thirteen E-books and one Amazon.com/short –a serialized novel called FleshWar (science fiction horror suspense thriller all rolled into one).
Write City: Do you have a personal or sentimental favorite out of the bunch?
Robert: Whoa, this the “Which of the babies do you love best question.” Difficult to cull out any one title and point to it as the cutest or the brightest, but I have to say that my most ambitious work—as yet unpublished—is the one I have spent decades on writing and rewriting. Try ten years of research and ten more of writing off and on, and I am still trying to get it right. Novel may have a curse on it. It’s the damn dissertation novel on Salem Witchcraft – the ultimate insider’s look at how we evolve to the point of hanging our neighbors for suspicions we hold. I am determined to make this thing work someday. Title is Bloodroot. As for the most precious that has seen publication, I have to say that the Ransom books, City for Ransom, Shadows in the White City, and City of the Absent, are closest to my heart as they feel like the books I was meant to write for art and love of the craft and my love of history and the crime novel all rolled into one trilogy. But then there’s Final Edge—my comeback book (returning from the edge, get it?). There was a time I was unable to write due to a whopping personal tsunami, and for a time I thought I’d never write again but FINAL EDGE brought me back. Now monetarily, The Instinct Series wins. Every child has its own talent.
Write City: How do you manage to write so prodigiously? Also, on a typical day, how much time do you spend writing and where do you do most of your writing?
Robert: Honestly, I get tearing on a story and it won’t leave me alone until I get it out of my head, so my initial job is to get it on paper. I do my first draft after setting aside all the thinking about it, the research if necessary, and the procrastination and inertia in a matter of three sometimes four months, and this while teaching.