Fantasy, mystery, thrillers, horror, historical. . .I write it all, and review it too!

Feb 17, 2011

Interview with A.J. Walker, author of "Roots Run Deep"

I've recently been interviewed on Double Dragon Publishing's blog. The kind folks at my publishing house have agreed to let me report that interview here. So read on and get to know a little bit more about me!

A.J. Walker is an archeologist and a medievalist who manages to write engaging fiction as well.  And I say engaging because, quite frankly, the idea of a goblin female falling in love with a male human automatically perks my attention.  I personally have Roots Run Deep in my To-Be Read pile based on that compelling conflict alone.  At present, A.J. Walker is busy at work on the sequel to Roots, but he took the time to answer a few of my questions.

I see by your Author’s Den page that you are an archeologist and such.   How long have you been writing fiction?
I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid. Most of my tales are fantasy, but I’ve also dabbled in science fiction, westerns, and historical fiction set in ancient times. I’ve always been interested in the past and you can see that in my writing. I tend to use a lot of historical cultures and artistic styles in my created worlds. Nobody was really surprised when I ended up becoming an archaeologist. My specialty is the Middle Ages in Northern Europe, a fascinating period that we don’t know as well as most people think.

Who are your three favorite authors?  Can you see their influences in your writing?
I love Tolkien for his intricate world building based on Earth mythology and history. He was an Oxford professor of Old English so he brought a deep knowledge to his craft. While I don’t write like Tolkien, I do try to imitate his level of research. I also love Robert Silverberg, who has been at it for decades. He’s written science fiction (some of the best), fantasy, erotica, thrillers, nonfiction, and more. While his first objective is to entertain, he also puts real-world issues and philosophy into his work, something I also try to do. I also like Bukowski for showing the seamier side of life. You see that in my fantasy. No beautiful elves in fairy tale castles for me!

Tell us a little about Roots Run Deep.
Kip Itxaron is a small-time gambler and mediocre sorceress living on the Goblinkin Reservation. Barred by the ruling humans from most jobs, the goblinkin eke out a hard living on the worst land in the kingdom. But when the human king Roderick is deposed and Kip unwittingly saves him, the two join forces to forge a better world.
Kip has to follow religious visions despite having lost her faith, unite her squabbling people, find the fabled Lost Tribe of Goblinkin, overcome her fear of battle, and somehow be a leader to a people who have never had one.
But that’s nothing compared with the growing affection she feels for someone who reminds her of every human she’s ever hated. Not to mention that when Roderick was in power he treated her people just as badly as the rest of them. Kip can see he’s changed, but has he changed enough? Can she change enough?

Every author has a different way that they approach writing; some have to listen to music, some have to have perfect quiet.  What are some of the habits you have grown into in order to get words on the page?
I like listening to music while I write, but it can’t be in a language I understand otherwise I get distracted by the words. If it’s a language I can sort of understand, like Latin, then it’s even more distracting because I end up trying to figure out the lyrics! I tend to go for classical or traditional music, which make a nice background without requiring any of my attention. I need to write alone for the same reasons. Other than that I have no writing habits. I have to slip fiction writing in between work and office hours, so I tend to write at night or on the weekends.

A lot of people think that they can write a novel, even say that they want to some day, but don’t factor in just how much time and work it takes to get one made.  About how long does it take you to write a book? (Start to finish)
It really depends on the book. Generally it’s about a year from the idea to a coherent, relatively polished second draft. After that there’s a lot of tinkering to do. Yes, if you want to write a novel you’re in it for the long haul!

Are you an Outliner or do you write as the scenes come to you?
A bit of both. I always know the general story arc before I start. I know how it’s going to start and end, but I often don’t know how the characters get from A to B until I work on it. They tend to take me on some interesting tangents. Plus some characters become more prominent that I planned, like Lord Wolsey in Roots Run Deep. He’s an annoying prima donna, but he gets things done and ended up influencing the plot far more than I anticipated!

Writing can be a solitary and oftentimes discouraging task, what do you do when you fall into a “slump” and get frustrated with your own work?
I don’t really. Because I have a demanding career I treasure the time I get to write. I think day jobs are good for writers, as long as they leave you with enough energy to create!

Who is the favorite character you’ve ever written? (No holds barred, if you wrote a character in high school that was you’re favorite that counts too.)
Kip Itxaron in Roots Run Deep. She’s my first female protagonist in a novel and I like how she turned out. She’s feminine, but because goblinkin culture is matriarchal she’s got a leader’s mentality. While goblin females are in charge, the dimwitted males of the species, the hobgoblins, are much bigger and are expected to be the warriors. Despite this Kip ends up being a warrior herself. Her dogged struggle to maintain her own true self while having to develop in order to change the world is the trait I most admire about her.

What do you love about writing?
The freedom it gives me to live in other worlds, other times. I get a fair amount of this in archaeology as well. With my fiction, I get to call the shots.

What do you hate about writing?
The hustling to get published. Like many writers, I just want to write. The business end of sending out queries and writing cover letters is a necessary evil, but that doesn’t make me like it!

You can learn more about A.J. Walker on Author’s Den.  Just follow the link below!
And if you’d like to purchase a copy of Roots Run Deep, just click on the link to Double Dragon and snag one.

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