Grandpa Hank’s Writer Interview – Ron Walters (Part II)

Posted by on Feb 3, 2014 in Writer Interviews | 1 comment

Grandpa Hank’s Writer Interview – Ron Walters (Part II)

When last we left Ron, he was making metaphors about poop. What can he possibly do for an encore?

GRANDPA HANK: Tell us a little about your favorite project.

RON WALTERS: My favorite project changes depending on what I get around to starting and actually finishing. I’ll always love my first book, even though it’s been indefinitely tucked away. I think the idea is great—dude’s girlfriend tries to sacrifice him to a demon, she botches the summoning ceremony, he gets stuck with the demon—but it needs a fairly extensive structural overhaul.

So, at the moment, my favorite project is the young adult novel I just finished writing. It’s called The Watchmaker. I’m getting it ready to enter into the Amazon Breakthrough Novelist Contest. The first paragraph of my pitch-in-progress currently reads:

“Pocket watches aren’t supposed to electrocute you. They aren’t supposed to dump someone else’s war-torn memories into your brain, either. Unfortunately for 17-year-old Aaron Taylor, he’s got his hands on the one watch that does both.”

It’s set in Prague, and is full of spies, crazy scientists, a bit of teen angst, and loads of other awesome stuff including chase scenes and massive explosions. I think people will love it. That said, it was a giant pain in the ass to write. I started it last spring, gave up over the summer, then picked it back up because of writer’s guilt (which is far, far worse than Catholic guilt ever was) and actually finished it. This is another hard rule to follow, especially for novice writers such as myself: Finish what you start.

GH: What is your definition of success as a writer? Have you achieved it? And if you haven’t, how will you know when you do?

In a nutshell: I want to be able to walk into a bookstore and see a book I wrote sitting on one of the shelves.

For the time being, finally getting a short story published has been pretty awesome. It’s called “Glitch,” and is up at Devilfish Review. (It’s also getting reprinted at Hogglepot in February.)

Editor’s note: If you didn’t get a chance to read it in the previous blog, check out “Glitch” here.

I will say that, with everything I write, I see my skills as a writer growing. I personally think I’m good enough now to be a safe bet for any publisher, but even if I’d happen to land a book deal, it doesn’t mean I’d stop evolving and bettering myself as a writer.

GH: How did you feel when you found out that your story was going to be published at Devilfish? What were your immediate thoughts?
 
RW: I honestly wasn’t expecting to see “We love your story and want to publish it.” I’d already run up several rejections, and was expecting the usual “Thanks for submitting your story, but sadly, we’re going to have to pass.” Occasionally an editor would add something like, “We think you’re a great writer, and your story is interesting, but it just didn’t fit our thematic needs.” You know, the writing equivalent of, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
 
The thing is, I knew it was a good story. I know that sounds cocky, but any writer worth their salt knows whether what they’re working on is good or bad. Yes, there’s a certain amount of arrogance involved—I for one believe I’m a better writer than loads of published authors—but that’s mostly just a way of combating the doubt. Because for as much arrogance as writers possess, I’m almost positive we require a nearly equal amount of self-doubt. I swear that most writers are moderately bipolar. One minute you’ll be like, “This is the most amazing thing every put to paper,” and the next you’ll be all, “Oh my god, this is so bad it’s going to make people burn all their books and never want to read anything ever again.” But the more you write, the more you learn to recognize what’s working and what isn’t. And I knew that “Glitch” worked. I just needed to find an editor who agreed with me.
 
Once I got over the initial shock, I couldn’t stop grinning. I reread the email from Devilfish probably twenty times that morning. I signed the contract, and then I got to do something I’d never done before – send out withdrawal notices to the other journals where I’d already submitted the story.
 
The extra awesome thing (and I swear that I’ll stop babbling, but come on—FIRST PUBLISHED SHORT STORY!) is that one of the journals from which I’d withdrawn my story wrote me back to ask if they could reprint it. Seeing that email was nearly as great a feeling as when I saw the email from Devilfish accepting my story the first time.
 
Okay, I’m done. Next question.
 
GH: Has living outside the United States for so long influenced your writing?

RW: I’ve lived in Germany for eleven years now. I’ve definitely picked up a more worldly perspective since moving here, but I am still very much an American writer. I’d say that moving overseas has influenced my writing to the extent that I’ve met people from other countries and been places I might never have visited, all of which gets stored somewhere in my brain. For example, The Watchmaker is set in Prague. I never would have even attempted to pull off the setting or historical connections if I hadn’t been there several times.

GH: Mini-story time. Finish this sentence and add on however you feel. “How did all this blood end up in the…..”

RW: “How did all this blood end up in the shampoo bottle?”

“Oh, that’s where I put it. Sorry, it’s been a really long day. Here, let me have it.”

I held onto the oversized bottle. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Leonard. Hand it over.”

“Right, because my question is totally off base.”

Sarah sighed. “What else was I supposed to do with it?”

“Oh, I don’t know. The fridge comes to mind. Blood isn’t exactly shelf-stable.”

Sarah shook her head. “Don’t be such a worrywart. It’s only a few hours old. And besides, it’s not like you’re drinking it or anything.”

I turned the bottle upside down and watched the blood ooze along the inside. “It looks different than last time. Where’d you get it anyway?”

“Sea turtle.”

“What? Jesus, Sarah, those things are endangered! Are you trying to get us arre—”

“Fuckin’ a. Calm down, Leonard. I didn’t drain a sea turtle.”

“Thank god.” I narrowed my eyes. “So where did you get it?”

She nodded toward the moonlit backyard. “You know that pelican that’s always hanging out on the dock?”

My eyes widened as I stared into the darkness. “You killed Mr. Humperdink?”

“He had it coming.”

“Poor guy.” I hefted the bottle. “Pelicans have this much blood in them?”

“Apparently so.” She flapped her hand. “Gimme.”

“Can’t I do it this time?” I said, passing the bottle to her.

“You know Edgar doesn’t like it when someone else draws the sigils.”

“Fine.”

“You ready?”

I nodded, taking a deep breath as I tried to center myself. The conversion was much less painful when I wasn’t anxious.

“Alright,” Sarah said, squirting a splodge of blood into the palm of her hand. “Now take off your clothes.”

END OF INTERVIEW

Thanks to Ron for his time and for proving that you can indeed give detailed, thoughtful answers in the space your kids leave you between tantrums.

photo credit: szeke via photopin cc

One Comment

  1. Ummm … and you’re just going to leave the story hanging there???? I sense another short story in the works. :)

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