Interview & Giveaway: Wendy Walker

Wend Walker was a late find for me this year, but her novel All is Not Forgotten is one of the most memorable I have read in a long time and to top it off it was her debut to the thriller genre is simple outstanding. Please Welcome to Blood Rose Books Today:
 

Wendy Walker

 

From Chicken Soup for the Soul to women’s fiction to psychological thriller, how did you get from point A to point B? Why the psychological thriller genre?
I have been on a very long journey as a writer! My first attempt at a novel was actually a legal thriller. That one took me six years to write and revise because I was having my babies! But it eventually got me an agent and from there, I started writing women’s fiction because I became fascinated with suburban culture and the issues that were all around me as a stay-home mother. I wrote two novels in this genre, and then was approached by Chicken Soup for The Soul to edit an edition for their series. I went on to edit two more books for them and it was a great way to make some money as a writer and hone my editing and writing skills. 

However, I was a single mom by then, needing to forge a career for myself that would sustain me in the future, so I went back to practicing law. I also wrote two screenplays and another women’s fiction novel while I was practicing law again. After five years, I found a new agent who gave me the life-changing advice to try my hand at a psychological thriller. She thought it was something that would fit with my skill set and she was right! I took about two months off from my fledgling solo law practice and wrote All Is Not Forgotten. That novel enabled me to write full time – after seventeen years since I wrote my first page.

You recently released your second psychological thriller novel, Emma in the Night, what did you learn from about yourself and writing between the two novels?
There wasn’t much time in between, but I did learn quite a lot! With the help of my agent and editor, I was able to glean what readers liked about my writing and work and what could be better. Writing Emma In The Night took a lot longer than All Is Not Forgotten because I was growing as a writer and trying to be better with each draft. Luckily, I had new access to professionals to advise me in the psychological areas of narcissism and family dynamics, and also FBI forensics. I hope I can get better with each novel. That is surely the goal as an author – and every professional, really. 

How do you believe your now two books (All is not Forgotten & Emma in the Night) stand out from the rest of the novels in this genre?
I think I bring a focus on real world psychological issues and illnesses because of my background as a family law attorney. The training I received there, and the experiences with families in crisis, gave me enough knowledge to know what might make an interesting plot. From there, I do a lot of research and try to include very specific and realistic aspects to the characters who are impacted by the psychological
issues at the core of each novel. Readers seem to be enjoying this aspect of my work so I hope to continue along this path and carve out a niche in a genre that includes some incredibly talented authors.

If there was one author you could co-write a novel with (they can be alive or dead) who would you choose and why?
That’s a tough question! I adore Jane Austen. I don’t know what kind of book we would write together, but she had the ability to capture the essence of both people and the cultures that shaped and confined them and I find that fascinating. Most of my work has elements of the cultural constraints on the characters, if only as a backdrop to the plot. By linking people to their environment, Austen was able to help the reader understand their motives, even if they were nefarious. No character was all good or all bad – and they were always relatable. I think that every novel has to have that element at its core. If the reader doesn’t care about the characters, not even the most thrilling plot will keep them engaged.

What do you think would be the hardest or most challenging genre to write a novel in and why?
For me, an abstract literary novel would be a challenge. I like to write in first person or close third person and focus on the inner thoughts of each character. Being inside a person’s head is where I am most comfortable. If you asked me to describe a physical landscape in a unique way, I would probably run in the opposite direction! That is not where my interests lie. My strongest skills are in my ability to weave intricate plots (from being an attorney) and also to tie together the psychology behind characters and motivations. The latter skill comes from my work in family law, but also a lifelong fascination with people and psychology. 

I personally love the point of view you decided to have in All is not Forgotten, why did you decide to have the story told solely from psychiatrist Dr. Alan Forrester point of view?
I had to have a narrator who would be privy to everyone else’s secrets and emotions. The psychiatrist was the perfect solution. From there, I decided to use the actual words of the other characters in italics, rather than leaving the entire book in the voice of the narrator. This tool enabled me to give a voice to each character, but to allow the narrator to drive the plot. Once I got inside Dr. Forrester’s head, it was incredibly easy to write the novel. I knew what each chapter had to contain and reveal, and I knew exactly how my narrator would reveal it. I doubt I will ever find as much ease writing a novel as I did with this one. It was a unique coming together of plot and voice.

How much research did you do in regards to not only PTSD and the medical science around the possibility of a drug to make someone forget a memory but all the psychiatric techniques that Alan uses on Jenny?
I did a lot of research! I read everything I could find on line – which was extensive. I started with articles intended for the general public, and then I went into the scientific articles written for that community. I read blogs and other chat sites for people suffering from PTSD, and also survivors of sexual assault. From there, I found a scientist working on memory experimentation and a therapist who has experience with trauma treatment. I had every passage of the manuscript read and vetted by an appropriate professional. I wanted to get it right!

This book had me questioning myself several times while reading your book that given the same information that the characters had would I make the same or different decision. So I have to think that while writing this book you also asked yourself the same questions. Therefore, if you could help a loved one forget a horrible moment in their life would you?
Yes – that is the question at the heart of the book and what I wanted readers to ponder. I don’t think I would ever choose to erase a factual memory, for me or a loved one. There is just not enough research on how this impacts our emotional memory. However, there are amazing treatments which target emotional memory, altering them to be less powerful, and I would definitely seek out that type of treatment for myself or a loved one.

Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share? Maybe some up dated information about Reese Witherspoon’s interest in All is not Forgotten :) as well as some additional information about Emma in the Night.
There are many updates! The movie for All Is Not Forgotten continues to move forward. Reese Witherspoon’s production company is still attached and involved and actively pursuing the production of the film. Emma In The Night is out in the world and doing great. We are pursuing interests in Hollywood for that novel as well. I am working on my third novel and hope to have that out next summer. I have many appearances scheduled for the fall and they are all listed on my website at wendywalkerbooks.com.

What is one book (other than one of your own) that you think should be a must read for everyone?
Not to dodge the question, but I’m not a fan of must reads. I think that books and genres are very personal. For me, Mystic River is one of the best suspense novels I have ever read. It is incredibly deep psychologically and does an amazing job of tracing childhood trauma to adulthood. I loved the Kite Runner for the same reason. Those are just a couple of my favorites. If I had to choose just one book for everyone to read, it would have to be The Lord of the Flies. That novel raises questions about human nature in a way that is brilliant and relatable, and those questions are ones that can help us understand ourselves, others and the world at large. 

 

I want to thank Wendy once again for taking the time to answer these questions especially since I was asking right before this event was to start. Wendy it truly an author to watch out for and I cannot wait to read Emma in the Night (I have it on my Kindle already). Wendy has very nicely supplied a giveaway to go with her interview, so see the rafflecopter link below to enter :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway