Monday, August 26, 2013

A Little History About Me and Mystery - Robert Walker - Biggest Aha Moments in Writing

    We learn so many small and large, great and greater truths about our writing in the doing of it and from great editors. I know I have learned better use of the word HAD for instance, and early on in high school, the Well High newspaper editor sat me down and opened a grammar text on four or five pages of Active Voice vs. Passive Voice -- and that was a huge aha! moment for yours truly.

     But the biggest aha I got was from writing my first novel during my senior year Daniel and the Wrongway Railway. I could not sell it; it was slow, drab, and then while shopping it around, an editor sent a rejection back with a long list of considerations but tantamount was a question: "Where is the mystery here? The Underground Railroad must have been the biggest mystery to stump people in those times, so?  A light bulb blew out.

     A titanic AHA moment hit me. The realization was that a good piece of writing needs an element of mystery, suspense, intrigue and I was overlooking the Underground Railroad as the biggest mystery of its day....right in front of my nose. Until I began thinking of the U.R. as a mystery, the book was flat. On rewrite with mystery element lodge in brain, it sold immediately after I made that connection. Viola!

     Mystery! This is what is meant by editors when they say they want COMMERCIAL fiction. The idea of a story being commercial and it not being a dirty word like sellout. That has kept me in good stead ever since, publishing multiple books each year since 1979.

Award-winning author and graduate of Northwestern University, ROBERT W. WALKER created his highly acclaimed INSTINCT and EDGE SERIES between 1982 and 2005. Rob since then has penned his award-winning historical series featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom with CITY FOR RANSOM (2006), SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY (2007), and CITY OF THE ABSENT (2008), and most recently placed Ransom on board the Titanic in a hyrid historical/science fiction epic entitled Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. The original Ransom trilogy straddles the Chicago World’s Fair circa 1893, and has had enthusiastic reviews from Chicago historians and the Chicago Tribune, which likened “the witticism to Mark Twain, the social consciousness to Dickens, and the ghoulish atmosphere to Poe!”  Rob has since published DEAD ON, a PI’s tale of revenge as a reason to live—a noir set in modern day Atlanta,  followed more recently by Bismarck 2013, an historical horror title, The Edge of Instinct, the 12th Instinct Series, and a short story collection entitled Party of Eight – the one that got away.  Rob’s historical suspense CHILDREN of SALEM, while an historical romance and suspense novel exposes the evil in mankind via the politics of witchcraft in grim 1692 New England, which one professional editor reviewed as:  A title that only Robert Walker could make this work—romance amid the infamous witch trials. Robert currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia with his wife, children, pets, all somehow normal. For more on Rob’s published works, you can see his website here or check Harper Collins and AmazonHe maintains a presence on Facebook and Twitter as well.

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