Interview for Red Headed Book Lover
By Aimee Cook
Check out Steven G. Walker’s interview questions and answers with The Red Headed Book Lover.
1. Thank you for joining us at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio in a Slovak family. My mother never finished the eighth grade to help support her family and my dad did not finish high school because he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1942. I won’t go into detail, just say I didn’t have much of a child’s life between Grade 7 and graduation from high school.
I grew up shy and introverted. I made a vow to myself to live a happy life after I was emancipated.
I joined the Marine Corps and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was nice to be around real men who guided me and helped me flourish and grow into a young man.
I served for two decades and later went on to become a high school teacher, guidance counselor, and teacher evaluator, and head baseball coach. Along the way, I married my college sweetheart and the rest is history as they say….
2. Could you please tell us, readers, about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
Firstly, I would say there are not enough books out there about the 1940s and 1950s Private Eyes, so I decided to write a series about one. I guess it’s considered old school.
My father worked in a factory on Coit Rd. in Cleveland, Ohio. He would come home at midnight from his shift smelling of the factory floor grease and we would fry balcony sandwiches together, smeared with yellow mustard. We would turn on channel eight and he would introduce me to the gangster and detective movies of the 1940s and 1950s.
The likes of Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorrie, and Richard Widmark. Movies like “Casablanca”, “Where the Side Walk Ends”, the “Maltese Falcon”, “Double Indemnity”, and “To have and have Not”.
Tough, Private Eyes like Sam Spade, Michael Shayne, Charlie Chan, Mickey Spillane, and the Continental Ops.
I loved those beautiful movies and characters.
I miss my time with my dad.
I simply got tired of reading about the same detectives in modern writing about some guy cutting out eyes and hearts and leaving them as calling cards.
Far too much violence and not enough humor and character development.
3. What would your advice be to aspiring authors?
Wow, this is a tough one! I’m far from an expert but I have learned much in the last five years and I don’t want people to think I’m a know it all but here goes nothing.
Novel writing is like learning to play a musical instrument…it takes time and practice to play somewhat well and simply hundreds of hours practicing to become an expert. Writing is no different. Grammarly kept a record of my words I wrote and rewrote and it was well over one million, actually 1.2 million to achieve an 89,465-word novel.
It amazes me when I hear writers say they have a best seller in them but have not taken the time to learn their craft and just start writing. Would you have a person build your house without the knowledge to pound a nail or an architect who didn’t understand building codes and how to write up house plans?
How did I do it? I read over 400 books in my lifetime in just my genre. You must read what you want to write! I took my favorite authors and copied my favorite chapters word for word to get a feel on how to write a scene and chapter. Tough and boring to do that, but I was a Marine grunt. LOL.
- I attended writer’s conferences,
- I read twenty books on novel construction, dialogue, and plot construction.
- I joined professional groups in my genre. I searched the internet for writing gurus. I found them worthless because they gave you just enough information to buy their product which I didn’t do, same with writing podcasts which consisted of them talking about everything except serious writing.
- I searched for friends who would criticize my writing and I said thank you for making me a better writer. If you can’t accept criticism, you are in the wrong business.
- I edited my book 55 times, rewrote whole chapters, and changed scenes. I would look at a scene and say gosh I love it but it is wrong and I would smile and rip it out!
- For a novice like me…it costs money to self-publish. Maybe some people can do everything themselves and are extremely talented not me. I hear indie writers ask how can I do this for free or at little cost? Good luck!
- Budget at least $5,000.00 to self-publish.
- My cover cost $450.00
- Editing $1,000.00
- Formatting $150.00…
- ISBN’s (ten) $445.00…
- Professional organizations $150.00…
- professional books $300.00…
- developmental editing (this saved me) $1,800.00
- Audiobook narration…$450.00.
- This does not include money to market your book.
- Aspiring writers must understand this…you do not need college degrees to write a book…but you must have a passion to learn.
- If you lack the money to self-publish… write and learn your craft while you save money from one job…two jobs or three jobs. Anybody can write a novel but you have to have the guts to finish one.
- I laugh when I tell new writers with dreams… it’s not that hard to write a book! There are millions of books by millions of authors!
- The world is full of wishers and not enough doers. Most of all have fun writing and learning!
4. In your opinion what is the most important thing about a book?
Interesting question…I’ll answer it from my heart.
I like character-driven plots! Characters that I relate to who are searching for redemption because we are all fallen creatures in some capacity. Characters that possess no superman qualities or abilities, but struggle like me in life.
No magic bullets, that suddenly make their life sweet and nice.
Characters who know they are human above all else yet struggle with everything they possess to be good and not to spiral out of control and destroy everything in their path.
I like characters who chart their course in life based on not being popular but content in the knowledge they are living a good life.
Like a priest told me once… it’s not our job as Christians to leave the world a better place but leave the world a better Christian.
Being a good person entails making tough decisions in life that often leave you standing alone against the crowd.
5. What is your writing process like?
I write about fifteen hours a week…some days one- hour other days much more. No rhyme or reason. What fits my busy schedule.
I develop my concept and premise first.
I then use logical progression. In Catholic school, Sister Rose taught us logic which didn’t make logical sense to me.LOL. Since my novels are character-driven I use their human traits to dictate how they react to events.
This can only happen if you know and love your characters. (look up logic formulas if interested) Without going into logic formulas; it goes like this. (A) happens…logically several things may happen?
Pick one… after that happens several things could happen pick one that makes sense. Keep doing that and that will fill in your plot.
I edit each page as I go along and then continue to edit because the direction of my story changes as my characters react to various events they put themselves in.
This helps me develop my plot continuously.
I don’t know the ending. My characters develop my story within my concept and premise.
I don’t believe in writer’s block which gets a lot of writers mad at me. My opinion is if you know yourself… your story and characters will react in a way that makes you sad or happy!
6. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before writing a book?
A writer friend of mine said, “Write what you know about and have a passion for
.” I know the Marine Corp inside and out because I was a Marine and I l loved the history of WW ll and their exploits. My dad fought in the toughest battles of WW ll and he told me about his time in service.
I researched early WW ll history and found a gem I thought would lead to a great book. Roosevelt decided to burn all the money in Hawaii so the Japanese could not get our money to finance their fight against us if Guadalcanal fell and replace it with money with Hawaii written across the back of each bill. Worthless to the Japanese if they invaded the islands.
I spent about two more hours researching the Cosa Nostra in the 1930sand 1940s.
My new novel…Gunny Mac Private Detective Trouble in Cleveland was a lot of fun.
Once again, I used the information I knew. I grew up in Cleveland, I know the Catholic Church…I know the Polish and Slovenian cultures.
I’m having a blast. Also, don’t forget my love of the hard-boiled noir private eye genre of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, and Dashiell Hammett!
7. Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you write when you feel inspired?
Good question. Being inspired is like getting motivated. I don’t believe in those two words.
Inspiration and motivation are temporary, to say the least. That is why you must have a passion to be a writer!
Because I have a passion to write I’m inspired and motivated every day. I can’t wait to get up and write.
If I had to wait to get inspired or motivated it would be a cold day in hell before I wrote anything! Writing is so much a part of me I feel lost without working at my craft. Like I’m not doing what God intended me to do.
It’s similar as I felt when I was a Marine on active duty…I couldn’t wait to wear my uniform with pride and do my job.
8. Do you read much and if so, who are your favorite authors?
Yes, I read about four books a month. Reading is one of the most pleasurable of pastimes
I have in my life. Some of my favorite authors: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, Stephen Hunter, Lee Child, Nelson Demille, Preston &Child, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Leon Uris, Michael Connelly just to name a few.
9. Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
“Gunny Mac Private Detective Trouble in Cleveland”, will in out in three months.
I have half-finished a novel, “Between Heaven and Hell”, about the drug war and my time in an intelligence agency.
I’m also working on a novel about the baseball legend Ty Cobb.