Friday, March 11, 2011
FEATURED AUTHOR: Keith Thomas Walker
Keith Thomas Walker is a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He enjoys reading, poetry, and music of all genres. Keith currently works in administration at one of the city’s largest hospitals. He lives in Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and two children. Keith is the author of Fixin’ Tyrone, How to Kill Your Husband, A Good Dude, Riding the Corporate Ladder, and The Finley Sisters Oath of Romance. Visit him at http://www.keithwalkerbooks.com/.
How did you start out your writing career?
My writing career officially started with my first published novel, Fixin’ Tyrone, in November 2009. But unofficially it started decades before that. I was always a creative student, from grade school through college. I published my first poem when I was in high school, and I began winning awards for short stories and essays during that time. I wrote my first book in 1996. That was a rough, street novel called Colored Rags. Try as I might, I couldn’t find a publisher interested in that book. I tried for two years, and then I think I became depressed with writing, and I didn’t write anything else for more than a decade.
I got pulled back into writing in 2006. The first thing I did was re-write Colored Rags. But, once again I couldn’t generate much interest. A friend suggested I change the whole genre and style of my stories, and I gave it a shot. I wrote Fixin’ Tyrone in 2008. A few publishers were interested, but I didn’t want to make the same mistakes I made in college. I knew that the best way to increase my changes of getting published was to produce more work, so I wrote nine books in the next two years. The outcome has been very positive.
What did you learn while writing this book?
While writing my most recent book, Riding the Corporate Ladder, I learned that sex may get the books off the shelves, but it’s the story that keeps the readers coming back to you. I believe that there’s constant competition in the romance genre. Some authors feel the need to up the ante, so to speak, to produce something that’s wilder and crazier than the current bestsellers. In the process, the actual story suffers in some cases. That said, Riding the Corporate Ladder is the sexiest book I’ve ever written, but main and side-stories are just as appealing.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
My number one goal with any book is to entertain. But while being entertained, I want the reader think about certain things. I always have a message. Sometimes the message is subtle, like the antics of a random crackhead character. Sometimes the message is more in your face, like a main character suffering an overdose. My books would suffer if I got on the soap box about things I believe in, but it’s not hard to hit your reader with a subliminal. Like if the main character uses a condom. I don’t have to say that the AIDS rate among minorities is too damned high. I simply introduce a condom to the scene. With any of my books, my goal is to challenge the reader to think about things.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
Lol. Now that you mention it, one of the characters in Riding the Corporate Ladder is the random crackhead I was just talking about. He reminds me of some folks I used to know.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
The biggest… Hmm. To be honest, all of my “surprises” were negative, so I’ll tell you about the most exciting things I experienced. Like when I saw my book on the shelf at Walmart. That was one of the best days of my life. Also when I had my first book signing at Barnes & Nobles. The response was great. I couldn’t have been happier that day.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I love writing the most, and I guess you could say I hate editing. I don’t really hate it, but I want to be as productive as possible, and there’s no way around this fact: If I’m editing a book, I’m not writing a new book. Sometimes my publisher will ask me to revise an upcoming novel, but at the time I’ll be deeply enthralled in a new book I’m working on. It’s hard for me to stop working on my current project. But if you want to be a “real” writer, there’s no way around it.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I wish I’d known that it’s okay to switch my style to fit the changing needs of the industry. I got bogged down with the failure of the first book I wrote. It didn’t immediately occur to me that I could just write another book. I wish I was better at marketing and promoting myself in the beginning – actually I still need help with that now. I wish I had known that everyone who reaches out to help me does not have my best interests in mind. Some do, but some do not.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Don’t let the rejection letters get you down. Do get as much feedback as possible when you write a book. Maybe you know ten to twenty people who like to read. Give them copies of your book and pay attention to the critiques you receive. If you don’t know that many readers, join a book club or a writer’s guild and try to introduce your book to these new faces. Feedback from as many sources as possible is very important, especially for a new writer.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
I think I would like to be Lestat from Interview With a Vampire. I know Louis tried to make the vampire life sound horrible, but who wouldn’t want to be an immortal, supernatural being? Sure I’d be a monster, but I could write for centuries upon centuries. Lol.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m not writing, I love to read. I also like to attend open mic and poetry slam events. Poetry is my first love. I still take the stage every now and then. Even if I don’t perform, I enjoy watching others. There’s a lot of talent in the poetry community. I love the jazz atmosphere, the artsy women, well-spoken brothers. It’s all good. My other hobby is video gaming. Each year I tell myself I’m getting too old for this, but the games keep getting better! I don’t wanna grow up.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I interact with my readers in a variety of ways. The main thing I do is respond to everyone who sends me a message. It can be time consuming, but I figure if they took the time to read my book and look me up so they can tell me what they thought about it, the least I could do is respond. Plus I really am grateful for every one of my readers. I would feel bad if I didn’t acknowledge them whenever possible. Also I participate whenever I’m asked to be part of a discussion for one of my books. And I have a lot of communication with my readers on facebook.
Our theme for this month is Resources On The Net. What are your favorite resources on the net?
My favorite resources are http://www.aalbc.com/, http://www.theubs.com/, www.blackbooksdirect.com, http://www.amazon.com/, http://www.rawsistaz.com/, http://www.romanceincolor.com/, http://www.fwsoul.com/ and http://www.fwweekly.com/.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
I know that you can do anything you set your mind to. My dad taught me that. I know that no matter how low you sink in life, you can always turn it around. Unfortunately, I had to learn that from personal experience. I know that hope springs eternal in the human breast.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
My next book is The Finley Sisters Oath of Romance. This may be the best story about sisterhood since Waiting to Exhale. Here is the back cover blurb:
Ten years ago, Mona, Rene and Dawn were the closest and most popular friends at Finley High School. Everyone knew they would be kindred spirits forever, but after graduation the real world lured them in three different directions, and the trio has little contact until their high school reunion. The girls, now women, are instantly inseparable again, but broken promises linger like ghosts from the past. An attempt to recapture the hope and innocence of their youth leads the ladies down a road of discovery that is sometimes hilarious, sometimes sensual, other times dark and painful. And what they thought was their simplest vow, to live love to the fullest, is no easy task for the Finley sisters.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
To learn more about me, you can visit my website keithwalkerbooks.com. My website contains information about my upcoming books as well as excerpts from my novels. My website is also a good place to find links to my facebook account and YouTube channel. You can send an email to email@example.com.
Riding the Corporate Ladder
Deena Newman is sassy, single, and arguably the sexiest attorney at a prestigious law firm. She’s highly competent and valued, but most of her success has come by way of bedrooms rather than boardrooms. When the position of a lifetime comes available, Deena slips into her stilettos for the ultimate seduction, but will this last rung on the corporate ladder secure her future or cost her everything she’s worked for? Sometimes passion and power carry a price, and dreams turn into nightmares.
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