Robert and Miranda Walker
I reviewed a pair of mysteries written by husband
and wife tandem, Robert W. Walker and Miranda
Phillips Walker. The writing styles were distinctly
different and so I thought I'd drop by their
place to see just how a couple who shares coffee
and toast every morning can have such contrasting
styles. Here's our conversation.
Myshelf: I've often heard that all kinds
of artists are quirky and can be temperamental.
What's it like with two writer's living under
the same roof?
Rob: Let me field this one, Rob says:
Writers are notorious for living inside their
heads much if not most of the time; when they
are "supposed to concern themselves with a meal,"
who has time? In fact, time has passed and there
is no chance now for a roast at 4 having been
cooked at 3:50 for an hour and fifteen. When
on vacation, you are even thinking like your
series character, wondering why not have him
or her do a stint here where you are vacationing?
Asking questions of the place from the POV of
your character. So yeah, a spouse often feels
neglected. So tensions are inevitable and no
story is worth anything if there is no tension
Miranda: Let me finish this one, Miranda
adds: But since we are both living in our heads
for the duration of our efforts to create good
fiction, no one holds it against the other;
we both understand where we go and why we are
there. We are quite patient with one another
when it comes to doing our work. The work is,
after all, more important than a pot roast.
I mean I could kill him at times but no... not
Myshelf: What are the biggest professional
challenges to a husband/wife writing duo?
Well frankly, so far, we have not collaborated,
perhaps because we do want to remain married.
Collaboration is not something Miranda is at
this time interested in; she wants to fly on
her own, and I can respect that. I gave her
some editing help on her first book, but it's
all her in The
Well Meaning Killer.
Miranda: As far as doing collaborative
book signings, now that has been a lot of fun.
We often sell the other's book, but we make
it a game to see which of us sells the most.
Doing husband and wife interviews like this
and articles has been great.
Myshelf: Do you critique one another's
Only after getting it down, after the rough
draft is completed. That's true of both of us.
But I will also ask questions Miranda of a medical
nature as I am working on a novel. Often it's
just the thing as Miranda is an ER Nurse and
she knows her stuff.
Miranda: I also pick Rob's brain for
police procedure and law enforcement questions
as he has done so many crime novels. In the
case of finding anything questionable in a scene,
sure we discuss these and resolve problems.
Myshelf: What writer's have inspired
Rob: I am a huge fan of the classics—all
of the classics and I teach literature so I
get to revisit them quite often. Mark Twain
and Shakespeare, however, are my favorites and
most inspiring. Both men understood human nature
Miranda: Like Rob, I've always loved
reading and really have too many favorites to
even begin to list them. Of course I loved The
Hobbit and Conan Doyle and Dickens. A writer
learns her craft by reading and studying the
styles of others, determining how they raise
passions and emotions. Of course, I cut my teeth
on Nancy Drew.
Myshelf: Do you have any contemporary
Rob: Dean R. Koontz, Stephen King, any
writer with the first name David.
Miranda: Well I do love Charlaine
Harris and John Sanford.
Myshelf: I know that you're active
on the conference circuit. Care to comment on
the value of writer's conferences.
Rob: Conferencing is excellent for
networking. Nothing like face to face with other
writers, being on hand at panel discussions,
demonstrations, law enforcement lectures, and
mixed with food and drink... are you kidding?
I love conferencing and pitching book ideas
to editors and agents on hand.
Miranda: Rob is right and what can
I add except to say my first conferences were
eye-opening and inspiring. You go home loaded
with inspiration to go to work on your next
project. Not to mention getting to meet some
of your favorite authors. David Morrell for
instance gave me so much advice.
Myshelf: Do you have any advice for
Rob: Write a mystery. Sit down and
just write a mystery as it is the fastest, easiest
way to learn how to plot a novel. Seek out a
college or university where a professional author
is teaching a creative writing class and take
the class. Finally, spend at least four years
just working on craft and reading how-to books
on craft and the publishing business.
let anyone convince you that you can't do this.
Listen instead to the positive voice inside
you, your own instincts. Go to as many conferences
as you can, and if you ever have the opportunity
to take a class from a professional writer,
take it. Of course, read good how to books like
On Writing and David Morrell's book that
demystified the process so well.
Myshelf: This is your space to say
whatever you'd like.
Rob: Writing and seeing your work
published is a great gift and accomplishment,
but the chief thrill a writer gets from his
work—other than making money with words—is
hearing from readers who loved the book. Nothing
more exciting in the world than to have that
kind of vindication for all the difficult labor
Miranda: Rob's so right. I get a huge
thrill out of someone say at the ER where I
work, having read the book, telling me they
were up all night unable to put it down. It
is a thrill like nothing else.
Now read Dennis's reviews of the Walkers' books:
On by Robert W. Walker
Well Meaning Killer by Miranda Phillips