Interview with J Walker

What's the story behind your latest book?
The Baddest Kid in Sixth Grade tells the story of Nick Pearson's first day of middle school. While he's a nice kid with good intentions, his troublemaker brothers' reputation precedes him and causes teachers to see him as just another Pearson boy. Nick tries to distance himself from Dan and Rob but throughout the first day of school three mishaps land him in the spotlight. He is now the most popular kid among his peers and feared by the staff, everyone except mean old Principal Reese. Reese, who has unfinished business with the Pearson boys, is determined to show the entire school that he will not tolerate negative behavior from anyone. By the end of the school day, Nick is left with the decision to tell the truth and lose his newfound friends or maintain the lie and remain the baddest kid in sixth grade.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I decided to self-publish The Baddest Kid in Sixth Grade because mainstream literary agents and publishing housing typically publish children's books that only entertain, as opposed to educate, young readers. The Baddest Kid in Sixth Grade does both.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is having a small piece of an idea and then seeing it grow through words.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on the sequel to The Baddest Kid in Sixth Grade and several short stories that will be featured on my website.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ralph Ellison, Paulo Coelho, and Ernest Hemingway are some of my favorite authors.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Knowing that I have a new story to share or another piece to add to a story that's already forming.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love food. One of my greatest pleasures is trying new restaurants or things to eat.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No, sadly I don't remember what it was about. But I do remember writing it in the 6th grade. The teacher gave us an assignment to use five spelling words in five sentences. I used all 20 words to write a story and received extra credit.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes, the first story that I remember reading on my own was Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema. After reading it I felt as if I had traveled to Africa. The illustrations were bright and colorful and I loved it. I have read it many times since then.
How do you approach cover design?
I worked with an amazing illustrator named Jazmine Braza. We talked about what I envisioned, but I asked her to use her creativity and she did. I love her work ethic and imagination.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Alchemist, Green Hills of Africa, Invisible Man, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X are my top five books right now. I'd say what they all have in common is that they all encompass the spirit of redemption or transformation of some sort. I love stories of change.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love autobiographies or philosophical reads.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
Where I grew up is not as important as how I grew up. My parents encouraged reading and ever since I was a kid I loved to read. They didn't have to encourage me too much because it was one of my favorite things to do. Because of that love for reading I got to see different types and styles of writing. I never felt limited in how to tell a story because I had read so many great ones written in special ways.
When did you first start writing?
I was very young, writing poetry.
Published 2013-11-24.
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