Interview with Jim Walker

What motivated you to become an indie author?
For me writing is my bliss. Being able to share my thoughts, ideas and passions with a wider world without having to subscribe to whatever is currently trendy gives (me) a sense of tremendous freedom. If someone is willing to make the effort to download, read and, perhaps, pay a little for my work that pleases me. But more importantly, it is a way of bringing pleasure to a wider world.
I believe that it would be hypocritical for anyone to say that they would not like to be published in a 'traditional' fashion, however being an indie author does give one a measure of freedom. It is a scary thing to put one's self out there, which is part of the freedom. The reward is that people will actually try what you have to say.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Success can be defined as feeling your bliss. Smashwords provides a platform for that feeling by way of making an author's words available to a wider audience. My work does not necessarily fit into literary or genre publishing, especially in Canada. Here is a platform like the early days of Gutenberg that brings one around to a true marketplace. We put our work up there, hopefully it is the best we are able to produce, and readers will decide whether they wish to download it. Success, via Smashwords is the fact that I can look at the Dashboard and see that people are actually reading and hopefully enjoying my stories.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is beautiful, scary and hard. It is the closest thing to telepathy that we humans are able to perform. Whether it is a piece of fiction or an essay or fact, we communicate our thoughts to another. The joy from writing comes when I see or hear someone taking pleasure from my words.
What do your fans mean to you?
Other than playing with ideas and attempting to frame them in some meaningful way, it is all about the fans. I write because that is what I do, however knowing that there are people out there who take pleasure from my offerings is what keeps it fresh and interesting.
What are you working on next?
I have a number of ideas on the 'spike' (an old newspaper term). In a previous life, I was a photojournalist for a Prairie newspaper. There's a memoir in there somewhere about a young man coming of age in an industry that is sadly declining. Rover Flight was supposed to be a stand-alone work. It looks like it will be a trilogy, at least. I have an adventure in Las Vegas that I hope to post next (titled 'Wild Card'). Also, in the works is an environmental novel with the working title: 'Water'.
Who are your favorite authors?
That is a tough question to answer. I was one of five children; none of us born in the same place. That happened because we were a military family and in the fifty's and sixty's if you wished to get promoted you went wherever they sent you. The one thing wherever you landed (literally) was that there was always a base library. Reading was a great comfort when you were shuttled about from place to place. I suppose that Science Fiction, the Tom Swift and later Robert Heinlein juveniles provided a measure of escapism in a youth's apparently hectic life. Later, it was Frank Herbert along with Arthur Clarke and Poul Anderson that shaped my thinking; along with Bill Bryson, Naomi Klein and Niall Ferguson. I suppose I have an eclectic taste in favorite authors.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Having recently retired from my (last) day job, I could say that I do not have to get out of bed each day. Of course, that would beg the question. The answer is that each day has its pleasures, its activities and, yes another opportunity to sit at my Mac and create.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I share the day with my love, Irene. We do the stuff of life: perhaps it is the laundry; or (my) helping in the garden; then Victoria's a very walk-able city with a gentle climate and beautiful ocean-side views. Also family and travel are a big part of our lives.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I suppose the first story I wrote that someone read and that was not part of my schooling was one about a boy who could speak with dogs. I must have been eight or nine when I wrote it. Oddly enough, my mother sent it to me half-a-century later when she found it while cleaning up some old papers.
What is your writing process?
This question, writing classes and workshops I have attended at the local community college and UVic constantly talk about process. I imagine we all have one. If anything, my ideas and especially my characters take on a life of their own. I suppose one could say that the process is an iterative one. Much of my thinking dwells on what could be called ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Very often, I would say to myself 'they actually would not act that way' or, 'have that happen'. I generally do not plot the stories. I kind of ride along with the protagonists very interested in what they will do.
How do you approach cover design?
The covers of two of my Smashword stories were done by a professional graphic designer, Becky Tibble. (I shall leave it to the reader to determine which ones.) We talked about what would help the reader to pick the book ... its 'shelf appeal' as well as a suggestion about the book's story. I attempted to use the same guidelines for the other books.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Another tough question. Can I get it down to five? Perhaps; Frank Herbert's 'Dune' would be one. I was moved by the depth and absolute adventure of the book. Even after all these years, I will pick it up and re-read it like visiting with an old and dear friend. Spider Robinson wrote a book along with his late wife Jeanne called 'Stardance'. Here is a work that combines the beauty of dance with the hard realities of SF in an amazing read. He also wrote a piece called 'Very Bad Deaths' that frightened me so much that I read it in one go reinforced by a very good Scotch. It is still a favorite, though. A book that has influenced so much of my thinking and understanding of the world is 'Godel, Escher, Bach' by Douglas Hofstadter. OK, number five. Pretty much anything by Robert Heinlein, however picking one: 'Stranger in a Strange Land'. I think that is pretty much self explanatory.
What do you read for pleasure?
Pretty much anything if it is well written, is going somewhere and the writer appears to be engaged both with the book and her audience. I wish to be thrilled if it is a thriller, have my mind blown if it is a fantasy or science fiction. I wish to learn (after all, are we not all life-long learners?) if it is factual. I loved 'Pride and Prejudice'. I am not a big fan of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. There, however are mashups that I did like such as 'The Girl with all the Gifts. Hopefully it is not too prideful to say that I actually have read Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
OK I admit it. I have had a Mac since they were first introduced to the World. Actually, before that an Apple II+ (And, no I am not trying to flog a particular platform.) I supported PC's for the majority of my IT and teaching career. I am pretty agnostic about a particular e-reading device. Currently I am using an iPad with both a Kobo app as well as an app supported by our regional library.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Early days, yet. This is a foray into raising my presence. We do not blog, tweet or social mediate as such. In fact, when my daughters wanted to friend me, I had said that why do I need to friend, I'm your father. I suppose marketing is the way of the world, however I am inclined to write, post my works and let the wold find me if they wish.
Describe your desk
(I am rather enjoying these questions.) We live in a less than one thousand square foot two bedroom town house. The second bedroom, which has a murphy bed, currently in the upright position between floor to ceiling bookcases is my work space along with Irene's sewing table, temporary storage for a reflecting telescope and, yes, my desk. My 'desktop' is actually my Mac that is perched on a mobile computer desk with a laser printer tucked in the foot well. It is a reasonably tidy, compact works pace where I manage to not encroach too much on Irene's sewing.
When did you first start writing?
I have been writing my entire life. By that I mean crafting something for others to read and, hopefully enjoy. I, in another life, worked for a newspaper. I came up in the (then) traditional manner starting out as a copy boy (pardon my PC incorrectness), then as a junior reporter, copy editor and subsequently as a photographer. When I changed to teaching, I started writing user guides (this was before the plethora of guides that are no out there). I wrote extensive materials as part of my IT support role in government. The fun stuff started about fifteen years ago; not that I did not enjoy the previous writing experiences.
What's the story behind your latest book?
When the Taylors and their friends visited the International Space Station in a beat up motorhome, I thought that would be the end of the adventure. It was barely the beginning. If the Space Station was on the Earth's surface, one could easily walk to it. We needed to take a step further out. Mars is the perfect next step. It is entirely possible that we could live there; albeit with an extraordinary effort. Are not humans built for the extraordinary? Rover Mars explores this question an many others.
Published 2016-01-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Wild Card
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 103,110. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
The McLeod's simple life is all but destroyed after Art's accident. They discover a way out of their mess that takes them to Las Vegas only to become embroiled with gangsters, bomb plots and a man bent on any means to get into the White House. The couple truly become a 'Wild Card' as they struggle to free themselves, save their lives, their friends and possibly tens of thousands on the Strip.
Rover Mars
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 79,590. Language: English. Published: January 19, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
A manned expedition to Mars nearing the end of its journey encounters a nuclear submarine that mysteriously appears on the planet. It is up to the crew of the Victoria Rover to undertake a rescue and avert both an international and interplanetary tragedy.
Rover Flight
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 144,910. Language: English. Published: February 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When the World is closing in and all the villains are at your door, your only escape is the ultimate road trip to the stars. Peter Taylor, his wife Sandy and their companions, Christine and Mike take a beat-up motor home on a visit to the International Space Station. What was to be a publicity stunt turns into a rescue mission. A fable of adventure, romance and the Pacific Northwest.
Nordquist's Folly
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 15,480. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Romance » General, Fiction » Adventure » Sea adventures
In a world of hurt, you can find love in the most unexpected places. A short comedy of loss and redemption.