Q&A With Wendy Walker
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Q&A With Wendy Walker
Back in October Bestselling author Emily Liebert, connected me with Bestselling author of psychological suspense Wendy Walker to do a Q&A with. Wendy Walker is the author of “Don’t Look For Me,” “Emma In The Night,” “The Night Before,” “All Is Not Forgotten,” “Four Wives,” and her upcoming novel, “What Remains,” which comes out June 13th of 2023.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about writing psychological suspense? What’s your least favorite thing about writing psychological suspense?
A: I love that readers expect and enjoy deeply human, flawed, traumatized and even psychotic characters when reading this genre, which then allows me to write them! These are the characters that interest me most, and allow me to draw from my work as a family law attorney and other experiences with trauma. What I find challenging is the expectation of a mind-blowing twist in every book. After Gone Girl, publishers sought the same kind of device – a play on readers’ assumptions about a narrator or time frame. And there have been some brilliant twists using these techniques. But weaving one into every book begins to confine the plot. I have started to move away from this in my books and focus on the elements of suspense throughout the story, the emotional depth of the characters, and a great reveal at the end.
Q: At what point in your life did you realize your calling was to be an author?
A: I don’t know that I ever felt it as a calling. I started to write after I had my first son, because there were very limited options to work from home and be in control of my work schedule. I had been a corporate litigator to that point, and knew this career would not allow me to be with my kids as much as I wanted. The Internet was new and still connected to phone lines! I started writing out of necessity. However, the idea came to me very quickly after exhausting other paths, so I imagine it had been simmering on a back burner. Growing up, I was very driven to be independent and financially secure. It never occurred to me to try something with an uncertain trajectory to advancement. When I finally had the chance to consider alternative paths, writing was there, waiting!
Q: Where do you get all your ideas to write your novels?
A: They come from many places! Like any job, when you write for a living, you develop a set of tools – and one of those is foraging for story ideas. Every day, we notice things in the world. It might be someone stealing a parking space and how angry it makes us feel. Or a couple walking down the street who look insanely happy and in love. Or someone in the line at the grocery store who lets us go ahead because we only have a few items. These moments that make us take notice are important, because if we notice them, others would as well. And this means it’s a possible story idea. I pay close attention to these moments as I go about my day, read the news, talk to friends, etc. I can trace the plot of every book to a moment like these.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to write? What advice do you give to those who struggle with writers block?
A: First, make sure you know what you’re getting into. There’s writing, and then there’s getting published and making a living as a writer. I think it’s important to set expectations and know why you’re writing. If it’s for your own fulfillment, then just sit down and write what makes you feel good. If you want to forge a career, that’s a different story. It may sound cynical, but there are gatekeepers and they get far too many queries than they can handle. So while it’s important to write a great book, it’s just as important to know how to position it, network, and get it read by an agent or editor. As for writer’s block, I just make myself put something down on the page. So much of writing is revising! I always work with an outline, and I try to write a chapter a day. So even if I just sketch out the action and reveals that my outline calls for, it’s okay. I know I can come back and flesh it out tomorrow or the next day. And I always remember, if I write just one page a day for one year, that’s a book!
Q: In your Amazon bio it said that Hollywood has the rights to several of your novels. Which ones are being made into TV and movies? Are you an executive producer of them and do you write the scripts? I know more and more authors are getting control over how Hollywood does a film and TV adaptation of their work and I think it’s smart due to how Hollywood butchers literary works at times.
A: All of my books have rolled in and out of options for TV series or films. It changes all the time, with options expiring, being renewed or extended. I never know what’s going to happen, but I also understand that it’s a very winding road to get from a book to the screen. Sometimes it happens quickly, and other times it takes decades. A veteran show runner once told me that even after 30 years in the business, he still can’t predict what will make it and what won’t. As for my involvement, I have typically stayed out of the process because Hollywood is a very small place. Even though I’m an established author now, I do not have any screenwriting credits. Insisting on being the screenwriter could slow things down. However, this has been changing lately and I see more and more authors writing their own screenplays and pilots on spec. I have been writing fully scripted stories for Audible, so I may dive in myself!
Q: If you were to collaborate with another author, who would it be and why?
A: Yikes! That’s a tough question. There are so many great authors out there. It would have to be someone who can write with a plot outline and where we each wrote our own characters and chapters. I think my brain might explode if I had to switch gears every time my co-author wrote his or her chapter! I tend to dive deep into whatever I’m writing, and to do that, I need to be in control of every plot line, character, and emotion. That’s how things come together for me. If there were pieces to the puzzle I couldn’t see because someone else had them, this process would be interrupted. That said, I love brainstorming with other writers. Many times, they will see a path I didn’t see and it will lead me to something awesome. I think it would be a lot of fun to find a writing partner who fit into these parameters, and who shared a similar process.
Q: Did you have fun writing “What Remains”? I read the synopsis on Amazon and I plan on reading it the plot hooked me in already.
A: Thanks! I loved writing What Remains. It’s my third book with one primary narrator and POV. The first was All Is Not Forgotten, and the second was American Girl. It’s an extremely immersive experience to be in the head of one character for the entire story. I get to become my character and draw on every ounce of empathy I have to imagine what they would think and feel, and do, in the most difficult situations. In What Remains, I got to be Elise Sutton, a cold case detective who is placed in an impossible situation, suffers trauma after making a horrific decision, and then becomes the target of a dangerous and unstable man. As I was writing, her backstory and personality became central to her decisions and I loved taking readers on her journey!
Q: Are you working on a new novel now? If so can you spoil a little bit about it?
A: I have two projects going on! The first is a new thriller which is in early days. It has four narrations happening at once and involves a serial killer. That’s all I can say until I know it’s going to work! The second project is a fully scripted Audible Original which will be about 3 hours long and involved the shooting of a wealthy couple in a quiet suburban town. I love both of them and am very hard at work getting them done!
“What Remains”, is available for pre-order. You can also request a copy of “What Remains,” on the Netgalley app and you can add it to your want to read list on Goodreads.