Interviewing Shiloh Walker

29 May

(nota bene: This is the very first time I attempt interviewing anyone, please be kind, okay? Thanks!)

Shiloh, thank you so much for agreeing to be my guinea pig… erm, for being with us today. You have a new book, Through the Veil, coming out next Tuesday from Berkley Sensation, and I’m going to ask all sorts of questions about it later on, but first I’d like to be nosy about other things, if you don’t mind?

😀 As long as you don’t ask about my sex life, how much money I make…. Fire away, Aztec.

Although it may seem a bit too coincidental to ask this now, it’s something I’ve been long curious about… How did you come to choose your nom du plume?

Well, it’s Scottish and I love anything Irish, Scottish, Celtic… I don’t know why but when I was trying to pick a name out, Walker just sort of jumped into my mind. Then I needed to find a first name. I’d see Cheyenne McCray’s books on EC, and I loved the feel of her name, so to speak, and was thinking of something with a similar feel, I guess. I was skimming the internet for something, I don’t even remember what, and SHILOH sort of jumped out at me. It was in reference to a church, a city, something, I can’t remember. Started thinking… SHILOH WALKER… huh, I like that.

So voilà…! Shiloh Walker was born.

You’ve said elsewhere that you don’t like having your picture taken and posted online. Would you give us the Cliff Notes of why this is so?

Well, first…lol… I hate having my picture taken period. A couple of reasons, I hate how I look in them, I’m weird about my privacy, but there’s also a medical reason. I’m migraine prone and one thing that triggers them is bright flashes of light. I even went through a period where I couldn’t go near anything with strobe lights, (this meant no haunted houses at Halloween and that was AWFUL). They are a lot more easy to control now then they used to be, but if I’m having one of those days, all it takes is a camera flash and I’m done.

Then there’s the privacy thing. I’m very private. Pictures are a private sort of thing. I’ve gotten some ‘weird’ emails-guess the vampire erotic romance almost screams weirdness—and I’d rather err on the side of caution.

Then there’s the fact that I’ve always wanted to be a woman of mystery… (heh, go ahead, laugh) [A: Me? Laugh? :sniff: as if! :ahem:]. Maybe this is my way of cultivating that image.

Mostly, it boils down to privacy and the fact that my eyes protest the flash of lights.

Do you still get excited when you see one of your books on a bookstore shelf? Or when someone approaches you saying, “I love your books”?

Seeing one of my books totally freaks me out. I still grin. So, yes.

When somebody approaches me and says, I love your books, I don’t know if it excites me, exactly. It is cool to hear. But writing is something I’ve always done. It’s like breathing to me.

Most people would feel a little self-conscious if somebody came up to them and said I love how you breathe, right? Writing is like breathing to me. It’s just what I do.

But it’s so very cool that people enjoy it. Being able to tell stories for a living is something else. I’ve always had them in my head, and I’d write no matter. But having people love my writing enough that they pay to read it… which means I get paid to write? You can’t beat that. [A: unless you are me—then getting paid to read would be so much better :evil 😀 : ]

Do you have a stock answer (or set of answers) for the oft asked question, “where do you get your ideas?”? If you do, what is it/are they?

Yes. I have a very clever, well-thought out, much-pondered answer to that question.

It’s… I dunno. The ideas are just there.

Clever, yes? 😀 Unfortunately, I’m not one of those who can give a straight answer to that. I don’t think about certain ‘types’ of books and plan out what sort of book I want in advance. I don’t sit down thinking, “Well, It’s time for a romantic suspense. Lets see… we’ll try this, this… this…”

It’s more like I’m sitting at a stop light and I’ll hear something on the radio and all of a sudden, a voice is talking to me. It’s a character, or at least what will be a character. Or I’ll read a phrase. Last year, I was reading about a book… sexy twins going after one girl to join their ménage thing. And I got the idea for FRAGILE, a release I’ve got coming from Berkley in 2009. And before anybody asks: it’s not a ménage.

Is there any particularly impertinent/shocking/surprising question that a reader has asked you, either in person (at a signing, for example), or through email?

Oh geez. Yeah. I’ve had several people ask me… “So… do you really do all the things you write about?”

I can easily so no. And do. But one person in particular got really insistent. I think I finally ended up saying, “I write about killers, rapists and stalkers, too. So far, I haven’t killed, raped or stalked anybody. It’s just make-believe.” [A: Yikes! No wonder you guard your privacy!]

If you had to retell your THE CALL story in one paragraph, what would it be?

Okay… which call… one paragraph. HARD! Hmmmm…well, I could tell how I was about to put writing on the back burner right before EC made a contract offer for HER BEST FRIEND’S LOVER… but then I couldn’t tell you about how I was sitting at the PC one night and my IM goes off. It’s one of my friends, Lora Leigh.

Lora is one of my dearest friends. She’s a sounding board, a shoulder when I need to scream… and she’s also the woman who got me in touch with Angela Knight when my email was bouncing. Lora buzzed me, said “You need to call Angela Knight. Here’s her number. Write it down. Call her. Now.” I’m like,… “Why?” She goes… “CALL HER NOW”…and I persist… “WHY?” She won’t TELL me why, so I call Angela, and Angela says… “So Cindy Hwang has been trying to get in touch with you but your email is bouncing.” Me… “Uh… Cindy Hwang?” Angela… “Yeah, Cindy Hwang. Here’s her number…” Cindy is like one of the coolest editors—she’s at Berkley, I’d heard her name, more than once. I’m really excited, terrified… afraid to get excited. I mean why would she want to talk to me? I hadn’t sent her anything. Hadn’t entered any contests… but I’m not stupid, just a little bit of a dork. I get her number. It’s Sunday, so it’s not like I can talk to her now, but do I wait until Monday? Nope. I call. Leave a message. Probably stutter.

Then Monday rolls around. I’m too nervous to even leave the house. Then the phone rings. It’s a New York number. I answer, again, probably stuttering… and this lady goes, “Hi, I’m trying to reach Shiloh Walker?” Me…”Uh… that’s me”… Cindy… “Hi! You might not have heard of me but I’m Cindy Hwang, an editor for Berkley…” Me… “I know who you are….” Cindy… “Great! Okay, so here’s the thing… I’ve read some of your books and I wanted to know…”

Okay, okay. So it’s a long paragraph. But you didn’t give me a word count. 😀 [A: blame my foresight 😀 ]

Was it substantially easier to sell your second book compared to your first? Is it still difficult to sell new projects?

Yes. Knock on wood. New projects, not really. Usually when I’m writing something, I already know where I plan to submit it, and I’ve been lucky enough that my various editors like whatever it is I’m sending. When I submitted THROUGH THE VEIL, that was the worst, because of the waiting, but Cindy loved the idea. She just wanted to make sure I wasn’t stopping my HUNTERS series.

You have been writing for quite a long time (your bio says you started when you weren’t even a teen yet, dayum!). Do you come from a family of readers?

My dad used to read a lot. My grandmother on my mom’s side reads a lot. So…eh…maybe? Kinda sorta? But none of my brothers read much. My mom didn’t read as much when I was younger, or at least not that I can remember. Of course, I always had my nose in a book… so maybe I just didn’t notice…? [A: As a fellow bookworm, I think you probably didn’t notice what all the rest of the family were doing 😀 ]

You have been published electronically for a number of years by Ellora’s Cave and Samhain. What is your process when starting a new project with them? Is it any different than starting a project for Berkley or Pocket?

Yes, it’s different. When I start a new idea, basically, I have an idea in mind who I’m sending it to, but the contract from my e pubs comes after the book is written. I don’t have a set storyline that I have to follow, a set word count… well, because of contractual obligations have anything over 90,000 words goes to my editor at Berkley first to see if she’s interested. I don’t really have the strict deadlines with my e pubs that I have with Berkley.

With Berkley, all stories have to be over a certain word count, which means some of the stories I’ve written for EC or Samhain wouldn’t have sold there. Generally the more complex story lines are going to be submitted to Berkley.

It’s very much a different beast writing for a variety of places, but I love it.

Regarding your writing process, I would like to know a few things. Are you a plotter or a pantser (to borrow from Ann Aguirre)? Does it change depending on the project?

I’m a pantster who wants to be a plotter. Some stories are easier to plot—some stories REQUIRE that I plot them out. VEIL was one of them.

Do you have a writing routine à la Nora Roberts, or is yours of the writing-whenever-I-have-a-free-moment variety?

Ahhh… both? For some reason, I don’t write as well in the morning, so I tend to do my blog hopping, email, contracts, edits, whatever, in the morning. Then after 11 or 12, I focus on the book of the day. But if an idea hits outside the afternoon hours, then I’ll do it whenever I can squeeze it in.

When you are in the middle of a book, are you able to turn off/shut off the story you are writing when you leave your office/turn your computer off, in order to interact with family and do all the every day life mom/wife stuff? Or are the characters and story bickering in the back of your mind while you fake normalcy? :ahem:

I’m always faking normalcy. If the story gets too loud, I make a few notes or outline enough of whatever is in my head that the voices shut up for a while.

Has any one person in your previous professional life as a nurse made it into any of your books, in any capacity? (it can be good or bad, we won’t tell them :evil 😀 : )

Yes. And both good and bad.

Have you ever been in the middle of writing a book where you had to stop because another story would speak louder in your head? If so, were you able to finish both?

I rarely work on one thing at a time. I’m easily distracted and for some reason, I write better when I focus on a couple of different projects. [A: That’s just cool]

Do you have any unwritten stories either outlined or as synopses? How many?

In my head? Tons. On paper? Less than 10. I often let story ideas roll around in my head for a while before I do anything with them. THROUGH THE VEIL was one of them. So was my November book, THE MISSING.

On the same vein, are there any stories already alive in your mind that you actually don’t want to write? Would you share why that is with us?

Nah. Usually if it’s in my head, it wants to be written. Finding the time is the problem.

What is the longest you have “worked on” a story before actually writing it?

Four years. For both THROUGH THE VEIL and THE MISSING.

You are proficient in martial arts (taekwondo, right?). When did you start training and why? Does your perspective with this physical activity, particularly sparring, help you when writing action scenes?

Oh, geez, I dunno that I’d call me proficient. Before I got pregnant with my first child, I was a brown belt. That was over 10 years ago. A bad first trimester had me take some time off and I just never got back to it until a few years ago, in 2005, I think, I got back into it. I’m back at the level I was at… their ranking system is different, I’m dark blue, but it’s the same level I was before I’d dropped out.

As to my writing, I’d have to say that would be up to the reader if it helps. Yes, when I writing a scene where there is a fight, or a woman needs to use self-defense, I fall back on what I know.

On the flipside, when I’m reading, I can tell when the writer doesn’t have much first-hand experience in either self-defense or martial arts. I’ll read terminology that pretty much reads as thrown in. Not all techniques will work in all situations, and since I’ve learned some of the techniques, those instances stand out like a sore thumb.

If there are any, what are the worst inconsistencies in any of your published works?

Oh, I imagine there are plenty of inconsistencies. I use a couple of people to help me proofread for those sort of things, but that’s a fairly recent development, only over the past year or two. But I tend to push a book out of my head when I’m done with it, so I’d have to actually read the book or have somebody point out the issue (then I’d go read to find it) before I could answer that.

To Be Continued… (come back Tuesday, June 3rd for the second part)

In the meantime, be sure to visit Shiloh Walker’s website for information on a really cool scavenger hunt she’s holding to celebrate the release of Through the Veil–look at these prizes! Three lucky winners, three prizes:

  • One $50 GC to Barnes & Noble
  • One $15 GC to Barnes & Noble
  • One $10 GC
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