Interview with Lars Walker, Viking fantasy author and Christian

It's always a joy for me to find a new published Christian author in the field of fantasy and science fiction. One of the extraordinary things about this particular find is that he has been published by major secular publisher, Baen Books.

So without further delay, let me introduce Lars Walker. He is the author of four books published by Baen. You can find out all the details about them under the heading "BOOKS" at the authors website. www.larswalker.com

I encourage you to visit Walkers website and read the section titled "About my Books". It gives some awesome observations on writing.

Mr. Walker was kind enough to grant me an interview with him, so here goes:


BB: What are some of the new things going on in your life, writing or otherwise?

LW: I'm happy to report that I have a new publisher, Nordskog Publishing of Ventura, California. They're a young publishing house, and mine will be the first novel they'll be bringing out in their brand-new fiction line called Noble Books. The title is West Oversea, and it continues the Saga of Erling Skjalgsson which began in my novel The Year of the Warrior.

BB: What inspired you to start writing?

LW: When I was a kid I used to draw. I planned to be a commerical artist or a cartoonist. But my drawing always frustrated me. I was never able to achieve the effects I wanted. I started getting some attention for my writing in school, and began to experiment with writing stories. When I did that, the desire to draw disappeared almost overnight. Writing gave me a sense of mastery over my medium that I never attained with drawing.

BB: If you could name a few books of fiction and non-fiction that have had big impact on you, what would they be?

LW: Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it goes without saying. But I never really aspired to emulate Tolkien. The author who inspired me to write fantasy was Robert E. Howard. When I read his Conan stories, I thought, "I could write that kind of thing."
My all-around favorite author, though, is C. S. Lewis. My novel, Wolf Time was inspired by his That Hideous Strength, and other people have noticed the influence, so I must have done something right.
Nowadays I read mostly mysteries and thrillers, though. I think I do that because a) they're generally better written than most contemporary fantasy, and b) the fact that I can't seem to write in that genre frees me up to enjoy without analyzing too much.

BB: Tell us about your journey from unpublished author to your finding a home with major publisher Baen Books.

LW: About the time I finished college, I sat down to write the story which eventually became Wolf Time. I produced a horrible mess and gave it up about 2/3 of the way through. But I didn't throw it away.
A few years later I thought to myself, "If I just finish this monstrosity--just write an end to it--I'll be able to say I've written a novel. It'll be a lousy novel, but I'll know I can do the physical work. Someday I know I'll be able to write a good novel, and when that happens I'll already know I can finish a book, which ought to make it easier to do." So I did that. Then I put it in a stationery box and stuck it in a closet. I concentrated on short stories, and got some sold.
A few years after that I realized what the book was about and how I could make it work. I set to work re-writing it without once glancing at the original manuscript. I finished it.
And a mere ten years after that, my agent sold it to Baen (after he'd already sold the first Erling book to them).
So the whole process only took me about 25 years.

BB: You have had four books released by Baen Books, tell us about your experience with them.

LW: I was pleased and honored to be published by a secular house. Jim Baen (gone now, alas) was an agnostic, but he actually practiced the principle of the free exchange of ideas. He published me, and he also published Eric Flint, who's a Communist (though his stable of writers tended to the right/libertarian side). I admired him intensely. Unfortunately I ended up getting on his wrong side (largely my own fault) and he cut me loose.

BB: How has your Christian faith influenced your writing?

LW: I have all kinds of high-flown ideas about art as an expression of God's creation in the world. The basic pattern of a story plot (Protagonist tries to solve problem, fails, tries again, fails again, and keeps trying until he finds something that works or fails in a significant way) echoes the very pattern of how life is lived. A story that's faithful to the truth glorifies God as much as a symphony or a sunset. Jesus Himself did most of His teaching with stories.

BB: There's been a large criticism of Christian fiction (of all genres) that it trends toward heavy handed preaching and telliness rather than letting the characters develop naturally through action and story. What are your thoughts on this?

LW: The critics are right, and I've been guilty more often than I like to admit. A really good story doesn't need a stated moral any more than we need to see fiery words in the sky saying, "AND THE LESSON IS..." in order to learn from our experiences.

BB: What advice do you give to fledgling writers?

LW: The same as everyone else's. Write. Apply seat to office chair and fill screen with words. Don't expect to be a master from the beginning. Your first drafts will always suck. That's what first drafts are meant to do. Once the story is down on paper (or magnetic media), you can re-write and revise until you've said what you meant to say. Get friends who write, or are discerning readers, to critique for you. Once you think the story is perfect, put it away in a drawer for about 3 months, and then look at it again. You'll be appalled at what you find, but that's usually the point where you can do a final draft and actually have something that's not an insult to an editor.

BB: Thank you Mr. Walker for sharing about your life and writing experience. I wish you all the best in your writing and in this adventure we call life.

LW: My pleasure.

11 comments:

gzusfreek said...

mmm.Brandon, I'm sold! Sign me up. I am so excited to pick some Lars Walker books up. Thank you for sharing! :)

Brandon said...

Hi gzusfreek :)
I'm glad you liked the interview. I asked Lars which book he recommended of his, and he said "Year of the Warrior". So that's the one I bought, and I'm looking forward to reading it!

Robert Treskillard said...

Brandon,

Great interview of Lars!

I almost met him at the last ACFW conference when he dropped by to share a meal with the spec-fic writers. My mom had broken her foot, though, and I had to go help her. Your interview filled in a few missing pieces.

-Robert

Brandon said...

Hi Robert,
Thanks :) I'd never heard of him until just last month.

Andra M. said...

I, too, look forward to reading his books.

Thanks to you both for the interview!

Brandon said...

Hi Andra :)
Thanks for stopping by!

Alexander Field said...

Great interview Brandon. It's always great to find people who are writing and publishing and doing it well. Ironically his new publishers is in my area and I've met Jerry Nordskog, his new publisher. I will have to check out his Baen books, and those forthcoming too. Thanks!

Brandon said...

Hi Alexander,
So your a southern California guy too huh? Same here.
And you've met Jerry Nordskog, indeed it is a small world...

Lars Walker said...

Glad you all enjoyed it. They're saying the new book should be released this month. No later than May, I expect. We're wrapping up the cover and final edits now.

Samuel D. Smith said...

I've never met anyone important, unless you count that frog king who gave me that magic baby-rattle.But I like Lars Walker, and I like good books.

Thanks for doing the interview!

Brandon said...

Hi Lars,
Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to your new book coming out. Now I'm curious about the new cover art...

Hi Samuel,
thanks for the comment. Make sure to check out his newest book coming "no later than May"!