Recently, I sat down with Shiloh Walker to talk about her newest novel, The Missing.
You talk about your background as a nurse on your blog, but I would like to hear more about it and how it has influenced your writing.
I’ve been in nursing for close to fifteen years–I do keep my license active and I do still work a few times a month. Writing isn’t the most stable business and nursing isn’t the sort of career you can go back to at the drop of a hat. So I keep my hand in…but as to whether it’s influenced my writing directly? I’m not really sure. In nursing, we have ‘objectivity’ drilled into our heads, so maybe that comes through.
The few times I’ve used a nurse or doctor as a character, the nursing has made it easier to build that character’s background. But nursing was basically my back-up plan-writing was my goal. Nursing was how I planned on supporting myself.
You mention that you work harder as a writer than you ever did as a nurse. I was wondering if there were any skills that you feel are common to both. Also, is there anything you learned doing hospital work (most of my work has been either in offices or nursing homes) working as a nurse that you’ve found useful in your writing?
Determination, definitely. The willingness to work hard. I’ve met lazy nurses, but they weren’t good nurses. Lazy writers, of course, are those who don’t tend to get contracts renewed.
Something I learned in nursing that’s helpful? Oh, that objectivity thing. Keeping in mind that it’s not always about me. Makes it a lot easier for me to just take a deep breath when I see a harsh review, or when I hear something that isn’t really easy to hear.
What do you think accounts for the amazing popularity of vampire fiction right now?
True Blood…Twilight. Then there’s the Buffy fans (like me) who are still looking for something to fill that void…It’s huge, I know, and it’s not going away any time soon. The thing is the vampire stories have been around for quite a while-I was reading authors like Linda Lael Miller and Maggie Shayne in the 90s–vamp fiction isn’t new. It’s just this amazing popularity that’s breathing life into it-it’s a big thing and has been for a while. Maybe it’s because the Twilight trend hit the teen crowd and a lot of those teens are now adults and they are still craving vamps and looking for more books and all the while, there’s a new group of teens discovering the Twilight books, and in another few years, they’ll be looking for more books-it’s like this endless circle. But I really don’t know.
On your website, you mention rewriting a book at the age of 12. Are you willing to tell us what it was?
Man, I don’t even remember what it was…
Is there anything in particular about being a mother that has found its way into your writing?
That would depend on whether or not there are kids in the book…or whether or not the hero or heroine have much interaction with their parents in the book.
What do you find most satisfying about being a writer? What do you find most frustrating?
Most satisfying-writing the very last word of a book. Most frustrating-being asked to write a synopsis.
Is there a key piece of advice you’d like to give young writers?
Don’t do it to get rich-most of us aren’t. Do it because you love to write.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about being a writer?
How much of my job is actually spent not writing.
Do you have a favorite moment about a fan encounter? Or a least favorite moment?
Eh, most of my readers are pretty cool. There have been some really awesome moments, like when a reader from Canada attended the Lori Foster & Dianne Castell’s event. She told me, “As long as I got to meet you and Beth Kery, I knew I’d go home satisfied.” Then I had a reader who’d come from Australia to a previous Lori Foster event, and she could only bring a couple of books to get signed-she chose to bring mine. That was really cool.
The few unpleasant moments have been few and far between-on rare occasion, I’ll have somebody ask the rude questions-I write romance and many of my books are erotic romance. I’ve been asked things like, “So…do you really do all the things you write about?” Usually, I reply, completely straight-faced, “I haven’t killed anybody lately.” And they don’t go any farther–those who push it farther, trying to press for ‘more’, I point out that I write about vampires, werewolves and serial killers. If I can write about vampires, werewolves and serial killers without baying at the moon, killing people or biting people, then the rest should go without saying and I don’t discuss it farther.
But again, the few unpleasant moments have been few and far in between…my readers are great.