📚 IN DEPTH ✏
INSPIRATIONAL, IMAGINATIVE FANTASY
WALTER M. WILLIAMS III
Tell us a little bit about yourself-
As you are undoubtedly aware, my name, is Walter M. Williams III. I was originally born in Oakland, California but have lived in numerous places across this country of ours. I now live in the Bay Area once more. Though I have a degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Homeland Security, I have been exploring other career options other than law enforcement.
Which writers inspire you?
Todd McFarlane, the author of the original Spawn comics, has been a huge inspiration too me since I was a young teen. The dark atmosphere, traveling to alternate planes of reality, concepts of heaven and hell, and the plethora of incredibly menacing characters all locked in combat for one reason or another. What is not to love?
Ben Okri, a Nigerian poet and novelist wrote a book called “The Famished Road”. I read it as a child and the described imagery has always amazed me. His writing has this wonderful way of blending the banality, and mundane of everyday life with the more absurd, unnatural, and otherworldly presence of a supernatural world lying just beneath the surface of what we perceive as real. The “Famished Road” has so much sincerity, humor and sadness all at once.
Clive Barker’s horror stories have inspired me since reading his “Hellbound Heart” series when I was much younger. Outside of both of those, I love Shakespeare poetic humanity in his writings. Stephen King’s down-to-earth advice, and approach when it comes to writing. And James Baldwin’s raw, unapologetic, unflattering, brilliant power with the written word.
Though, I am by no means a sci-fi author, Octavia Bulter’s stories exploring gender, humanity, and race through stories about trans human transformations inspired some of the themes my own stories explore, such as what would many man, and woman truly look like if their deeds, personalities, and inner nature became their outer appearance. Butler was a soul truly born before her time as her way of thinking was leagues outside the norm.
Polly Frost, an author that blends erotica, horror, and humor, sometimes all into one mind-bending story has been a large inspiration in my writing in recent years. She has a great versatility by sometimes writing these lustful, wanton tales that can easily spill over into the darker sides of human sexuality. But a few pages later she then turns on the light again with a mischievous charm, and irreverent playfulness.
Lillian Slugocki, an author who writes with a sort of in-your-face, unapologetic, punk sensibility, but also with elegance, wit and a great undertow of emotional depth. While trying to describe how I viewed her writing to a friend, such as “the Blue Hours”, I told them it was like taking the spirit of the older, gritter NY, and shoving it beneath the sleeker, friendlier body of modern NY.
What are you reading at present?
I am just about done with Steven Pinker’s “Sense of Style”. Outside of mainstream publishing, I have been reading more indie titles these days. Currently I am switching between three different books by three separate authors. Kayti Nika Raet’s “Niko”. Claude Melanson’s “Rising Tide”. And Kenneth W. Harmon’s “The Amazing Mr. Howard”.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
It is incredibly easy to over think how, and when to begin writing. First, do not think chapters ahead or you will become overwhelmed by the sheer scoop of what you want to accomplish. Think about your book as only a few pages at a time, and set small goals.
Next, stop saying you are going to write, and instead just do it. In the beginning do not concern yourself with making the plot and characters pretty. Just get the idea out first. The first draft is just a bare skeleton that will be properly dressed, and beautified with following drafts.
The last piece of advice I can offer, if you are having trouble with making stronger characters, is to write out character applications. These can serve as inspirations, and answers for you as the story continues. Outside of just their names, or what you imagine as their physical appearance, write a couple of paragraphs about their family history. Write their likes, dislikes, and what experiences has shaped their personality up to this point in the story. Then keep that character true to themselves. It is one thing for your protagonist to grow and change organically through a story, but it is another to force abrupt, convenient changes to make a plot work.
Where do your ideas come from, what inspires you?
I love receiving emails, or messages from readers expressing their feelings and thoughts about one of my books. It does not matter if it is negative or positive. I am honestly flattered they took the time to finish the book. I noticed a frequent thought in many of the emails I have received by some readers. They express sometimes feeling like the protagonists of one of my books did not deserve the horrible circumstances thrust upon them. I would frequently agree with these sympathetic readers.
However, despite the often extraordinary, and wholly supernatural circumstances my characters find themselves involved in, it still contains elements of the real word such as life is not always about “deserve”, or right, and wrong. Fritz Lang, a German film director, was known for stories where the heroes did not always win. His reasons behind these seemingly bleak outcomes is because having “right” or being “just” is not a promise you will succeed., or defeat villains.
A “hero” is not just a hero of a story because she or he wins. They are heroes of the story because they struggle on, continue to fight, or willingly sacrifice despite having no reassurance of victory.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
No outline. I prefer to have my general idea, the characters, some motivations, then see where it all goes each night I begin writing. I feel like it leaves my imagination, and options open to allow the story to just go off in whatever organic direction it will move in.
How many books have you written, which is your favorite?
I have written about 5 or 6, but have only published 4. “Nightmare’s Paradise”, “A Violent Lament”, and “The Languishing Bay”. The 4th is actually a companion book to Nightmare’s, and Languishing, offering some background lore, and illustrations about the universe both those stories take place in.
Not sure if I can say I have a favorite. I removed “Nightmare’s Paradise” so I could revise somethings, and have it edited again (a 900-dollar mistake I warn other authors about). I enjoyed writing the Languishing Bay because it is set in the East Bay of California, where I live. But I also really enjoyed writing “A Violent Lament” because I was able to experiment with the idea of writing it as a modern Gothic Horror tale. I burrowed a lot from the language, troupes, and atmosphere gothic novels of the times had, but applied them to a modern setting.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on the conclusion to “A Violent Lament”, and a collection of short non-fiction stories called “Restless Dreams”. The latter’s moods and emotions range from the tragic such as revisiting the murder of my father when I was 12, having grown up witnessing a lot of violence, and shootings. Happier, and sweeter stories like going on my first date, that first love, and the adventure of learning to be a young parent. Then more humorous stories like having drinks New Year’s night with friends, then getting this brilliant idea to visit a supposed haunted house.
What genre are your books?
I am not certain what genre my current books fall under. I am always worried classifying them under the wrong genre, and unintentionally misleading possible readers. “Nightmare’s Paradise” originally started out as horror, but there is also a lot of action, gun fights, etc. So maybe it is Action/Horror? “A Violent Lament” is my attempts at a modern Gothic Horror, mixed with action. Finally, the “The Languishing Bay”, as mentioned before, is in the same universe as my first novel but with different characters, in a different city. It has many of the same elements but definitely stays closer to the Supernatural Horror genre.
Tell us a little bit about the book(s)/ series.
The Languishing Bay, and Nightmare’s Paradise, both share the same universe. One I hope to write several stand alone, single stories in. While both these titles will have a direct sequel to them, I would prefer to right several stand-alone tales in this universe. For both protagonists of this shared universe, their individual stories begin the same, they awake to discover the sky is constant lit like it is the beginning of evening twilight, and besides for a few remaining survivors, the cities are seemingly deserted. These elements in themselves would be distressing but the protagonist soon come to learn that there are a variety of warped abominations stalking the streets, each killing one another, as well as any survivors they encounter. Both stories follow each respective protagonist as they search for their loved ones, clues to what is happening, and their desperate struggle to survive the various horrors they encounter. Nightmares & Predators is a 50-page companion book offering lore, and illustrated profiles of some of the creatures the characters encounter. The stories do go much deeper but at the risk of major spoilers I have to leave the synopsis for both there.
A Violent Lament follows the protagonist, Polly, after she has been resurrected from the Abyss by a race of vampires, through an ancient covenant with a primordial spirit known only as the Grave Shadow. She is turned into the Devourer, a damned human soul transformed into a predatory spirit, and ritually bound back into the corpse it once inhabited. She is told her summoning is proof that the Priest-King, the enigmatic ruler of the theocratic nation of vampires, still has heaven’s mandate to rule. His secret police, and the Lord Inquisitor begins using Polly as a living weapon in their war against the insurrectionist. She makes for a terrifying religious weapon as the thought of having one’s soul devoured, thus being denied paradise, is a potent threat. Yet, who are these insurrectionist? And what has led to this religious war? Making matters far more grave is that as the fighting continues the vampires increase their risk of being discovered by those they secretly rule over, humanity– who obviously would react with far more than just fear, pitchforks, and torches.
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A really interesting interview! Walter is also an author who’s channeling his own heartbreaking life experiences into his writing, much like I try to do. Thanks so much for sharing your valuable writing advice and insights with us Walter. tf