Let's meet Luke!
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A bit of both. I’m generally pretty pumped when I start a new book and find the certain something about it that works. Before that, I might flail a bit but then it kicks in. Same with the end when it all comes together. However, there are plenty of moments during the process, or the edits, when it’s a drag and I’m wiped out by it. Thankfully, the good outweighs the bad, most of the time.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
So many. A big one is thinking your first book(s) will change the world and make you a star, and being self-indulgent and writing about yourself, your experiences, and thinking the rest of the world will care. One issue if writing a book that doesn’t really have a plot or a story. If submitting stuff to agents or publishers, submitting books that aren’t anywhere near ready for submission, and being unprofessional in your submissions. A lot of new authors fall into the trap of talking about writing without actually doing much writing.
I did a few of these back in my early days, I’m sorry to say. We probably all do some of them. The important thing is to learn from them, find our individual voice and go from there.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I haven’t been blocked exactly for the last year, but owing to various personal setbacks, writing has been much harder than at any other point in the last twenty years. I thought I was coming through it earlier this year, but then hit some more personal stuff. Now, of course, we’re dealing with a pandemic and nobody has a clue what’s going to happen. It makes sitting down to make stuff up seem a bit silly. I’m planning a few short stories and a new book and hoping to get stuck in as soon as possible. (This is about writer's block!)
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think what readers want is something original. Yes, there are always tropes and familiar areas in all genres. It’s like seeing your favourite band play a gig – you want them to bust out the hits; they want to play you their new album. The writer has to be original and still have fun with familiar angles. I often like to take an overdone trope and play with it. Readers aren’t stupid. They know when you’re pandering to them. When it comes down to it, everyone wants a good, well told tale. The rest is just noise.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It didn’t change it in a big way. I’ve been writing with an eye on publication for close to twenty-five years. My first book was published in 2013 (and then republished a couple of years later by a different company), so I’d had plenty of time to write, work out what I wanted to say, and how to say it. I knew about editing and rewrites, and the long, hard slog of getting the words down before the slightest chance a publisher would like it. My process has always been pretty much the same. I come up with a basic idea, develop it in to a loose plot with a few background details of the characters and research whatever I have to. I average two drafts, then a tidy up. I love the idea of winging the entire thing and seeing where it goes, but while I did that with my early stuff, I find it hard now. I like it work with notes and an idea. The story often goes its own way which is fine. As long as I can find my way out of it.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Not so much novel as writers. Gary McMahon, Simon Bestwick, and Laura Mauro are three writers producing some first-rate stuff. Anyone who likes horror that stays with you needs to check them out. Ditto with the smaller publishers. They’ve got the writers I suspect the big presses won’t touch because horror is a dirty word in publishing. If you want great modern horror, the little guys are where you to need to go. (What he says is true, horror gets a bad rap in publishing houses)
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends purely on the book. I often need to research guns, the police, locations, and distances. For my most recent book (yet to be submitted anywhere), I had to get into a lot of medical and tech stuff which really isn’t my thing. The trouble is, the more you look into unfamiliar areas, the more you find you don’t know, so it’s easy to get swamped and lose sight of the story. On average, I probably spend a couple of weeks researching for the first draft and then another couple when I rewrite.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Not often, but I have done. My books Hometown and The Unredeemed share a couple of characters. Ditto The Unredeemed and Dead Sun. I often use the same town (Dalry) as a backdrop, but that doesn’t mean every book exists in the same version of Dalry. Far from it. As a character in Hometown says: “Dalry has a lot of sides.” Observant readers might spot a line that pops up in most of my books which sums up my fiction. No, I’m not saying what it is. You’ll have to read the books to find out.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Probably The Voyage of QV66. It’s a book by a British writer named Penelope Lively about a group of animals who live together after environmental collapse means humanity has left Earth. They go on a trip across a flooded Britain to find out what animal one of their number is. It’s very 70s and still charming. If you can find it, I definitely recommend it.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
It’s the business side of the artistic process. Publishing is a slow, uncertain industry. The ‘no reply means no’ from agents has become much more prevalent in recent years which is understandable, but it still leaves the writer wondering if their submission has actually been received. Writing in a genre that mainstream publishing doesn’t seem to care for is also hard. My choice, of course, but still a pain. Horror has a loyal, hungry audience, but the big companies aren’t keen on it for the most part. The smaller companies give it the support they can, but their resources are obviously limited.
How can you reach Luke Walker:
Luke welcomes comments at his blog which can be read at www.lukewalkerwriter.com and his Twitter page is @lukewalkerbooks. Sign up to his newsletter at
Luke's New book PANDEMONIUMis available for pre-order now and will be released on 27th March.
Kidnapped in broad daylight from a busy Edinburgh street, Hannah Wilson has no idea what her abductors want with her, as they chain her in the back of their van and speed out of the city. They tell her she's perfectly safe when she's terrified for her life. Transported to the far north of Scotland with dozens of others, all yanked from their lives across Britain, Hannah is taken to an isolated compound they call Pandemonium, which is an ultra-secure prison ruled by creatures that should exist only in nightmares - a place no one has survived for more than a few months. Hundreds of miles away from help, her family's lives at risk if she disobeys any order, Hannah knows the key to surviving her captivity is to bond with strangers and teach them all to refuse to be victims. But, she's running out of time to convince the other captives to take their fight to the black heart of the prison and its inhuman warden; Hannah is yet to discover she is not the only one about to start a war.
In Pandemonium, all Hell is going to break out.