Today, I welcome Walter Williams to my blog.
Please tell us more about yourself, anything you like- interests, background
By day I am an information security “super hero”, protecting my company’s intelligence and data from fiendish hackers and masked anonymous avengers. By night, I am a mild mannered father to two daughters, husband of a delightful woman, mystic, poet, and author. I have a masters degree in Anthropology, love historical fiction, romance (of both the modern and old fashion kind), fantasy, mystery, science fiction and classical literature.
Please tell us more about the book or books you would like to feature today.
The Garden at the Roof of the World is a story about love. It is a historical romantic fantasy. You can’t write historical fiction about the middle ages without fantasy, because the people back then expected to find unicorns in the forests, dragons in the mountains and sea monsters in the oceans. In the middle of the thirteenth century, the idea of marriage for love was a new and dangerous thing. I tell the story of a young woman who is very much in love and is willing to undergo great trials so that she may marry the man who loves her.
Note from Lily: I write historical romance too! I love it.
Here is the link for the book, out in 30 days! http://publishing.dragonwell.org/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=65&products_id=10011&zenid=l88fdqkq4m66rpg70r6alf2ob4
Buy from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NWP8vY
What gave you the idea to write in this genre?
I’d always wanted to write a story about love when the ideas of romantic love were new and dangerous, and when the nature of love was being explored and discovered anew. The Garden at the Roof of the World is that story. Weaving fantasy and mythology into such a story was journey into the minds and the hearts of the people in the medieval era who expected to find unicorns in the deep forests and monsters in the depths of the sea. I’ve always loved the medieval era, especially the flowering of science, art and philosophy that was emerging in the thirteenth century. Albertus Magnus rediscovered the steam engine, invented animation and used it to study bird flight, Thomas Aquinas rediscovered Aristotelian philosophy, and used it to help reform many of the social institutions of the day including upholding the idea that marriage should be a union of love between two people. Dante would write his Divine Comedy, Sir Francis Bacon create the scientific method, and so much else that would later be destroyed by the black death, the plague that killed so many people who were good and kind and willing to help the sick and infirm.
Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect with?
To love some one is to give your self to them. That you must be willing to accept their gift of self to you, even as they lay down their lives for you. That you can’t love without being willing to forgive both the person you love and yourself.
What research did you do, and how? Or does it all come from your own imagination?
I read many medieval romances, poetry, philosophies, epic poems from all the lands that my characters journeyed through. This allowed me to rediscover the delightful poetry of Rumi, the brilliant insights of Aquinas, and discover the brilliant poetry of the woman troubadours. I read the mythology of the age, as well as its history, which often amounted to the same thing, discovering that the hidden and mysterious kingdom of Lo Mantang in the Himalayas was real, and that they claim the sudden appearance of a unicorn prevented Genghis Khan from crossing overwhelming their kingdom like he destroy so much else. I read the histories of the crusader states, of the Caliphate, of the Sultanate of Delhi, and so much else.
What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve done when doing research for your book?
One of my characters is a prostitute. To get into her head, I interviewed a number of women in the sex profession. Not prostitutes, but strippers. They were delighted to take my money to tell me about themselves, their mindset, and how they approach their customers and their personal lives while keeping their clothing on.
Do you ever base your characters on people you know?
Do you make a plan for your novels, or do you just start writing and see where it goes?
I planned, tore up the plan, and made a new one. That one burned, sank into the swamp, and I planned again, and that plan was mostly followed. However, while writing the story I would discover things that I hadn’t planned on, and changed the plan to incorporate my discoveries.
Which of your own books/ characters is your favourite and why?
It is hard for me to choose a favorite, as I love them all, even the nasty ones. If I ignore the minor characters such as the little girl who sits on Élise’s lap and asks of her a story, or the ash covered naked ascetic who runs after the main characters shouting at them their doom, I guess I’ll choose Gwenaella, who is the character the story centers on. She comes from a family of Breton fishermen and has been sent to a convent school so that she might learn enough to be the bride of a wealthy merchant. It is hard not to love a character who climbs down the vine covered convent walls to meet with a poet she’s fallen in love with, and later risks the dangers of the Brocéliande forest in the hopes that she may yet marry for love.
What has been the most helpful piece of advice you’ve received as a writer?
Don’t ever give up.
What books or other projects do you have coming up in future?
I’m trying to sell a novel about a hacker who is accused of terrorism under the patriot act, sent away to prison for 20 years, and once freed will seek his revenge against the people who wrongfully accused him. I’m also writing a novel about a dilettante and pacifist in pre-world war one Paris who discovers that absinthe is actually a dangerous mind altering drink mean to destroy the artists, musicians and writers of the age. Can he unravel the members of the secret society bent on domination of humanity be destroying what makes it most human – the ability to create in the quest for truth, beauty, freedom and love?
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers?
The daily struggle to find love and live a loving life is the truest struggle, and the stories of the struggle for love are the deepest struggles in the world. Never stop searching for love, even if it takes you to the dangerous forest Brocéliande where sorcery and unicorns abound.
Thanks Walt, and best of luck with your novel. It certainly sounds like one I’ll enjoy!