Author Interview: Rick Walton


Rick Walton
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Lori: Rick, who are you as a person, versus an author?

Rick: My passion is creation. I love creating anything. The creation process just gets me excited, thrilled. It could be picture books, sure. That is what I do for a living of course. It could be crafts or new uses for something normal around the house, or forms of humor. I especially like to come up with innovative solutions to the world’s problems. Of course, nobody listens to them, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that 500 years from now people will look back and see that I was way ahead of my time. Either that or a raving lunatic.

Lori: Do you seek to educate or entertain?

Rick: Both. Primarily entertain, but I think it is important to improve the world with your writing in some way. And if you’re going to educate, you need to entertain also anyway.

Lori: Where do you write your best stuff, and when?

Rick: Anywhere, anytime. I don’t notice a specific place or time that works best for me. I’m always working on multiple projects. I play with them, work with them, sweat over them, day and night. I drop them for a while, come back to them, fit them into the nooks and crannies of my life. I wish I had a specific time when I worked best, when I turned off everything else and just focused on the writing, and then when the time was up turned off the writing and focused on everything else. But no, I have to be obsessed. So I’m working on everything all the time, which is sometimes annoying.

Lori: Why do you write?

Rick: Because of the thrill of creating something new, something that never existed before. Besides, I like words. I like playing with them, reading them, writing them, thinking about them, I’ve liked words since I was a young kid.

Lori: What do you read? Why?

Rick: I don’t read nearly as much as I should. I’m a workaholic, and if the book doesn’t have something to do with a project I’m working on, I can’t talk myself into taking the time to read it. I want to be able to read more, I want to be able to stop the responsible, task-oriented focus and kick back and enjoy a novel just for the sake of enjoyment. The last full novel I read, was The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which I thought was brilliant. Wouldn’t recommend it to a lot of people since it is so dark, but I loved the language, and I’m into post-apocalyptic fiction anyway.

Lori: Vanilla or chocolate?

Rick: Hmmmm, difficult. Chocolate for its own sake. Vanilla because you can mix anything into it and it tastes delicious. I love taking vanilla ice cream, mixing jam into it, throwing in some cashews, maybe some banana slices. But chocolate, just by itself, chocolate is perfect.

Lori: Laptop, PC, Mac, longhand, other?

Rick: I use a PC, but my primary method of writing now is sometimes in longhand, but mostly dictation. Why? Debilitation. I used to be able to type 120 words a minute, my fingers could fly and I could type faster than I could think. Those were the days. Then I took to voice recognition software, but I’m also developing incomprehensible speech (I should be a politician!). So now, I dictate a lot of my stuff, and hope that the people that transcribe it can understand me. Eventually I’m just going to have to go straight to a machine that can read my thoughts, though that could be dangerous.

Lori: What is your current book?

Rick: My next book is called Mr. President Goes to School. It is being illustrated by Brad Sneed. It is the story of a president who gets tired of dealing with the daily battles, and sneaks away to a place where he was once happy, kindergarten. He has a great day, then comes back to the White House where he uses what he learns to help deal with his problems. Kind of a cross between the movie Saving Grace, and Everything I Know About Life I Learned in Kindergarten. It’s coming out from Peachtree, my editor is the illustrious, highly talented, Carmen Agra Deedy. You should buy it begins you never know when you're going to become president, and when that happens, you'll need this book.

Lori: What's coming up?

Rick: Besides, Mr. President Goes to School, I have another political book, sort of, How to Create Your Own Country being published by Bloomsbury. I also have another book called Baby’s First, coming out from Putnam.

I would love to publish two types of things that might seem opposite. They probably are. One would be bizarre silly collections of strange humor. I have a couple such manuscripts making the rounds--The Big Silly Kitty Book, and How to Deal with Clown Bites and 100 Other Life Skills Every Kid Should Know. On the other hand, I would also like to do books that help save the planet. I have some ideas on those.

Lori: One piece of advice/wisdom for the world?

Rick: Talk, don’t fight. Try to understand before you get angry. Contention is ruining the planet, the country, relationships, and often your ability to get published. Assume the best in others, you’ll seldom be wrong.

Lori: Dogs or cats?

Rick: I think the perfect pet would be a combination of both. Cats are there, not too demanding, soft, warm, relaxing. Dogs treat you like you’re the most important person on the planet. I like my pets, and my friends, a combination of both.

Lori: What do you want to be remembered for, or as?

Rick: Interesting question. Oddly enough, I don’t care about being remembered for my writing. I want to be remembered for having made the world a better place, and for having helped others achieve their goals and become better people. I just want the world to have been a better place because I was here.

Oh yeah, and I want to be remembered as the master of stick worm art.


L.T. Elliot said...

That President book sounds just darling! Great interview! I've got to pass this along to some friends. =]

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I've heard Rick lecture. He does a great job. Nice to get a little more insight. Thanks for the great post!

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Great interview! I enjoyed getting to know Rick better.

And thank you for agreeing to review my book "Summer in Paris." I really appreicate it!

Lori Nawyn said...

Thanks, Laura and Kathi. Rick is all around wonderful guy. I have a great deal of respect for him. Michele, I am so excited to read the book I can hardly wait!

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