I'd like to welcome David Walton to the blog. Read on to find out why I'm convinced he must have a time machine or a clone stashed somewhere in order to accomplish so much.
What are you working on right now?
My second novel, Quintessence, is coming out from Tor this March. I'm about 70% through writing the sequel, which is provisionally titled Quintessence Star. I’m pleased by the way it’s coming together. I think fans of Quintessence will find it enough like the original to feel like they’re returning to the same world, but there are a lot of new mysteries and plot elements that make it a fresh new book, not just a reboot of the first one. I’ve also recently finished a new science fiction novel called Superposition, a quantum physics murder mystery with a lot of fun plot twists along the lines of movies like Inception and The Prestige.
What's your pre-writing ritual?
Besides a full-time job writing software, I have six children and a seventh on the way. I don't have time for ritual! My writing opportunities come in small increments, and I never know when they'll be interrupted by a crying baby, a young child who needs help getting a snack, or an older child asking about homework. I've learned to take what I can get and make the most use of the time available for putting words to the page. Before I had kids, I had a LOT of time to write, but I was much less productive with it. Now I have less time, but I feel like I'm a better writer.
What is one of the most surprising/interesting things you've discovered while doing research for a story?
I discovered that, contrary to popular myth, few people in Columbus's day actually thought the Earth was flat. In Quintessence, therefore, I turned the truth upside-down: in the novel, although the traditional belief is in a round Earth, the Earth is truly flat, and it is quite possible to sail off the end of it. At the very edge of this flat Earth, where the sky reaches so low to nearly touch the ground, the influence of the stars is so great that the normal rules of nature no longer apply...
Tell me about your favorite story that you've published. What inspired it, and what does it mean to you?
I tend to be most pleased with what I've written recently. Those stories are, after all, inspired by my most recent thoughts and experiences. I've published around 20 short stories, but it's been a few years since I've written any, since I've been focusing on novels. So I'd have to say my favorite of my published stories is Quintessence (at least, it's very nearly published). Quintessence was partly born from my own struggles reconciling my religious upbringing with my love of science. The characters in the novel live in the sixteenth century, when religion was still a central part of life and culture, but an experimental approach to science was just beginning. They encounter a very different science than exists in our world, but the challenges to their core beliefs are just as unsettling.
You can have lunch with any writer, living or dead. Who would it be, and why?
Orson Scott Card. He's still alive, so it's possible, right? His writing was one of the first reasons I became a writer myself, and I've benefitted greatly from his books on writing. He was a judge in a contest that led to my first professionally-published story ("All The Rage This Year", on which the world of my first novel, Terminal Mind, was based). I only met him once, briefly, at a book signing. I still enjoy his fiction; I'm currently reading Ruins.
What's one of the best novels and/or short stories you've read recently?
Children of the Sky, by Vernor Vinge, and its predecessor, The Fire in the Deep, which include one of the most fascinating alien species I've ever encountered.
Writing is a sedentary endeavor. What do you do to stay healthy and active?
Not as much as I probably should. My day job is a sedentary one, too, which makes it worse. We do like taking five mile walks as a family, when the weather is nice, but in the winter, we get very little exercise.
David is the author of the Philip K. Dick award-winning novel Terminal Mind. He lives near Philadelphia with his wife and six children, where he works as a software engineer for Lockheed Martin. He also plays jazz piano and invents puzzles and brain teasers. If you want to know more, you can visit his website at http://www.davidwaltonfiction.com .