Damien G Walter is a writer of weird and speculative fiction. His stories have been published in genre and literary publications including Electric Velocipede, Murky Depths, Serendipity, The Drabblecast, Pulp.net and Transmission and also broadcast on BBC Radio. In 2005 he was shortlisted for the Douglas Coupland short fiction contest, and more recently won a grant from Arts Council England to work on his first novel. He writes and reviews for The Guardian and IO9 among other venues. He attended the 2008 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy workshop at UC San Diego.
What was the last book you read?
Embassytown by China Mieville. It’s a weird book, in the most literal sense. A far future human colony amongst giant cockroach aliens who speak using human lives as metaphors. Strange. Very strange. But no one else can read it until May when it is officially published. Sorry.
Which book would you recommend to a younger version of you that hadn’t yet read it?
I think we find books when we are ready for them. I remember being forced to read Tomas Hardy when I was 13. I just thought he was depressing. I still think he is depressing, but now I understand why! That said I would have given my younger self a copy of Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It has a lot to say about love and loss that my younger self would have found useful.
What was the first book you remember having a big impact on you as a child?
The King Must Die by Mary Renault. It is the story of Theseus, retold with great historical accuracy, with bull dancing taking the place of the mythical minotaur. I grew up in a single parent family, and at its heart the book is about the relationship between a son and father. Its themes of loyalty and friendship had a tremendous effect on me. Great books are all about what moral values, and Renault’s writing had a tremendous effect on how I see the world.
Sitting in a shop window and being watched whilst writing is not the most orthodox working environment. Do you usually have a writing routine or can you work on the fly?
I currently write in the evenings at a library near where I live. I like to write in quiet but public places and find the studious atmosphere of the library is good for my concentration. I’m also at my best when I am up against a deadline, so I’m looking forward to the shop window!
When writing do you find your surroundings have an effect on what you write or do you focus solely on the page in front of you?
Surroundings can have a tremendous effect. Nearly all of my stories are set in places I know… sometimes places I have lived for many years, sometimes places I only experienced very briefly. But I usually write about places long after I have left them, rather than whilst sitting in them being stared at by shoppers. I do like to include people I know in stories, so might include one or two passing pedestrians if they catch my eye.
Damien will be appearing in the Waterstone’s County Mall window for WORDfest on Wednesday April 6th.