Robert Walton, an IN THE AIR Author Interview


On the verge of a new anthology, we are celebrating IN THE AIR with a behind the scenes view of authors and their stories. Here’s a look at Robert Walton and his story “Aeolian Variations.”



Tell me a little about your story and the world you’ve created.

I’m from Long Beach, so L.A. was the gravitational center of my early universe. Its ongoing, bubbling chaos offers both hope and dismay at our various possible futures. Whatever they turn out to be, L.A. will get there first.

What came first, the plot or the characters?

Characters came first. Plot possibilities always depend on them—at least for me.

If you had to describe your protagonist in three words, what would they be?

Teen genius unappreciated

What is something about your protagonist that only you know?

He’s better than even he thinks he is.

Which scene was the most difficult to write and why?

The ending was hard. I can riff on floating skyscrapers all day, but pulling things together without being trite is tough.

What were you trying to achieve with this story?

We’re all capable of a great deal more than we think we are. I hoped to poke folks in that direction.




What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a rock climber and mountaineer and have been for forty years. One hour in Tuolumne Meadows is better than two weeks in San Jose or a year in Bakersfield.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your stories?

People like to read about characters who end up treating each other decently.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story brings the great workings of the universe into clearer focus.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a schoolteacher. Made it.

What is your favorite writing tool or technique?

I try to involve three (at least!) senses in every scene I write. Lavender to meatballs to bells – nothing gets readers next to you like sensory images.

How would you describe your general writing voice and tone?


Share something fun or interesting:


Here’s a link to the story behind this bruin photo:



48416177_2008938705839504_8094266344947580928_nRobert Walton is a retired middle school teacher and lifelong rock climber with many ascents in the Sierras and Pinnacles National Park. His writing about climbing has appeared in the Sierra Club’s Ascent. His publishing credits include works of science fiction, fantasy and poetry. He also worked as a newspaper columnist for a time.His historical novel Dawn Drums won the 2014 New Mexico Book Awards Tony Hillerman Prize for best fiction, first place in the 2014 Arizona Authors competition and first place in the historical fiction category of the 2017 Readers Choice Awards. Most recently, his “Do you feel lucky, Punk?” received a prize in the Bartleby Snopes 2018 dialog only contest.


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