RED MOUNTAIN in eastern Washington is home to a community of eccentrics. Otis Till, the area’s visionary winemaker, has been known to howl at the moon–fully nude. Single mother Margot Pierce moved across the country to build an inn, but so far all she does is binge on gelato, the Hallmark Channel, and fantasies of murdering her ex. High school senior Emilia Forester, daughter of celebrity parents, is struggling to build her own life outside of their shadow. And Brooks Baker is a man haunted by his past spent living on the streets as an orphan. Somehow, everyone lives together harmoniously, their lives intertwined like the vines in Red Mountain’s beautiful and renowned vineyards in the novel by Boo Walker, narrated with the resonate voice and acting skill of Armen Taylor.
Jonathan Lowe) You’ve always wanted to write, but you’re involved in the winery business. Did you start with articles or fiction?
Boo Walker) I used to play music in Nashville for a living with a band called the Biscuit Boys. My first taste of the creative process and putting words together was writing songs. When I left that career, I had to fill the void. Being a voracious reader, I always wanted to try my hand writing fiction. So I went from songs to full-length fiction.
JL) Anything happen at the winery itself that could be described as “mysterious” or “suspenseful?”
BW) There’s always things that happen at the winery with a sense of suspense or mystery. Our winemaker was nearly killed by the press one year. A year before that, someone stole our neighbor’s grapes, picking them at midnight during harvest. I’ve seen wars waged between humans that may not resolve themselves for generations. Eastern Washington is desert country, the wild west. We have coyotes that will track you, we have badgers that will maul you, and we have rattlesnakes that linger in the grass. Even though Red Mountain is a tiny blip on the map, the potential stories are endless!
JL) Drinking a bit helped me with live interviews, and many writers have been aided by wine in loosening up the free flow of ideas. Red or white for this?
BW) Ha! The best interviews always begin with a glass of white. But I have a steadfast rule… no drinking while writing. Even Hemingway stuck to that.
TR) Favorite authors? Influences?
BW) My favorite author for many years has been Pat Conroy. We share pasts in Charleston together. If I could emulate one writer, it would be him. But I read Plum Island by Nelson Demille while traveling through Ireland after high school, and it gave me the thirst. I was in Waterville on the west coast, and I remember thinking that I had to write a book. Not that I could or should, but that I had to. So I owe him a lot. My favorite book right now though, one that has utterly blown me away, is A Gentleman in Moscow. I’ve never felt so motivated as a writer. Amor Towles puts words together in ways that make my eyes water. The way his mind works is pure art and genius. And most importantly, he’s reminded me to be free in my writing. I don’t need to subscribe to any particular way of doing things. I need to write from the heart and let my voice shine.
TR) Your wine is carried at Whole Foods, bought by Amazon. Some of your characters are in wineries, too. Ever thought about sending a case to Jeff Bezos? He might buy movie rights.
BW) I love the idea of sending wine to Bezos! I sent him an email one time; he never responded. Perhaps a box of wine would do the trick!
TR) Hobbies? What’s next for you?
BW) I’m halfway way through the sequel to Red Mountain. Once that’s wrapped up, I’ll be writing a few books from my new home in St. Pete, Florida. After many years in Washington, my wife and I decided to take a new adventure. So I’m getting out and about in St. Pete, learning the history, the culture, the people. And then I’m going to throw it all in a blender and see what kind of fiction comes out. I always tell my new friends that they better be careful what they tell me, because I’m always looking for new material. Other than writing, I still play some music and absolutely thrilled to be buying my son his first guitar this Christmas. My newest hobby will be teaching him everything I know!
News: I was privileged to be one of the judges in the VoiceArts awards this year, held in New York City at Lincoln Center. All areas of voiceover are judged, but a few of the winners related to books this year include: Scott Brick in Crime & Thriller and Fiction categories for Dead City and The Last Tribe, respectively. Sneha Mathan and Jeff Wilburn for Classics, The God of Small Things and Moonlight, respectively. Simon Vance for Fantasy, The Wolf of the North. Lisa Flanagan for Mystery, The Unseen World. John Malone for Science Fiction, Dredging Up Memories. Ed Asner and cast for Storytelling, Powder Burns. Adam Verner for Teens, York: The Shadow Cipher. Neil deGrasse Tyson for Author Performance, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Andi Arndt & Zachary Webber for Romance, The Hot One. Brian Blessed for Inspirational, The Cat of Bubastes. R.C. Bray for Short Story Anthology, Diary of an Asscan. January LaVoy for Non-Fiction, Bette & Joan: The Devine Feud. Nicholas Guy Smith for Biography, Notes on Blindness. Malcolm Hillgartner for History, Dunkirk: The Complete Story of the First Step in the Defeat of Hitler. Zak George for Self Help, Dog Training Revolution. Will Damron, Metaphysical, Satan’s Harvest. Joe Barrett, Humor, A Really Big Lunch. Also, the audiobook version of my novel Postmarked for Death is now being recorded by an actor who has done both films and commercials, for release in January. I’ll be performing the voice the killer! It is now available in eBook and paperback format.