Coffee and Conversation with Sally M. Walker

Good morning, friends, it’s Friday..and not just any Friday. For many in our area this is the last day of school and the start of  summer.

It’s a pretty special day here in the Cyber Cafe as well, because we have the lovely Sally Walker visiting us. She will be on the faculty of our July conference Creating Sparks: Kindle the Fire of Imagination. Don’t forget to register!

Sally M. Walker is the author of more than 50 books for children. Her newest books are BLIZZARD OF GLASS, a 2012 ALA Notable Book, and FREEDOM SONG.

She was awarded the 2006 Robert F. Sibert Medal for SECRETS OF A CIVIL WAR SUBMARINE and her book WRITTEN IN BONE was a finalist for the 2010 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award. Please visit her online at

Welcome, Sally! We have your favorite coffeehouse beverage and snack waiting for you – a cup of “plain old coffee” and a bagel.

Now that you’re settled into the ever-so-comfy cyber chair, let’s get started!

First off, what were your favorite books as a child?
Walter Farley’s Black Stallion books and Nancy Drew Mysteries.

Loved them! I read plenty of both, especially The Black Stallion series. So, when did you decide to be a writer?

I thought about it when I was very young.  And told my high school guidance counselor it was what I wanted to be.  She told me it was unrealistic and to choose another goal.

Glad you didn’t listen to her! Where’s your favorite place to work?

I work in my office, which used to be my daughter’s bedroom.  It took three years after she had moved out for me to convert the room into an office.

How were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?

My upcoming book is THEIR SKELETONS SPEAK.  Since meeting Doug Owsley, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian, I’d heard a lot about the Paleoamerican skeletons he was studying.  After working with him on two previous books (SECRETS OF A CIVIL WAR SUBMARINE and WRITTEN IN BONE), it seemed a logical choice as well as a heartfelt one.  I love archaeology.

What is your favorite line(s) from this book?

After being immersed in the manuscript and layout for so very long, I’m thinking “Finis,” would be my choice.  And I didn’t even write that.  The designer added it.

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?

Before or after I spoke with my guidance counselor?  Before I did, I would be a children’s book author.  After I did, I majored in geology and archaeology.

For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want.  Who do you pick?

Thomas Jefferson, but mostly to find out the real story about Sally Hemmings.

You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal.  In what frivolous way would you spend it?

I’d go to a play at the Lifeline Theater in Chicago.  My husband and I love live theater.

Congratulations, Steven Spielberg is doing a movie based on your book. Woo-Hoo! Who would play the lead role and what songs would be on the soundtrack?

Johnny Depp would be the archaeologist who rediscovered the Hunley submarine (I’ve thought about this a lot.) and I’d go for some Civil War violin and pipes music.

Yes! An excuse to post a picture of Johnny Depp! Thank you!

Okay, back to Sally. If you could sum up your best advice for new writers in only four words, what would they be?

Keep your day job.  At least for now.

Time for the lightning round—no more than four words per answer!

Do you . . .

Outline or wing it? A mix.

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? Depends.

Sell by proposal or completed draft? Proposal

Prefer writing rough drafts or editing? Both

Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Hate it.

Read Kindle or traditional books? Never, never,  never Kindle

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Time to work? Morning

Music to listen to while writing? Don’t listen while working

Writing tool? computer

Pair of shoes? sneakers

Guiltiest pleasure? HGTV when in hotels.

Good choice! It’s one of the first channels I check when watching television.
Thanks for dropping by, Sally! Best of luck with your current releases and with the upcoming THEIR SKELETONS SPEAK.

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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3 Responses to Coffee and Conversation with Sally M. Walker

  1. What a lovely interview to start the morning. Sally Walker and the SCBWI MDDEWV team inspire me. I foresee some work getting done today.


    • susanmannix says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Teresa! I’m really looking forward to meeting Sally at the conference and hearing more from her. Glad you are inspired. Go ride that wave!

  2. Pingback: Coffee & Conversation with Christine Peterson! « As the Eraser Burns

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