Let's Give Them Somebody To Talk About-Walt Mussell

We all know people who have worked hard writing, who have finished manuscripts, who have taken classes, joined groups and have diligently pursued this publishing avenue. And we all know they are about 2 seconds away from getting that first contract otherwise known as 'The Call.'

Today our Somebody is---------------------------

Walt Mussell

Walt has written an amazing novel titled The Samurai's Heart. I've had the pleasure of reading it, and let me just say it's an amazing journey!
(This is a respost of from the F.A.I.T.H. blog, but Walt is such a great guy and this book is so awesome, I wanted him over here as well!--and this feature was perfect!!)

Lindi: Tell us a little about your manuscript.

Walt: My manuscript is the first of a trilogy set in 16th century Japan. However, though there will be characters and a plot line that runs through all three books, a reader won’t need to have read one book to be able to understand the next one.

The first story, the one that won the Maggie, is called The Samurai’s Heart. The heroine, Sen Goami, returns to her hometown after ten years away. However, the homecoming is a sad one as it’s marred by the news of the deaths of her elder sister and her husband. As the remaining child, Sen must now find a man willing to marry into her family’s swordsmith business.

The hero, Nobuhiro Tokoda, is the prodigal third son of a high-level retainer at Himeji Castle. Born with a limp that made training to be a samurai impossible and faced with a harsh father, Nobuhiro leaves the castle and apprentices himself to a swordsmith, the heroine’s father. Through this honorable trade, Nobuhiro hopes to prove his worth to his father.

Nobuhiro would seem to be the ideal husband for Sen and her parents press the issue. However, during her time away, Sen became a Christian and seeks a Christian husband, a task made difficult as Christianity has been banned. For Nobuhiro, Christianity is dangerous as it caused the death of his best friend and would prevent any hope of reconciliation with his family.

Books 2 and 3, called The Samurai’s Soul and The Samurai’s Strength, take place in Osaka and Kyoto. Book 2 takes one of my favorite passages from Acts and places it in a Japanese context. Book 3 weaves two piece of Japanese history and addresses a “what if” question that fascinates me. I hope it all works.

Lindi: When did you first discover your love of history?

Walt: Elementary school. I read a lot of American history back then and begged my parents to take me to places like Williamsburg and Yorktown. As I got older, I became fascinated with British history and the Vikings. (I particularly like the Vikings. Why I don’t know?)

When I moved to Japan in the early 90s, I went more for business reasons and because I’d acquired an interest in Japan overall. However, I fell in love with the history of the country after I got there.

Lindi: What do you like best about writing? Creating characters or developing the plot?

Walt: Plot. Most definitely plot. As I mentioned above, my stories are meant to be independent of each other. However, my trilogy has a number of items and individuals (under fictional names) that should be recognizable to a Japanese person or a student of Japanese history and hopefully add depth to the plot. My story is written with the idea of being able to translate it into Japanese.

My love of plot may explain why the first agent who requested a full on my story (over two years ago), rejected it saying that the characters didn’t capture her as she would have hoped. I’ve spent a lot time since that day working on characters, deep POV, and trying to better bring my reader into the story. Haywood Smith taught me some techniques for trying to bring out my characters better and then reviewed my first attempts. Camy Tang has done some wonderful posts on deep POV over on the Seekerville blog and these have also been helpful. I’ve learned a lot.

Lindi: How does it feel to be the minority at the writing meetings? :)

Walt: Still weird at times, though my wife would tell you that I probably like it that way. Wonderful people have gone out of their way to make me feel comfortable at meetings. At the same time, there’s a reason why kids aren’t allowed at meetings. What goes on there is a serious conversation about writing and trying to improve one’s craft. Writers can be shy. However, when it comes to a craft discussion, writers are definitely blunt. (It’s the only way to improve.) At the same time, the discussion is primarily from a female POV. Consequently, there are days when I do get embarrassed.

Oddly, though, I wonder if I don’t kill the conversation at times. No one has ever made me feel unwelcome. But, there are certain topics that women don’t discuss in front of men. There must be days like that.

I know a couple of fun things about Walt I'd like to share. One--he is terribly funny. He keeps us in stitches at times at our meetings. And second, Walt just won the Maggie Award of Excellence for The Samurai's Heart. The prize is a beautiful medallion. Walt said his wife is going to try to make it unto a tie clip. That's awesome!!

Thanks, Walt!!

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