Pen Names Geoffrey Caine, Evan Kingsbury, and Stephen Robertson
- Darkness Chasing Light (2015)
- Chesapeake 1880 (2014) with Ken Rossignol
- Dead On (2009)
- Dead On Writing (nonfiction)
- Dr. O
- Cuba Blue: Murder, Mayhem, and Romance in Havana (with Lyn Polkabla)
- Children of Salem: Love Amid the Witch Trials
- Burning Obsession
- Dying Breath
- Razors Edge
- Blood Tells
- Blood Ties
- The Handyman
- Daniel Webster Jackson and the Wrongway Train
- Brain Watch
- Abaddon: Salem’s Child
- Dead Man’s Float
- Brain Stem
- Thrice Told Tales
The Instinct Series
- The Fear Collectors (2014) with Diane Jarrison
- The Edge of Instinct (2013) with Stephen R. Walker
- Killer Instinct (2012)
- Absolute Instinct (2004)
- Grave Instinct (2003)
- Bitter Instinct (2001)
- Unnatural Instinct (2001)
- Blind Instinct (2000)
- Darkest Instinct (1996)
- Pure Instinct (1995)
- Primal Instinct (1994)
- Extreme Instinct
- Fatal Instinct
Marsha & Danny Jones Thriller Series
- Beheaded: Terror by Land, Sea, and Air (2015) with Ken Rossignol
- The Privateer Clause (2013) with Ken Rossignol
Psychic Sensory Investigation
- Deja Blue
- PSI: Blue: Case Files of Rae Murphy Hiyakawa
- Cutting Edge (2010)
- Final Edge (2004)
- Double Edge (1998)
- Cold Edge
Chesapeake Crime Confidential
- Coke Air (2014) with Ken Rossignol
Dean Grant, Chicago ME Series
- Floaters (2010)
- Dying Breath
- Front Burners
Alistair Ransom Series
- Titanic 2012: Curse of TMS Titanic (2010)
- City of the Absent
- Shadows in the White City (2007)
- City for Ransom (2005)
- Blood Seers
- Wind Slayers
- Hunting Lure
Love Amid the Ruins Series
- Annie’s War
The Bloodscreams Series
- SubterraneanS (2015)
- Bayou Wulf: Archaeology vs. Supernatural (2011) with Stephen Walker
- Vampire Dreams
- Zombie Eyes
- Werewolf’s Grief
Under Pen Name Evan Kinsgbury
- Fire and Flesh (2002)
Under Pen Name Geoffrey Caine
- Curse of the Vampire (1991)
- Wake of the Werewolf (1991)
- Legion of the Dead (1992)
by Zach Durning (SHS)
Mississippi-born Robert Wayne Walker has written more than thirty-six novels to date. He was born in Corinth, Mississippi, on November 17, 1948, to Richard Walker and Janie McEachern Walker. At the age of five, Robert moved with his family to Chicago, Illinois, because his father was in the military (Walker). Walker graduated from Wells High School. After graduating from high school, he attended and graduated from Northwestern University.
Walker writes many genres of books. Some genres he writes are mystery, crime, horror, romance/historical fiction, children’s fiction, history, and information science fiction. He writes many series including the Edge (featuring Texas Cherokee tracker Lucas Stonecoat and forensic psychiatrist Meredyth Sanger) and the Instinct series (featuring FBI pathologist Dr. Jessica Coran). Also, he writes under four other pen names besides his own, including Geoffrey Caine, Evan Kingsbury, Glenn Hale, and Stephen Robertson.
Today Walker lives in Chicago, Illinois, and is a full time writer. Occasionally, he lectures and teaches. He is married to Cheryl Ann Ernst. He also has one son named Stephen Walker, who wrote the poems used in the book Bitter Instinct.
A Review of Bitter Instinct
by Zach Durning (SHS)
Bitter Instinct is a creepy and eerie novel by the talented author Robert W. Walker. Bitter Instinct is one of the many in the Instinct series. Walker, who writes several different series under different pen names, is sure to be around for a while. The Midwest Book Review says of Bitter Instinct, “Frightening… combines the best of Cornwell with Koontz.”
Because of the book’s many interesting details and its intricate plot, the reader will have trouble putting it down.
Bitter Instinct is about FBI Medical Examiner, Dr. Jessica Coran, who is the detective and medical examiner that has solved other cases in the Instinct series. When bodies begin to appear in Philadelphia, Dr. Coran is on another case. To her horror, she soon realizes that the killer, nicknamed the poet by local newspapers, has a deadly signature and the Poet’s paper is flesh. With fingers pointing in many different directions, Dr. Coran must sort through the evidence before the Poet can make his final mark.
Walker has a suspenseful style. He keeps the reader guessing until the last page. His writing makes the reader feel as if he is on the case himself with Dr. Coran. The reader sees only what Dr. Coran sees and knows only what she knows, which makes it more suspenseful. Walker gives the reader a variety of suspects that will keep the reader asking, “Is he the killer?”
I thought this novel was awesome. Not only did I not want to put the book down, I now anticipate the arrival of the next in the series. Walker uses many vivid details to describe each crime scene. Walker’s writing isn’t boring either. He always gives an exciting event or milestone to put the reader back on the edge of his seat.
Walker uses many different settings in his work. In Bitter Instinct he places the action in Philadelphia. Another of his works, Primal Instinct, is set in Hawaii. Pure Instinct is set in New Orleans. Through each of his works, he always gives the reader a new surrounding.
To me this book is magnificent. Walker’s writing contains grappling hooks that will catch anyone who reads it. Some things that the reader could find offensive are the vivid descriptions of the crime scenes and some uses of profanity, but this novel is one that all suspense lovers should read. The reader won’t regret it.
by Zach Durning (SHS)
Dear Mr. Walker:
These are a few interview questions I need to ask for a school project on you. If you would take time out to answer these I would most appreciate it.
First, at what time did you know that you wanted to write? Was there anything in particular that got you interested in writing?
I began writing at age twelve, dabbling in song writing and soon realizing I did much better with short stories. I began by “stealing” stories from such great TV shows as Twilight Zone and before that One Step BEYOND. You learn any art by first imitating the “masters” and finding out if you can do what others do, and pretty soon you begin to use your own ideas instead of ripping them off. If you stay with it long enough, that is.
As to the second part of the question, I saw my name roll by on TV screens every time the TV show Rin Tin-tin (a western about a dog) was on because the writer’s name was Robert Walker, and there was an actor famous at the time name Robert Walker, and I wanted a piece of that fame, I guess. But I also had a Cherokee uncle who told fantastic stories right off the top of his head, and he influenced me greatly, seeing him make people laugh, cry, shiver, and more. That seemed like a great kind of power to have, to, you know, entertain and please people. And SCARE them!
How difficult was it to get your first book published? How did you go about it?
Most people don’t get their first book published; most writers sell the third, fourth or even sixth one first, having worked that hard on previous books to learn how to write really well before a publisher falls in love with their writing, and then people think “Wow and great toad sweat, look at this guy a success overnight!” But nothing is further from the truth. My first ever novel written while inWells High School in Chicago was begun while in Screven HighSchool, Screven, Georgia in my sophomore year, finished in my junior year and later rewritten many times. I wrote five young adult novels that did not sell until many years later, and some still are not sold. The first novel published was Sub-Zero, about a new Ice Age overrunning Chicago and wiping people out in the “future” of 2010. It was published in 1979, so 2010 seemed like science fiction at the time! Seventeen years it took to sell my First Written novel, the high school one that was my “sequel” to Huck Finn, Daniel & The Wrongway Railway. So you see it leap frogs these things.
Second part of this question well…I decided to write one for fun only, to have total fun with it, and really to poke fun at the men’s adventure, sci-fi, disaster flick type books and films everyone seemed to be doing, so I did the Ice Age disaster book, with tongue in cheek, saying since I had shoveled so much snow, and since I was reading about so many cold-related winter deaths all across the mid-west that year–1978 (big blizzards and lots of snow to shovel) I kind of laughingly said I’ll do what the teachers always say and write about what I know about–SNOW and snow shoveling and freezing my butt off. This more light-hearted approach made the writing faster, more fun, and it sold to the first place I sent it to because they liked the “fun” aspect of the murder mystery science fiction thriller (someone was trying to kill the weathermen!) Leisure Books bought it and my next three or four books afterwards before I got an agent. I had picked Leisure Bks. out of the bible for selling fiction, The Writer’s Market. But it took me years and years of writing many books to begin to sell my first book, and this is common in the business.
Is Bitter Instinct, even though fiction, based on your life in any way? Did you base the characters in Bitter Instinct on people you know or knew?
Bitter as with all my books is based on research, often research from books and nowadays online research but also going to places and soaking up what the place is like. I’d been to Philadelphia three times, and I loved whacky and exciting 2nd Avenue depicted in the book, so yeah, a lot of myself in the book, and as it says in the acknowledgments, I literally wrote this Instinct book “around” a stack of poetry my son finally let me see and read. I asked him if he had any problem with me writing one of my suspense thrillers using his poems as those of the killer’s. He loved the idea. In Killer Instinct, the first book, I use one of my son’s best friends, Matthew Matisak as the name of the horrible blood-drinking serial killer who manages to stay alive over 4 books, and I’ve just found a way to kind of/sort of bring him “back” in the 11th and what will be the last book in the series, even though Mad Matthew Matisak is dead and can’t really come back in person…I find a way to make it happen. So in that sense, yeah to your second part of this question, I do pattern characters on people I have encountered a great deal, but my brutal killers are composites of a lot of reading instead. I have never sat down with a real life Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy, nor do I want to. I can read about them in FBI bulletins and published books. A lot of my minor characters and even Jessica are made up of parts of myself but also parts of others I have known and found interesting, clever, funny, or fascinating. Many of my good guy characters, like Jessica, are also composites–that is, they are created from a number of people at once.
Do you have a favorite author or authors?
Yes, I have many favorite authors indeed, perhaps too many to list. All good writers start out as avid readers who devour everything from comic books to Edgar Allan Poe and work their way up to Alexander Dumas, Nathaniel Hawthorn’s Twice Told Tales, and on to my favorite writer of all time Shakespeare and Mark Twain for sheer style and imagery, but for great horror I go to Richard Matheson and Robert Blotch. Others who have had great influence on me are Dean Chintz. Martin Cruz Smith, a nonfiction author named Thomas Thomasand even Stephen King’s early books. Then there’s F PaulWills, and we can’t forget Ray Brad bury and Rod Serling. Right now I am reading a new writer and a good friend of mine, Joe Konrath (joekonrath.com).
What author has influenced you the most?
Do I have to narrow it down to one? Gee…so many. If one, it must be MARK TWAIN since my first novel was in emulation–copying and stealing from him both his style and even his setting, Hannibal, Missouri. Twain’s Huckleberry Finn inspired my first novel which got me into college. I got into college riding on a manuscript, and I was given a green light to write a novelfor my Master’s dissertation, so a novel also got me out of college! All thanks to Mr. Mark Twain (Samuel L .Clemens). Following him…Hawthorne, Dumas, Victor Hugo, Shakespeare, and more recent Dean R. Koontz in that order.
Why did you decide to write about crime and serial killers in the Instinct Series? How long did it take you to write Bitter Instinct? Where did the idea for this book come from?
You have 3 questions here. I was writing horror novels, some fifteen horror and occult novels when I got advice from Dean R. Koontz to move into more mainstream “scary” stuff like police stories and “reality-based” horror, so I simply turned my monsters into serial killers and my serial killers into monsters and it worked like a charm. I got the idea for a female FBI Medical Examiner BEFORE Silence of the Lambs ever came out. And Jessica who is so much like Scully in X-Files was born BEFORE the TV show ever aired.
Bitter Instinct took me, as with all the 11 Instinct books, between one and two years to write if you count researching as part of the writing, and re-writes, and all the waiting for your editor to make changes and ask you to make changes, and even when it is all finished, it takes 9 months to see it printed (like having a baby!). That answers two parts of your question. Now for the third: Already answered this–my son’s poetry gave me the idea for a killer with a Byron complex.
What kind of student were you in high school?
Whoa, boy…now you’re gettin’ personal. All right. I was a very involved, popular, go-to-guy but with a smart-assed attitude when it came to authority and this got me into trouble at times. I once wrote for my High School English teacher a “how to” process paper on “how to teach a senior English class”–that’s how smart-assed I was, and arrogant…arrogant enough to think I could write a book not found anywhere on any library shelf–the sequel to Huck Finn (this was before Twain’s really bad “Huck and Tom” go out West long short story was discovered and came to light.
I call what I had the good kind of positive arrogance anyone needs to succeed as an entertainer, artist, sculptor, or writer, or photographer, or any type of artist. I tried to be on too many clubs and team sports and write for the school newspaper at the same time and learned to scale back, but became so popular I was voted class president in both my junior year and senior year of high school. But my grades were only fair, as I had made up my own reading list and read everything I could get my hands on by my favorite authors while still keeping up with my “normal” school work like biology and geometry, chemistry and Bookkeeping for Idiots. I got into trouble a lot, but I could talk my way out of a detention and usually a fight. I used humor all the time to break the tension and “save” myself, and I always had a huge “body guard” friend who did not charge me for his services but who I helped out with on homework, etc. I was well liked by the girls, too.
Wish I could go back to high school with what I know now like in Peggy Sue Got Married, but my return would be Rob Walker Got Sense…
Our high school in Chicago had bars on the windows and gates around the outer perimeter, and the teachers were like the guards, and the principal was like a prison warden and the place was called Wells…so I always joked it was H.G.WellsTwilightZoneHigh School.
Are you currently working on a new book? What is it called? Do you have a title for it yet? When will it be published? What is it about?
I am always working on a new book. This year alone I have 4 books coming out, two already out, and two to come in the Fall. One as Evan Kingsbury called Fire & Flesh came out in January. Bitter Instinct came out in paperback (was hardcover) in April. Grave Instinct is due out in September as a new hardcover, while Unnatural Instinct is being released in August as paperback (was hardcover). Next April the 4th and last in my Edge Series of books, called Final Edge comes out, and it too has already been written. Grave Instinct is about a madman who is stealing people’s brains as if they didn’t already have problems…LOL. Unnatural Instinct is about a guy seeking revenge for the execution of his son by a Texas judge to whom he ties his son’s decaying body in order to “decay” the female judge to death via his son’s rotting corpse. Jessica has to find the judge within days or she dies. so the clock is really ticking like it was in Blind Instinct about a cult that crucified people for the new millennium.
Right now I am writing the 11th and last Instinct book called Absolute Instinct (I hope the title remains this but can’t promise it won’t be changed). What’s it about? A maniac artist who rips people’s spines out to not only feed on black spinal fluid and bone marrow, but he uses the backbones in his sculpted artworks.
Yyykkks! Yes, sometimes I do scare myself, but somehow I sleep like a baby.
What type of awards have you received?
Glad you asked. My books have won publication in Japan in a big way–all the Instinct and Edge books. Many have been published in England as well. My Unnatural Instinct won the coveted Reader’s Choice Award for Suspense from the Love is Murder Chicago Conference (see attached photo). And my Evan Kingsbury title Fire & Flesh has become a Bram Stoker Horror Writers of America recommended read, on its way to a possible Bram Stoker award nomination and win (fingers crossed) for horror novels published in 2003. Some years back, I won two awards from the Florida State Writing Competition for Short Story and chapter in a nonfiction book manuscript.
How has Mississippi or living in Mississippi influenced your writing?
I HAVE NEVER ACTUALLY LIVED IN MISSISSIPPI that I can remember. I was born in Corinth, Mississippi, and removed at tender age of five when my veteran of WWII father moved family of five children to Chicago in search of work. My dad grew up in Mississippi, and so it is in the genes, and I love Mississippi music and food to prove it. I’m a major fan of William Faulkner, and he was a great influence. I did live for several years in Georgia, which counts a little, right? As to Chicago’s influence on my writing, it’s huge. A displaced southerner in a Yankee city where you have to know where to go if you want to hear country music. My favorite movie is Oh Brother Where Art Thou.
Do you have any advice for future writers?
Write to your opposite. Don’t write about yourself but instead create characters that are extremely different than yourself who live in other towns, cities, countries and may be another gender or race or religion. And by all means set a schedule and treat it like a job. Even if it is only a few hours a week, be consistent as you would with an exercise regimen if you want to exercise your brain and writing fingers. In order to get a scene underway and started, begin with a character’s hands, what are his/her hands doing, what are they IN? Pull back and tell me what he/she is doing with the rest of the body…what space is it taking up (setting an airplane seat? a garage? under a car?) and quickly tell me his/her name, work in some idea of his/her age, and quickly now something about his/her career or job or title.
Read closely any one of my openings with a new character and you will see this happening along with a reliance on lots of names of people, places, things–nouns are names–things that get capitalized are very, very good signposts for the reader to latch onto and know where he is and why, and numbers! Cool Kodak moments–photographs like nouns! A number is as specific as it gets and it is a snapshot. Use as many numbers as is good common sense to do so as in ages, time of day, addresses, etc. Names and numbers fill the pages of my books because I will always choose a name over a no-name. So a lake in my story is Lake Dora, a river is The Susquahanna, a fork in a road where a lot of kids at Jesup High School have died is Three-Forks (name and number all in one).
“Can’t get no mo’ specific’ndat,” says Professor Walker.
Do you have any advice for students today?
Search for and discover the gift you either possess and are meant to share in this life and pursue it. Talent is a dangerously useless word. Talent only comes out of long years of preparation, practice, and experience in your chosen field. If you are not present for the learning time, you will not know it when the discovery (of talent or your gift) appears. This occurs at all ages in life only when as the old adage says, “The master (teacher) will appear only when the student is ready.” I am a successful writer only because I am a lifelong learner.
Did you base the characters in Bitter Instinct on people you know or knew?
With the poet writing poems provided by my son, in a sense DAH, YEAH as they say. Not being mean here, but sure, people you know filter into your fiction, usually as composites–various people and their traits filter in to create a unique character that is not strictly that person but may have attributes or traits similar. The killer in Bitter is not my son, who is a gentle, caring person, but the pained, hurt portion of him that has the Byron complex feel is my son to a certain degree. My son is not going about killing people or contemplating suicide, but I fear he does wear his heart on his sleeve at times and is vulnerable to being hurt in this world as he–like myself–wants to believe the best in people and this can get your teeth caved in, but for some of us, it’s the only way to get by in this strange, strange world.
At bottom, as horrendous as some of my villains are and violence is, I have an innate sense that mankind is stumbling awkwardly out of the dark madness of our caveman ancestors, but man, it will take eons of evolution to evolve into the race of beings my son Stephen would like to see us become.
Imagine like John Lennon…imagine a world without war and murder and anger and hatred and prejudice and terror (I’d have to be writing it as fantasy then and no one would believe it and I’d starve to death). Yes, I do use people but generally not the whole person, and few people ever, ever recognize the right character. Almost everyone wants to be Jessica, but not everyone I know is. A childhood friend of my son’s wanted me to use his full name as a maniac killer and I did, and he is Mad Matthew Matisak who carried on for the first four books of the Instinct series, but the real Matt is a great kid who loves to point to his name in my books.
How do you choose your pen names?
I try to use names that are meaningful to me. Easy one– Stephen Robertson (Robert’s son, Stephen). Evan Kingsbury is so I can be put on the bookstore shelves between best-selling authors King and Koontz. Geoffrey Caine was intentionally attempting to sound like a U.K.–British fellow breaking into horror in U.S
Glenn Hale…hmmm. I couldn’t think of anything better at the time, but I always liked actor Glenn Ford, and Hale is a name I liked in my research of Salem Witchcraft for two books I’ve done.
What does the Instinct in all of your titles mean?
It has what we call double-entendre (French for double intention or meaning) It could be taken to mean Jess’s instincts are killer and that’s fine, or it could be taken as the Killer has great instincts. Once the publisher decided to go with Killer Instinct, they pushed each book for name recognition so that I have had to come up with all these two-word Instinct titles, and have tried to continue the Double-Intent of each title.
The list goes Killer, Fatal, Primal, Pure, Darkest, Extreme, Blind, Bitter, Unnatural, Grave (due out August) , and the one in my computer now, Absolute–11 in all. The Edge series we did the same with. Cutting Edge, Double Edge, Cold Edge, and out next April, Final Edge–4 in all.
What is your current location and occupation?
I currently reside where I grew up in Chicago, Illinois. I am a full-time writer now and currently that is all I do, although I occasionally teach and lecture, and I am on the Board of Directors of the Love Is Murder Readers & Writers Conference, a member of Twilight Tales Horror Reading Group, a member of Horror Writers of America, and a Member of Mystery Writers of America.
Where did you go to high school?
I graduated from Wells High School.
I have a web site where all my bio is at along with message board and info on the books: authorsden.com but I am soon having RobertwWalker.com a MORGUE! up and running say in a week or two.
OK, All done, and thanks, Zach, for your interest. Now you have to locate a copy of another instinct or edge title and keep reading!
Rob Walker (LoveIsMurder.com)
- Robert W. Walker’s own website can be found here.
- Discover all the titles of books by writer Robert W. Walker (includes books written using pen names as well).
- Biographical information on Robert W. Walker
- Reviews of numerous books by Walker on Bookcrossing.com.
- Walker, Robert. Bitter Instinct. Jove Books. New York, 2001.
- Walker, Robert. E-mail Interview. 8 May 2003.
- . E-mail Interview.10 May 2003.
- . E-mail Interview.12 May 2003
- “Robert Walker.” Authors Den. 2002. 8 May 2003. <http://authorsden.com/robertwwalker>.
- “Robert W. Walker.” The Zack Company. 2001. 8 May 2003. <http://www.zackcompany.com/authors/robertwalker.htm>