Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Two-on-Two Interview of Crime Fiction Couple
Robert W. & Miranda Phillips Walker by Kaye Barley

I, Kaye Barley, being of sound mind and body, caught up with Robert W. Walker and wife Miranda Phillips Walker in Kill Devil Hills, NC in a shady, seedy dark dive that specialized in exotic drinks and an ocean breeze, as the bar amounted to a garage door that opened and closed on the sea. You know the type of place where seagulls and pelicans pick apart the leavings from your table? Where paper towels stand in for napkins? Where tattooed servers look like meth heads? The Walkers were doing research, and it was the only time I could see them for an interview before they left NC. I found them in a jolly, receptive mood here at Buck’s Gunshop and Oyster Bar.

My initial question broke the ice as I sat across the picnic bench from the infamous crime writing duo, asking, “So how have you two managed to only kill off fictional characters with two crime novelists under one roof?” Rob, whose latest is Dead On, Five Star Books and Miranda's latest and first is The Well Meaning Killer from Krill Press, turned to one another and smiled wide.

Rob sardonically replied, “Both our books are enjoying rave reviews. No reason for any ahhh…in-house bloodshed, right dear?”

Miranda nodded appreciatively. “The wonder is that the dogs in both our books also managed to survive.”

I asked, “I understand your son, Stephen, did the artwork and cover design for Dead On, and it
is a fantastic cover.

Rob perked up at this. “The kid’s got his own graphic arts biz, and he’s a genius at it. How many publishers do you know who go with a cover designed by the author’s son?”

Miranda smiled proudly. “Stephen’s helped us with promotion material and business cards as well. It’s all in the family. And while my cover art is not designed by Stephen, it’s pretty hot, too!”

Recording the answers, I next asked, “What’re you two hoping to find here in the Outer Banks? I understand you’re doing research for your next book?”

Miranda shouted, “Oh, oh—this one’s for me. My sequel to The Well Meaning Killer is set here, and while we’ve visited the area before, Rob says there’s nothing like firsthand research for a book—especially if I’m footing the hotel bill.”

Rob leapt in with, “She’s seriously researching, and I’m seriously on R&R—came for the beach, the sun, surf, Buck’s Oysters, the Wright Brothers museum, the nightlife. But I think a setting with the name Kill Devil Hills in itself tells a reader to be on the look-out.”

“I see, so this will be a continuation of Megan McKenna’s FBI casework, eh?” I asked.

“That’s right, and I bring on some new characters to kill off! Bringing back some characters, who didn’t die in The Well Meaning Killer.”

Rob piped in with, “I think only Max, the dog, survived that last one, hon.”

“Nooooo! Some people survived that book as well.”

“Here I thought you were trying to trump my body count,” Rob joked and sipped at his Blue Moon.

At this point, I felt I should ask another question or order a drink. I did both. “Rob, you don’t intend to use Kill Devil Hills in a sequel to Dead On or another title?”

“When I set a book in New Orleans, I do NOT use Anne Rice’s cemetery, and I also steer clear of anything smacking of James Lee Burke, so as to make my New Orleans unique. Using Kill Devil Hills on the “heels” of Miranda Phillips Walker, no way. Colorful place but no way.”

Miranda muttered in his ear, “That’s OK, Rob, if he wanna use the location in the future sometime.” Rob pouted and said it was spoiled now for him.

“Will you two ever collaborate on a book?” I asked and man did this break up the bit of

They looked like two deer caught in the headlights. And both said at once, “No, no, no,” as in a chant. Then they added, “Maybe, maybe, maybe.”

“We love one another too much for that,” Miranda suggested.

“Family is far more important than fame, fortune, or any of that sort of nonsense,” added Rob, the two of them talking over one another in a rush. “However,” added Rob, “never say never. If the right idea came along, and if we can put our egos on the shelf, who knows?”

“Stranger things have happened,” added Miranda. “But honestly, we do read over one another’s work, and we do take good direction from one another.

“Yeah we do help one another throughout the process,” added Rob, “but more importantly, we maintain a respectful relationship toward one another in all we do.”

“Well this has been splendid but time’s run out for me.”

“That sounds like a line in a gangster movie…Curtains for ya…time’s run out for ya, Blackey,” joked Rob and Miranda grabbed him by the arm and tugged him to her. I left the couple in high spirits and laughter amid the music of Buck’s Gunshop and Oyster Bar, but the partners in crime fiction insisted on walking me safely to my car. Outside, the three of us strolled along a thumping, withered old wharf, surrounded by sea oats, below a huge moon over the ocean. At my car, we said our good-byes.

“ I surely wish to thank you and it’s wonderful you two know how to enjoy yourselves in wonderful North Carolina! I never knew this place existed.”

“You gotta go so soon?” asked Rob.

Yeah, the night’s young,” added Miranda.

I slipped into my car with photos taken and recording done wondering if I could sell this thing on eBay or even to Writer’s Crack Me Up Journal, unsure really what I had just faced, but on waking the next day and reviewing my notes, I realized wow, an interesting review overall and I figure Meanderings and Muses could use an infusion of the Walker mystique

For more info on Robert find him on the web where writers hang out and at

For more info on Miranda find her on the web where writers hang out and at

(Note: while I would truly love taking credit for the above piece, in all fairness, I must admit it was written by the talented and ever clever, Mr. Rob Walker. But! One of these days I intend to catch up with Rob and Miranda and kick back with a Blue Moon or two. For real - they're adorable! AND talented!)


Chester Campbell said...

That was a great interview you did, uh, once removed, Kaye. I believe you could stand on Rob with both feet but still couldn't keep him down.

Julia Buckley said...

Very fun. :)

Ken Lewis said...

Well, well, well! If it isn't the Dynamic Duo of the marital crime fiction writing world, Walker & Walker! I swear, you two are EVERYWHERE on the Net right now! Damn you, Rob. I read clear to the end of the interview BELIEVING that Kayester had actually driven over to Buck's Gun Shop and Oyster Bar, or wherever the hell this interview was supposed to have taken place! Ever the writer, eh Rob? OK, you got me...fair and square. Congratulations to you both on the nearly simultaneous release of your new books. Oh, and Miranda? My wife is currently reading "The Well Meaning Killer." The first couple of nights she would close the book after reading and say, "You know? This is pretty good for a first novel." Now, halfway through it, she closed the book last night and said: "This is an excellent book."

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Two crime writers in the same household! Wow. Glad to see they make it work so well.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Morgan Mandel said...

Loved it. Great, fun blog.
You two are going places!

Morgan Mandel

Rob & Miranda said...

Thanks y'all for coming by, and thanks Ken for passing along the kind words to Miranda from your lady. I just read the remarks to her aloud as she has just got in the door from an all nighter at the ER....she perked up before going to sleep. Sweet dreams.
Upcoming his and her booksigning at local Borders Express...onward and upward.

Earl Staggs said...

A fun visit. I know I'd enjoy hanging out with both of you. Maybe someday, we can make that happen.