Ron Walters is joining us today to talk about his novel, Deep Dive. Here’s the publisher’s description:
When your reality shatters, what will you do to put it back together again?
Still reeling from the failure of his last project, videogame developer Peter Banuk is working hard to ensure his next game doesn’t meet the same fate. He desperately needs a win, not only to save his struggling company, but to justify the time he’s spent away from his wife and daughters.
So when Peter’s tech-genius partner offers him the chance to beta-test a new state-of-the-art virtual reality headset, he jumps at it. But something goes wrong during the trial, and Peter wakes to find himself trapped in an eerily familiar world where his children no longer exist.
As the lines between the real and virtual worlds begin to blur, Peter is forced to reckon with what truly matters to him. But can he escape his virtual prison before he loses his family forever?
What’s Ron’s favorite bit?
If you hang around authors long enough, you’ll hear them talk about the book of their heart, the story that means more to them than anything they’ve ever written. For the longest time I didn’t think I had that kind of book in me. Not because I lacked the skills to pull it off, but because my heart never seemed to be as invested as it should be. That’s not to say I didn’t care about the books I wrote; to this day I still love them all. None of them, however, felt like books I needed to write. They were simply books I wanted to write.
That all changed with DEEP DIVE.
When I first started writing it, I had no idea it would become my debut novel. If anything, I figured it would wind up trunked alongside all my other books. But I was determined to get published, so I did what I’d always done: opened a blank Word document and got to work. I loosely plotted the story, and mostly knew where I wanted it to go, but there were still a lot of details that were unclear, especially when it came to Peter, the main character, and how exactly his job as a struggling video game developer was affecting his relationship with his wife and children. That was fine. For me, the joy of writing comes from exploration and discovery, of composing unexpected moments that suddenly illuminate hidden elements of the plot and break open the entire story.
A few pages into the first chapter, though, I could tell something was different. The words flowed faster than they’d ever flowed before. I wasn’t second-guessing myself or doubling back to tweak an especially awkward phrase. At first, I chalked up my productivity to all the lessons I’d learned writing the other books I had under my belt, but as I got deeper into the chapter and saw how Peter interacted with his wife and daughters and how frustrated he was with himself for putting his creative needs above his family’s needs, I finally started to understand why the book was gushing out of me.
This wasn’t just another story I wanted to tell. This was a story I needed to tell, because it was my story. My story as a writer. My story as a father. My story of all the frustrating years I’d spent trying to break into publishing at the expense of giving up time with my family. I’d taken all my writerly woes and channeled them into Peter. He was desperate for professional success because I was desperate for professional success. He’d become something of an absentee husband and father because I often felt like an absentee husband and father. He and his family regularly cooked crepes for breakfast because my family regularly cooks crepes for breakfast.
That first chapter, when Peter and his family are gathered around the breakfast table and he leaves for work even though it’s the weekend and his youngest daughter’s birthday, is hands down my favorite bit of the entire novel. Not only is it very much inspired by my own experiences as a husband and a father, it also sets up the entire emotional core of the story. The emotional core that carries Peter and me all the way to the last six words of the book. Six words that, when I typed them, made me realize I’d done what I never thought I could do.
I’d written the book of my heart.
The fact that DEEP DIVE went on to become my debut novel is, even now, such an indescribable gift. There is no doubt in my mind that it will always be the most personal thing I’ll ever write, a once-in-a-lifetime conjunction of perseverance and parenting and kismet that was fueled by a desire to prove that I not only had what it took to become a published author, but that the time I’d spent secluded from my wife and kids in order to write wasn’t wasted after all. I can only hope that the love I hold in my heart for this book and for the family who inspired it is as obvious to readers as it is to me.
Ron Walters is a former journalist, college registrar, and stay-at-home dad who writes science fiction and fantasy for all ages. A native of Savannah, GA, he currently lives in Germany with his wife, two daughters, and two rescue dogs. When he’s not writing he works as a substitute high school teacher, plays video games, and does his best to ignore the judgmental looks his dogs give him for not walking them more often.