Pima resident and mom of six, Laura Walker has published 28 books and lives the life of her dreams.
Walker started writing seriously in 2013, after she was able to send her youngest child, now 8, to school. As she looked around her home, she felt she needed something to do with her time.
“I didn’t know what I was doing besides being a mom,” she said.
Although she loved being a wife and mother, this new time on her hands made her wonder what else she could be. Then the passion for writing found its way back into her life, she said. She used to write romance books when she was a teenager, but when she had her children she decided to put it aside.
“It was like a piece of me that I put away for a long time. When I started writing, it was like picking up a piece of my heart again,” she said.
At her peak performance, Walker self publishes one book every two months. Waking up, she takes her kids to school, where they stay until noon. If she doesn’t do a short workout, she jumps right into writing. After picking up her girls for lunch, she continues to work on her writing through the rest of the evening. One of her daughters or husband makes dinner as she continues to work. Sometimes she stays up until 11 p.m., she said. On Sunday, she attends church and takes a day off.
Although her husband, Rob, can support their family, her income helps support whatever emergency expenses come up. Also, she has paid for several vacations with her book earnings, she said.
Her novels are a mixture of historical romance and contemporary and each have a hint of religion. The religious elements are easier to sell in historical novels, Walker said. In modern contemporary, it is much harder to find an audience for romantic contemporary with religious elements. However, her romance novels are different from most because the physical intimacy of the characters does not go beyond a kiss or two.
Julia Rigdmont is Walker’s pen name. She said she wanted a name that fit the genre, and since Julia is an older name, she chose it. She created the name Rigdmont for one of the characters in her novels and liked it so much she decided to use it. Many authors have multiple pen names that they use to write their novels, she said. It helps Amazon sell the books in the correct niche, she said. By using the Amazon genre analytic, authors are able to sell their books to their specific readers.
“It’s enough to keep the reader engaged. My contemporary is rom-com; clean with a theme,” she said.
Walker writes this type of fictional work because she abides by the fiction writer’s rule: Write what you want to read.
As she creates her plots, she finds inspiration when she talks to other authors in a multi-author group. The collaborative helps her come up with ideas, she said. Her husband and daughters, the oldest of whom is 20, also help her come up with creative plot lines whenever she is stumped. When it comes to creating characters, she focuses on character traits and not so much physical appearance.
Some of her books are novellas, while others are full-length novels. One of the smaller novellas is based in Graham County and what she calls a reader magnet.
“It’s a bit of a way to give your readers a sample of your writing. It’s based around 1900, and I partly based it off what my grandparents told me about the area,” she said. “The main character is a farmer. Her parents depend on her to do most of the farming. She’s always out there helping her dad. She’s the oldest daughter, and she’s treated as a boy helping her dad out.”
The growth of the character curves as she falls for a surprising hero.
After writing so many romantic stories, Walker said she has caught her writing a familiar plot line.
“You do have to catch yourself. I just have to come up with different ideas. I come up with a list of different things that can happen to the character and I ask my husband. He’s not a writer, but he has a background in criminal justice and he is also a history fanatic,” she said.
Sometimes, when she poses a plot question to her husband, he will come up with so many ideas she has to tell him to slow down. As she writes, the characters take her on their own adventures. She’s a “Pantser,” someone who flies by the seat of their pants.
“I have parts of myself in these characters. There are a few traits from my husband,” she said. “I also use elements from my childhood.”
Although they may be based in fictional towns in the west, her books have elements of her upbringing in the Gila Valley, she said.