Author Spotlight no.31 – Caroline Walton

Complementing my daily blog interviews, the Author Spotlights give a glimpse of an author, often leading up to the full interview (my interview with Caroline will follow in the next few weeks) and today’s, the thirty-first, is of non-fiction author, mentor, ghostwriter, reviewer Caroline Walton.

Award-winning author Caroline Walton’s book on spiritual survival in extreme circumstances, The Besieged, has just been published by Biteback UK.

Her first three books were published in the US by Garrett County Press: Ivan Petrov – Russia through a Shot Glass the life story of a Soviet alcoholic and vagabond; Little Tenement on the Volga – Caroline’s account of living in post-Soviet Russia; a novel, The Voice of Leningrad, which won a New London Writer’s Award in 2000.

Caroline is also a Russian to English literary translator and a writing mentor. She has worked with the Open College of the Arts, the Wimpole Street Writers’ Group and now privately. Skilfully guiding writers through the process of preparing for publication and submission to agents and publishers, she is a wizard in banishing any demons lurking along the way.

And now from the author herself:

I started writing books in the winter of 1993, when I was 36. I was living in Russia by the Volga, having gone out to discover what life was like post-communism. Feeling depressed after an illness, I went to visit a friend, an elderly wise woman who lived with her animals in a fairy tale wooden hut, dispensing advice and herbal medicine. She started to tell me about her life growing up in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. A light went on. ‘Do you mind if I write this down?’ I asked.

That was the start of my first book. My exploration of Russia and the countries of the former USSR has brought me into contact with the most extraordinary people and their life stories.

I write with the aim of reducing the distance between people. I see my writing as a conduit between east and west. For example, the siege of Leningrad has haunted me since my first visit to that city in 1979. Conditions were inhuman: a slice of bread a day, no heating, light or running water, minus 40 degree temperatures and constant bombardment. Up to a million and a half people died – but as many survived. I thought in their place I would have given up the ghost pretty quickly but people didn’t. They faced a stark choice – succumb to fear, despair and madness (there was cannibalism) or overcome their inner demons and survive. I wanted to know how they did that. The Besieged focuses on creative people – actors, musicians, writers and so on. Their stories changed my life – they also changed my approach to writing.

They showed me how we have to nurture our creativity. For the siege survivors it was literally a question of life and death. For us, we may not die in a physical sense but we certainly damage our spirits by not following our creative impulse. In my own case, I spent too long listening to the ‘voices of reason’ – both inner and outer – that told me to be sensible and get a proper job etc. Once I let go of those, success flowed.

If we have an urge to put words on paper that is exactly what we need to be doing. So-called ‘writer’s block’ arises when we listen to negative voices. I am passionate about helping fellow writers develop and celebrate their gifts. I offer mentoring, face-to-face, by phone or email. All those who are interested are welcome to drop me a line:

Thank you Caroline. 🙂 You can find more about Caroline and her work via her website You can also listen to a podcast interview with her carried out for US public radio stations. 🙂

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with children’s and Y.A. author Mel Taylor – the one hundred and eighty-sixth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers, agents and publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts here.