By Rob LeDonne
“I love getting out and meeting readers,” author Jess Walter said enthusiastically from his Spokane, Wash., home, and, as a result, he’s trekking on a book tour for the next few months that will take him all over the country — including an April 22 reception at the Rancho Santa Fe Library where he will talk about his most recent novel, “Beautiful Ruins.”
“Writing is a solitary job, so it’s great to come out and meet people who say something I’ve written is one of their favorite books.”
Walter has been a wildly successful working writer for the past 20 years; aside from his multiple books and being a New York Times bestselling author, his resume of writing credits lists off a who’s who of magazines, such as Details, Harper’s, and Esquire. With such a long career, it’s no surprise that Walter caught the writing bug at a young age.
“Even as a kid I was writing,” he remembers. “Me and my siblings would write stories for a thing we made at home called “Readers Indigestion” when I was 7 or 8 years old, and after that I worked on school newspapers. Throughout it all, I had some nice people encourage me along the way.”
Walter parlayed his early writing experiences into a job as an actual newspaper reporter for his hometown publication in Washington, and his Pulitzer Prize-nominated reporting directly led to getting his first book published.
“I left to write a book in 1995 called ‘Ruby Ridge,’ about a standoff with separatists and the FBI,” explained Walter, whose career was spurred by the publication of the book by Harper Collins. The controversial book gained national attention, and Walter found himself on shows such as “Good Morning America” and “Nightline.” The book became so popular, it was made into a TV movie starring Laura Dern in 1996.
It was from the solid foundation of his first book that Walter has built an impressive and eclectic career, including 2005’s “Citizen Vince” (which won an Edgar Allan Poe award for Best Novel); “The Financial Lives of Poets,” (Time Magazine’s runner up for Book of the Year in 2009); and “We Live in Water” (a collection of short stories published this past February). Said Walter: “I pride myself on writing different things; I’ve won awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The one similarity is that all of my novels tend to have a little humor in them.” Overall, Walter remembers his initial struggles with rejection: “It took me seven years to sell a short story. There’s no easy way when dealing with rejection, you just power through it.”
His most recent novel is the satirical and romantic epic “Beautiful Ruins,” a project years in the making which recently spent a few weeks atop the New York Times Bestsellers list and was chosen “Book of the Year” by a number of magazines.
“I went to Italy in 1997 and that trip was the initial spark for this story about a man from Hollywood who meets a beautiful actress in Italy,” says Walter. “I worked on it on and off for about 15 years, and just immersed myself in Italian culture, reading about the clothes, cars and food, and even went to Italy a few times for it.”
The story focuses on Italy in the 1960s and Hollywood today. Walter says he finds that everything else he’s written helps enhance the next book.
“You become a better writer all the time,” notes Walter. “I try to write seven days a week, usually at the desk by 5 or 6 in the morning.”
It’s no wonder Walter is looking forward to his book tour break.
The reception for Jess Walter will be held between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Rancho Santa Fe Library on Monday, April 22. The $40 dollar ticket includes a light lunch, presentation, question and answer session, and a signed copy of “Beautiful Ruins.” For reservations go to www.rsflibraryguild.org or call 858-756-4780.
The Rancho Santa Fe Library is located at 17040 Avenida de Acacias in Rancho Santa Fe, 92067.
For more information on Jess Walter, visit https://