Meet T. Mike Walker Author of Escape from Iran: The Re-enslavement of Women and the Death of Modern Music
Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest, writer, author, retired teacher, musician, and artist, T. Mike Walker author of Escape from Iran: The Re-enslavement of Women and the Death of Modern Music.
Norm: Good day T. Mike and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Mike: At 17 I was living on the streets of San Francisco after graduating from High School and asked a former classmate's parents if I could rent an empty room beneath their house while I looked for a job and enrolled at San Francisco City College. They kindly said yes, and for the next year I was sheltered, fed, and educated in many ways by Jack and Tillie Olsen and their four beautiful daughters.
Every night I would hear Tillie typing upstairs long after everyone else was in bed. She had won a scholarship to Stanford's writing workshop for one of her short stories, but she worked all day as a secretary, had to feed her family and make their lunches and buy the groceries, etc., and the night hours were her only time to write.
After they had all gone to work or school the next morning, I would sneak up to the kitchen to eat a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and would pull crumpled pieces of manuscript from the garbage can next to the table where Tillie would read and edit page after page, sometimes putting her stories through six or seven iterations before she was satisfied with a sentence. She was working on her masterpiece, “Tell Me A riddle,”, which was made into a film in the '80's.
Her careful mastery inspired me to write a story of my own “break” with my parents during my last semester in High School when they decided to abandon their restaurant (which was going broke) and move back to Aurora, IL.
I refused to accompany them, and our struggle was the focus of my short story. I asked Tillie to read it, and she was so impressed she said, “I know that you love to play music and draw pictures, but you have a real talent for writing—would you like me to introduce you to some of my teachers at San Francisco State College? They could help you find a career.” Of course, I agreed, and we drove out to the college where Tillie introduced me to Walter Van Tilberg Clark (The Ox Bo Incident). Mark Harris, Wright Morris, and other strong influences.
This was in 1962-63, when so many writers and poets were emerging f