Author Will Walton gives insight on book with controversial topics

Decatur High School students attended a presentation by author Will Walton on Friday, Aug. 31. There, he spoke on his most recent novel, “I Felt a Funeral In My Brain.” During the event, he discussed how the story was created, described its journey into the public eye, and interacted with the crowd by answering questions.

Among the audience was freshman Renny Hyde.

“I enjoyed the experience,” Hyde said. “[Will Walton is] a really great author and his stories are inspiring to young authors as well.”

Hyde finds Walton inspirational because of Walton’s success as an LGBT author. After the presentation, Hyde and Walton discussed the possibility of an event where Walton and other local LGBT writers could connect with aspiring writers in Decatur’s Gender Sexuality Alliance.

Walton describes “I Felt a Funeral In My Brain” as “the story of a sixteen year old as he falls in love with poetry, at the same time as his life falls apart.” The novel, based loosely off of the namesake poem by Emily Dickinson, took Walton three years to write. Author and publisher David Levithan discovered the book at the Decatur Book Festival back in 2013. Before then, Walton did not know if this work, or any of his others would ever be public.

Dickinson’s “I felt a funeral in my brain” speaks on depressing topics, and its mood seems comparable to Walton’s novel of the same name.

“It can be really discouraging when you work on something that ends up never seeing the light of day; it puts you back at square one,” Walton said. “But sometimes, [this is] a good thing because it teaches you how to better your work and have more endurance.”

Walton published his first book, “Anything Could Happen,” in 2015. The book follows the emotional and mental journey of a closeted teenage male struggling with the fact that he is in love with his straight best friend. Walton wrote the book while attending the University of Georgia; surprisingly, he didn’t develop an interest in literature and writing until late in his high school career. Now, writing makes up an important part of his life.

“I can’t not write,” he said. “It’s an everyday thing [and] something I have to do. It’s a part of who I am.”

Another aspect of Walton’s writing that makes it part of his identity is his inclusion of parts of his own life in his books. All of his books share one foundation: the main character’s relationship to their family. This commonality originated from his connection to his own family.

Even though “I Felt a Funeral In My Brain” was published this year, Walton is already planning his next work: a fiction novel imagining the life of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Born in England, McQueen commonly took inspiration for his clothing from antique items such as paintings, decor, and more. Walton admires McQueen’s work, describing it as “insane, beautiful, and grotesque.”

As of now, there is no planned publication date for Walton’s next novel.