Author Q&A with Christopher Chase Walker

Author Q&A with Christopher Chase Walker

Don’t Falter is Christopher Chase Walker’s third book. Having previously written narratives that engage with genre-bending and imaginary constructs like the devil taking human form (2016’s The Visitor) and a fictional and fabricated relationship with a celebrity (his impressive 2012 debut Now You Know), he now moves through another imagined world that is scarily close to our own: society and hyper surveillance.

This impressive espionage detective fiction is set in a surveillance-heavy UK where children are taught to spy as part of specialist education, training and graduating from 'tradecraft' as part of their studies. Anna Fetlock is a promising and intelligent student, who gets caught up when family matters conflict with her duties

At times when I was reading, I was reminded of Alex Rider and Anthony Horowitz’s Stormbreaker series where adolescence and danger stew together in impressive quantities and there were also elements of the dystopian/technologically advanced societies that exist in the Divergent series. This story blends possibilities with impossible choices, and shows us a version of society that is hyper-real and very close to home.

Christopher Chase Walker answered some questions for us in the book's release week, noting inspirations and how the greater issues of self-reflection and order vs. chaos would operate in a parallel society to our own.

How would you describe Don’t Falter?

There is on the surface (and to nick a line from the book itself) the whirling kaleidoscope of summer. Sunlight, the sea, Brighton’s bustling streets, its parks and cafés. But peel back that bright outer layer and you get a creeping sense of something sinister, the dark backing of the mirror. 

It’s a mystery, then?

Not a mystery so much, as it is espionage. Anna Fetlock is a schoolgirl raised in a society that teaches its young to spy. Rewards them for it. You ask me and the book can be read several ways. It’s a spy story as much as it’s about young love, family and betrayal.

Why set it in Brighton?

There was, in part, the notion that if a socially and politically progressive place like Brighton – Brighton of all places – could go Stasi-like, then it could happen everywhere in the UK, inch by inch. Rather contrary to that is what the novelist and playwright Keith Waterhouse (Billy Liar, Jeffery Bernard is Unwell) said about the city, that it looks like ‘it’s helping the police with their enquiries.’


Short for Staatssicherheit, the former East German Ministry for State Security that not only had its own oppressive and all-powerful network of secret police, but also ran hundreds of thousands of informants. Ordinary people reporting on neighbours, family and friends, passers-by.

How did you get started?

Several years back (and many times since) I read Anna Funder’s book, Stasiland. Hers is a non-fiction account of life under the Stasi – victims, perpetrators, the atmosphere. It made me ask myself if, when I was young, had I lived in a different country (or had my own upbringing been different) would I have been outwardly complicit with surveillance society, would I have stood against it, would I have been coerced to go along with it, or would I have simply kept my head down and tried to keep out of the way? Would I have broken? The hard truth is, I don’t know. I know what I’d like the answers to be, but can I really say? I wrote Don’t Falter to try and find out and to put the questions to others. And to ask: What are we doing to ourselves now? How much have we lost? What’s next? 

Were there any other influences?

The other big book, second in the charts, was The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis. From it I lifted his three-narrator structure. Or perhaps not ‘lifted’ but saw how it could be done in my own book. Saw, too, that the iComm, one of Don’t Falter’s three narrators (called the IM, German shorthand for Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter, in the first draft), needed to have some levity about him, goofball charisma, yet an ordinary sort. Phillip Roth’s The Plot Against America had some bearing on things too. In it, Roth was looking back – and to the side of history – asking, What if this happened instead?

Don’t Falter doesn’t look back in the same way, not at a major era like the rise of fascism and the second world war, doesn’t show an alternative history, but looks away to the side of what’s happening now and how things might be if we stagger a step or two to the right – or rather keep staggering.

The Great Gatsby, of course (even when I’m determined to avoid it), is always there, its aestival hum. And perhaps something – some grains, some warmth and something dark – of Jean Louise Finch’s looking back at girlhood summers in both of Harper Lee’s books. The oddball influence was Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, a literary middle ages fantasy novel. I thought, if he can write about dragon’s breath and wizards and do it with grace and poetry, with rhythms and language (and absences) firmly literary, then I can do the same, only with espionage rather than Dungeons and Dragons.

To whom will it appeal?

My hope is there are a good many readers not unlike me who enjoy contemporary and literary fiction. Espionage and detective fiction too.


Don't Falter was released and published by us March 5, 2024. Get your copy now.

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