CORRALES – Pat Walkow is a prolific, accomplished author – and an award-winning writer.
“It’s a labor of love. … I don’t write for the money,” Walkow says.
She’s written newspaper columns and articles, corporate articles and a couple of books. An anthology she edited, “New Mexico Remembers 9/11,” recently won first place in the Nonfiction Anthology category of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for 2021.
Walkow was in Los Angeles that horrific day, back when she was a computer consultant for a Fortune 500 company and making 30-35 trips annually between Corrales and L.A.
She remembers thinking the televised images she kept seeing were part of a bad movie.
She curated this collection, encompassing memories of that day in 2001 – through poetry and more – with all authors now residents of New Mexico.
Walkow, also a member of the New Mexico Press Women, earned acclaim from that organization, which announced six NMPW members won first place in the prestigious New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. Those winners competed in a field that included 1,676 submissions from throughout the region and from major publishers as well as from local small presses.
For Walter and Pat Walkow, who have lived in Corrales since 1997, their careers and retirement benefits have provided them with the lifestyle they enjoy in the village. They’re headed for their 50th wedding anniversary, though she jokes their bliss is “a work in progress.”
For Pat Walkow, writing and traveling – and often the two merge – are her current life’s pleasures.
She didn’t quit writing after she got a “no” from the publisher on the first thing she wrote, a short article she hoped to see published in the Saturday Review about her observations during a family gathering for her younger sister’s first communion.
She was “maybe 10 or so” when she wrote it; she recently came across the rejection letter during some cleaning, still having it six decades later. She hadn’t thought about being a writer when she grew up; instead, she thought about being a nurse.
“I liked the cap — no other reason,” she said
It would be a long time before she had anything published publicly, although a lot of her writing was for technical journals, after leaving the teaching profession. She taught in grades 4-7 for eight years.
She saw the widespread move to computers, went back to school and got a computer degree. As a competent computer programmer, she took a job as an applications manager for a Fortune 500 company.
Walkow remained in that field from 1979-97, when she and her husband wanted to move and decided, “Let’s check out Albuquerque,” which led them to Corrales.
“I didn’t retire; I quit,” she said, next spending 8½ years as a consultant.
She is proudest of her book “The War Within, The Story of Josef,” which won first place in the Biography category of the 2017 New Mexico Press Women Communications Contest and another first-place award in Historical Biography in the 2017 National Indie Press Awards.
That book is listed as a recommended read by Military Writers Society of the United States, from which she received a gold medal, one of her four awards for that work.
“I started it in 2002; it took about four years to get it where I wanted,” she recalled.
Josef Walkow, her father-in-law, passed away in 1997 at the age of 71.
She wouldn’t have gotten the idea for the story if she hasn’t asked Josef why he was wearing long pants.
It was a hot, humid day in August 1969 in New Jersey, with Walkow and Walter wearing shorts and trying to beat the heat. Her father-in-law answered that he was used to it and didn’t want to be self-conscious about having a wooden leg, which she didn’t know about.
Slowly, his story of being a slave laborer in Nazi Germany came out, leading more than four decades later to the award-winning book, the “story of a young man’s wartime journey through cruelty and kindness, hatred and love, despair and hope.”
“It’s a narrative biography,” Walkow said.
She added dialogue, but the story is factually correct. Josef, a Polish-Catholic captured by the Nazis after Hitler’s troops invaded Poland, met a German teen-aged girl who later became his wife, and Walkow’s mother-in-law.
Walkow loves her occasional role as editor, too, and sometimes helps fellow members of the Corrales Writing Group, of which she is a co-founder, and Southwest Writers.
She was the editor of Corrales MainStreet for three years and oversaw and edited an anthology by the Corrales Writing Group, “Kale is a four-letter word.” The anthology rationalizes we’re all gonna die sometime. (If you’re a kale fan, you’ll find a bunch of recipes in there, too.)
Walkow’s next project entails an ambitious trip, this time to Thailand for a book with the working title “The Far Moist End of the Earth” – which she plans to be the first of a trilogy.
“I’m being selfish at this point of my life,” she says.
She hopes to soon check off more items in her bucket list: visiting Australia and New Zealand; attending a World Series game; visiting as many national parks, to include Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida, as possible; and traveling around the world.