Currently in jail for bank robbery, the former army medic reflects on writing his book, serving in Iraq and finding solace in Albert Camus
Nico Walker was born in 1985 and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. Aged 19, he joined the US army as a medic and served 11 months in Iraq, returning with what a forensic psychiatrist later described as one of the worst cases of PTSD he’d ever seen. Walker developed a heroin addiction and in 2011 began robbing banks, carrying out 10 heists in four months before he was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Now, with less than two years left on his sentence, he has published Cherry, a novel partly based on his experiences, which the Washington Post called “a miracle of literary serendipity, a triumph… his prose echoes Ernest Hemingway’s cadences to powerful effect”.
What prompted you to start writing?
Matthew Johnson, who runs Tyrant Books, read a  BuzzFeed article about me. We started talking and he told me I should write a book about my experiences. I wasn’t so eager to do it, because a lot of the stuff touched raw nerves. But he convinced me, so I went at it one step at a time. I definitely didn’t want to write a non-fiction memoir.
Compared with what I’d been doing in Iraq, robbing banks seemed like kids’ stuff. Obviously it was wrong, I realise now