Monday, September 11, 2006
Interview with Eric Wilson
The Best of Evil is one of the most intriguing novels I've read in a long time! Eric Wilson, author of Dark to Mortal Eyes and Expiration Date has brought another amazing tale of suspense and forgiveness in this must-read novel.
Betsy: Eric, The Best of Evil is a fantastic suspense, with deep, realistic characters the reader can instantly relate to. How do you best relate to the hero of the story, Aramis Black? Similarities? Differences?
Eric: I'm tall, skinny, dirty-blond, without tattoos or any in my past. Both my parents are still alive. And I hate Froot Loops. In those ways, I'm really nothing like Aramis. My editor told me, though: "I see Aramis Black as Eric Wilson on steroids." I laughed. What he meant, I think, is that Aramis has many of my same struggles to understand God's forgiveness and grace in the midst of pain from the past. He is cynical, somewhat sarcastic, but underneath he has a heart to care for other people.
Betsy: He's truly a great character. In the story, Aramis co-owns and manages a coffee shop. Do you have any experience working in the coffee industry? Reading those scenes, I could almost smell the freshly ground beans!! You really took me there.
Eric: Wake up and smell the cofffee, as they say. I'm glad those scenes worked for you. If you were here, I'd serve you up a great latte. Yes, for four years my wife and I owned and operated an espresso shop called "Espresso Yourself," back in Oregon. Those customers were some of my main supporters while I wrote DARK TO MORTAL EYES, my debut novel. They bought our drinks. They listened to my ideas. We talked and prayed together. I miss them a lot.
Betsy: I bet that was a really great experience. And what a fun name for a coffee shop! Well, Eric, your bio mentions that you've been a youth pastor before. What was that like? Have any of your experiences with the church helped to give you fresh insight into your stories and characters?
Eric: I youth pastored for five years. I love teenagers. I still do. They are full of ideas and energy and zeal. As I started raising my own children, the time conflict (and lack of income) became a real burden on our family and so I resigned. My experiences in church have given me positive and negative insight for my stories. I've seen the reality of God's love. I've also seen the damage that can be done in his name. My stories always include characters who are on the fringes of faith, trying to understand God in an honest light while dealing with the junk they've seen perpetuated under the religious guise.
Betsy: That's really amazing. As writers, we're truly inspired by everything - and sometimes nothing! So, what are you working on writing right now?
Eric: I'm waiting for word from my agent on what book is wanted next. I have three more thrillers planned for the Christian market. I have two specific nonfiction titles in mind. I have a series I want to do for the secular market, one dealing with the dead and the undead in creative, but very biblical ways. The Christian market is not ready for it. Plus, I want it to reach nonbelievers and cause them to view Jesus in ways that go beyond tradition and religion.
Betsy: That all sounds really awesome. You are indeed busy! I can't wait to see what you have in store for readers next. As a writer, do you always have a dozen different plots racing through your mind, or do you settle down and focus on one story at a time?
Eric: My mind is always racing with ideas. When it comes time to write a story, I have to funnel those down into one focused stream. Usually, within a story, I'll be surprised at a few of the other ideas that slip through into the main idea. Oftentimes, I'm amazed at the motifs that will be connected by seemingly unconnected thoughts. It's a very organic process, growing and branching off on its own.
Betsy: Good point. Well, let me assure you, Aramis Black is one of my new favorite characters! First of all - his name. So intriguing - one can't help but be a hero with a name like that! What made you decide to give Aramis the burdens of his past and with forgiveness? Did you invent the plot or the character first?
Eric: I loved the name Aramis Black. As soon as I settled on it, the whole series came to life in my mind. I decided to drop him and his muddied past into the streets of modern Nashville. I wanted to show that Music City is not only the stereotypes that most people have in mind. I also wanted to explore some of the rich history in this area, including mysteries of the past. As for the burdens in Aramis's past, those are the heartbeat of the story to me. They define his struggle to become a new man in Christ. He tries to break free, but the past comes roaring back in an unexpected way, putting his new commitment to the test.
Betsy: You did a great job incorporating all of those aspects into your story. It made me want to pick up a history textbook and find out more! Eric, I understand the sequel to The Best of Evil is planned to be released in Summer 2007. Can you give the reader any hints as to what will happen to Aramis next?
Eric: The sequel to The Best of Evil is already in the publisher's hands. The title is A Shred of Truth, and it'll have some real surprises for fans of Aramis Black. In fact, I was surprised by a few things myself. The book opens with Aramis's brother tied to a statue in Nashville. He has initials carved into his back. Soon, Aramis is led on a wild-goose chase through his own past to discover the truth behind the attacker's intentions and the truth of God's forgiveness versus God's judgment. It's a bit darker, a bit faster-paced, than The Best of Evil. Along the way, though, Aramis finds some very bright rays of hope.
Betsy: Wow, very exciting. I'm getting chills just thinking about it! I can't wait! I've just added you to my list of favorite authors. Who are some of your favorites? Which ones have inspired you over the course of your writing career?
Eric: I've been an avid reader since I was a little tyke. My favorite authors have moved from C.S. Lewis to Robert Ludlum to Dean Koontz. I love literary novels. I also love well-rounded thrillers. I was inspired early on by Lewis's THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, later by Ludlum's THE BOURNE IDENTITY, and recently by John Dalton's HEAVEN LAKE. There are some amazing authors out there. I would love to see some of the new authors in Christian fiction get more notice. Most of the advertising dollars go to the established names, while talented newcomers fall by the wayside.
Betsy: What lessons did you learn along the winding road to publication? What can you share with us?
Eric: Never give up. Try not to turn bitter. Write and write and write. Read books on the craft of writing and try to sharpen your talent. Be kind and honest in your dealings with those in the industry--no matter what else happens, that editor or reviewer is your brother or sister, a future citizien of heaven. Oh, and stop talking about writing and actually write. Let God's love and truth flow through your story, but don't sugarcoat life's struggles. This publishing process moves in slow motion, from the author's perspective, so be very patient and understanding. Oh, and did I mention: WRITE!
Betsy: (laughing) Got it! So what is the one piece of advice you'd give to aspiring authors out there right now, other than to keep writing?
Eric: Dig deep into your own heart and let your words flow from your own passions and pain. There are very few original ideas. What makes your story original is your perspective, your style, your approach. Don't try to be like someone else. Be who God has created you to be. When you've actually finished a book (instead of just talking about finishing a book), start knocking on doors and see what happens.
Betsy: Great advice, Eric. Thank you so much for the interview!
Read more about Eric and his characters at www.wilsonwriter.com!
And don't miss The Best of Evil - released in bookstores September 19th!