Some of you might recognize him...yep, that's Eric Wilson! One of my favorite suspense authors! He's multi-published, super talented, and a sweet family-man with a heart of gold - you DON'T want to miss his books! You'll be so focused on the chilly finger of suspense sliding down your spine that you almost won't even notice the subtle, cleverly aimed splinter of truth and faith piercing straight into your heart. This is one author to keep your eye on! (and don't forget to read his books with your back to a wall.)
I had the pleasure of hosting an interview with Eric last year, as one of my first blog interviews ever done. Now, he's back with new stories and new advice! Check it out!
Betsy: Welcome back, Eric! Your series, starring Aramis Black, so far consists of two books. The Best of Evil and A Shred of Truth. Is there a third Aramis story around the corner?
Betsy: What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever heard?
Eric: I do have a third Aramis Black book planned. It may be a while till it sees the light of day, but I hope to do it. All of my series are tied together. For example, the villain in A Shred of Truth will resurface as the villain in my third Senses book--not to mention, his ties to the Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy. Someday, all will be revealed. That is, if people continue buying the books and keeping the publishers on my side. (Yes, that means you can play a part in this unfolding drama!)
Betsy: From the time you first started writing it, how long did it take you to sell the series?
Eric: Actually, this is the only series I didn't have to sell. My original editor at WaterBrook proposed to me the idea of doing a Nashville-based mystery series. Once I came up with my protagonist's name, Aramis Black, I was hooked on doing it.
Eric: Best writing advice? Wow, that's tough. At it's most basic, writing consists of craft and creativity (plus a whole lot of discipline). Craft-wise, I'd say the best advice came from The Elements of Style: "Use the active voice." Instead of writing,"There were a great number of dead leaves on the ground," you can say, "Dead leaves cover the ground." Much stronger. In Walking on Water, Madeleine L'Engle gave this advice, which has influenced my own creativity: "The great artists...help us to know that we are often closer to God in our doubts than in our certainties." That's one of the reasons I write.
Betsy: What's the one piece of writing advice you think everyone should just ignore? =)
Eric: Advice to ignore? "You need to write a detailed chapter-by-chapter synopsis..." This is the type of thing you hear in writing classes and from publisher guidelines. Seriously, it dragged me down for years. When I finally just sat down and wrote, letting the story and characters come alive through the process, I had a lot more fun and got a lot further along.
Betsy: One of my favorite aspects of the Aramis Black series are the intricate plots. You weave such a wonderful, detailed pattern of clues and red herrings, facts and myths, history and present mysteries...did you have to sit down and plot it all out first, or did Aramis surprise you with some of the details along the way?
Eric: Oh, Aramis definitely surprises me as the story goes along. In fact, Graham Greene said: "The moment comes when a character does or says something you hadn't thought about. At that moment he's alive and you leave it to him." That's exactly how I feel. I start with a basic skeleton plot and, even more importantly, an inner conflict of my main character. From there, writing is a walk of faith for me. Non-believers, too, often experience the creative spark that way--which is a sign of God's amazing grace, don't you think?
Betsy: What's the most fun part about being a multi-published author so far?
Eric: Multi-published? Meaning, more than one book? Well, the least fun part is how many bookstores don't have even one copy of any of my books. That's depressing. The fun part: Knowing that I get to keep doing what God put in my heart as a child, the chance to write stories that deal with life's questions while pointing to the One who is the Answer.
Betsy: When you sit down to write, do you discipline yourself to produce a certain number of pages or words, or do you just peck out whatever you can in the time you have to spare?
Eric: Once I have a deadline--yeah, you have to work under one of those once you get published--I divide the amount of words I'm aiming for in the book by the actual days I'll have to sit down and write. I don't include Sundays. Or my workdays at FedEx Kinko's. Or any holidays. So...90,000 words divided by 90 writing days (which means five or six months for me), equals 1000 words a day. Three or four pages. That's my basic formula, and then I stick to it. It's not so bad, if you just do it. (With Facing the Giants, I wrote 75,000 words in one month. Aggh!) Of course, if I write more than planned for a day, fantastic! If I fall behind, I kick myself in the butt, get some chiropractic work for the strained muscles required to perform such a kick, then plop back in the chair and start typing again.
Betsy: If I understand correctly, you also work full time. How do you balance a job, writing career/ministry, and a family? Any tips/advice in that area?
Eric: Well, first let me say that I'm finally down to part-time at FedEx Kinko's. With my first two novels, that wasn't the case. With the last two, I've been able to cut back my hours a little, but that meant living on PB&J sandwiches and using generic TP. (Yes, I have a very supportive, verrrry patient wife. Did I mention she's a hottie?) It is a tough balance, though, no matter where you are in your life. It's not like Satan says, "Oh, well, he's not as busy now, so I'll let him and his wife have some quality time together, and I'll give them a break." Basically, I try to keep the long-term perspective that if I don't have a strong family, the writing/ministry will lose any credibility. For me, my family is my ministry, my priority, my first responsibility. Of course, paying the bills to take care of them requires some butt-in-chair time. They understand that.
Betsy: If you could sit down and talk at length with any one author in the entire world, dead or living, who would it be?
Eric: Another tough one, you stinker! At the moment, I'd say Chuck Palahnuik, the author of Fight Club. He's a twisted creative genius, with lots of questions and social insight. Unfortunately, each successive book seems to further reveal the emptiness of his world view. I'd love to talk, truly, deeply, dialogue about faith and writing and relationships. I'm always excited to talk to those who are dissatisfied, because it usually means they have shed the BS and are seeking for something more.
Betsy: What are you currently reading?
Eric: I just finished Randy Singer's False Witness. He's my favorite writer of legal thrillers. I also sped through Me, Myself, & Bob. It tells the story of VeggieTales, the rise and fall, and the lessons learned. Great stuff. I'm waiting with bated breath for T.L. Hines' The Dead Whisper On and James Lee Burke's The Tin Roof Blowdown.
Betsy: Any new projects coming out? What can readers expect next from Eric Wilson?
Eric: I'm heading for Jerusalem two days from now, Lord willing, and I'll be doing research for my Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy. The first book will be out in Fall '08. I am so excited about this idea! It'll rock the boats of many religious people, but it's a deeply spiritual story, pointing to our need to "die to ourselves daily" and to "be alive in Christ." My intention, more than anything, is to tell a great story that'll reach those on the fringes of faith, those who are afraid to come through the doors of a church but are struggling to understand where, if, how, Jesus fits in their lives. And yes, Facing the Giants will be out September 4, '07. I had a blast doing the novelization of the movie, adding some hidden tidbits and back story, while remaining faithful to the screenplay. (Now I'm just praying the book will help me nab some free Titans tickets, or a starting role as a wide receiver! LOL)
Betsy: That all sounds great! We wish you the very best, and I just know God has big plans for you. Thanks for stopping back by my blog, and have a safe trip to Jerusalem!
Eric: Betsy Ann, thanks for taking the time to do an interview with me. As always, you have been a great encouragement.