Hi, Erik. Thanks for joining us today. You’re an American author, and you live in Iowa, but do you set your books there, and if not, where are they set?
My debut mystery, Mortom, is modeled after the town of Farmington, Iowa, where my father grew up. Many of the places in the book—like the cemeteries—are true to the landscape. One of the advantages of basing your novel on a real place is the ability to drive there and seek inspiration, which I did on multiple occasions. My second novel, Resthaven, takes place in an abandoned retirement home. It’s not based on any place in particular, but I did scour the internet for floor plans of existing buildings so I had something tangible to reference while I wrote.
I love the idea of getting inspiration from visiting a real place, such as a cemetery.
Considering you live in the cornfield capital of America, it’s no wonder you love horror. What’s your favourite horror movie and do you find cornfields creepy?
It’s difficult to narrow it down to one, but a few that come to mind are The Shining, Let the Right One In, and 28 Days Later. I’m also a huge fan of comedy horror like The Final Girls, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, and—of course—Shaun of the Dead. As far as cornfields go, I haven’t ventured into one since reading Children of the Corn. Thanks so much, Mr. King.
So, tell us about the runaway you harbored. 🙂
Back in my impressionable high school days, I ran with the “bad kids” and didn’t always make the best choices. There was a girl in our group that I liked, who—unknown to me—lived in a halfway house. On the fateful night in question, she and a friend left the halfway house and needed a place to stay. I obliged and let them sneak in through our basement window. The plan was for them to sleep on the floor, but shortly after arriving, my mother came to investigate the female voices drifting upstairs. Needless to say, the night didn’t end well for anyone involved.
When you were playing in a band, did you use your writing skills to write lyrics? And if so, how much does that differ from writing without the added element of music to consider?
Most of the lyrics were written by our band’s lead singer, Damian (yes, that’s his real name), but once in a while the other band members would contribute. I quickly learned that writing a song is basically the same as writing a short story, and since we were a metal band—and at that time I wrote horror stories—it wasn’t too much of a stretch.
That would actually have been a good fit lol.
What led you into writing?
When I was a child I loved to draw, and everyone thought I would be an artist. When I reached my teens, my interests shifted to music and writing. One of the challenges of being in a band was relying on others to accomplish goals, and I preferred the solidarity of writing. I don’t think anyone was surprised when I quit music and began my first novel.
Which books/authors have influenced your writing?
I often joke that I “learned to write by reading Stephen King,” but it’s the absolute truth. I discovered the book Misery in junior high and immediately began crafting my own tales of horror. Most were pretty lousy, but the more King I devoured, the more respectable my writing became. Eventually I moved away from the “supernatural elements” and found my own style and voice.
I used to love reading Stephen King. One of my go-to authors when I was in high school.
Are you disciplined with your writing — set times each day — or do you just write when you find time in between other things?
It can be a challenge to maintain a routine—especially with a wife, two teenagers, and a full-time day job—so the majority of my writing is accomplished during evenings and weekends. If I’m especially inspired, I might try to sneak in some pages over lunch. The important thing (for me) is to try and write every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
Can you tell us about your first two books, Resthaven and Mortom?
Mortom is about a guy who inherits his deceased cousin’s house and finds a key with a note that says: Follow Me. From there, he has to follow a series of clues to unravel the mystery. Resthaven is about a group of kids who have a scavenger hunt inside an abandoned retirement home, only to discover they’re not the only ones roaming the hallways.
Do you meticulously plot your stories, or do they just happen as you’re writing?
It always begins with an idea. If I’m lucky, the idea branches into a scene, and from there—a story. Sometimes that story can be molded into a novel. If that’s the case, I push through the first draft without an outline, but I usually create a timeline and character sketches before the next draft. For the most part I try and let my characters do what they want, and they often surprise me and drive the story in unexpected directions.
What do your children think of you being an author, and have they read your books?
My 17-year-old read Mortom, and my 13-year-old read Resthaven. I don’t think either of them was overly impressed. To them, I’m just plain old Dad—the guy who drives them to sporting events or opens his wallet when they’re short on funds.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Having a reader connect with your work. I don’t care if they laugh, cry, or throw my book across the room — if I’ve evoked any emotion, I’ve done my job.
What are you working on at the moment?
My third novel, Roam, is going through the editing process and will hopefully see publication by early next year. I’m also knee-deep into a fourth book about a father searching for his missing daughter, who might—or might not—have been kidnapped.
Sounds like intriguing things to come! Thanks so much for visiting Booktastik, and good luck with all your upcoming releases.
Read previous articleRead next article