A Whole Lot of Fun Chatting with Eric and just in time for Spooky Season!
Eric, your horror writing is thoroughly entertaining as well as inspirational for writers like me exploring the genre. How did you get started and who inspired you?
Well, I never thought I would be a horror writer, if I’m being honest! I got this idea for a man who is working a graveyard shift in a crummy gas station, and what would happen if he saw a chance to get out. That is where it all started, and it snowballed from there. I haven’t read a ton of horror, but I’ve seen nearly all the horror movies that have ever been made. I’ve also gone to the hardcore haunted houses, and do things like that, so I think I write from experiences of what makes me scared!
D.L. I love the idea of inspiration from haunted houses! And subjecting yourself to scary experiences to write about them. I must know. What’s the difference between hardcore haunted events and the average Halloween neighborhood fete?
Well, I would have to say your blood pressure for starters! There is something about walking down tight, poorly lit corridors and not knowing if the things around you are actors or props… it can be really terrifying! It is generally geared for an 18+ crowd, so things can get pretty tense!
I’m excited about my preordered copy of Haunt coming out September 30, another great anthology from Dragon Soul Press, and even better, one of your stories will be part of it. Can you give us a sneak peek and tell us about the indie press and what they do?
My short story is called, ‘Graveyard Shift’ and is told in the first person by a man named Alex. He is down on his luck and a stranger comes in to offer him the world. He unwittingly makes a deal and then things get a bit tricky for dear ol’ Alex. I also have 2 others, ‘Everglades’ and ‘As you Wish…’, being released by Dragon Soul Press in their upcoming Anthology ‘Beautiful Darkness: Volume 1’ this October! They have been AMAZING to work with. They are incredibly professional, and I am hoping I can work with them for a long time!
D. L. Congratulations, Eric! After your recommendation, I looked at all the anthologies Dragon Soul Press has in the works. So many great options for submission. Our readers can check them out here. You can also click on the photos of Eric’s books to link to the preorders on Amazon!
I enjoyed the stories on your blog so much. Where else can we find your work, and what are your works in progress and plans for them?
I keep all of my stories on my site (totally free) and then have the stories being released September 30 and October 30 with Dragon Soul Press. I have about a million projects in the works! There is my main WIP called ‘Into the Grey’ that is about a secret society of mages that protects near future England from demon invasion from a parallel world ruled by a dark king. I also have a horror novel in the works called Wetlands that is a coming-of-age story about a boy in a small town who befriends a swamp creature to stop the new company in town from polluting the local area. Think Stand by Me meets Swamp Thing.
D. L. Those sound amazing, and it’s clear how much you’re enjoying spinning the tales. Can’t wait to read them. You can find Eric’s stories here.
What are some of your favorite characters in your stories, and why?
I really feel for Alex in Graveyard Shift. I think he is like me in a lot of ways, so it is hard to not like him a little!
I also love my characters in my novels. Ronnie from Into the Grey is a total ham, and really fun to write. They all hold special homes in my heart. I guess my heart is more or less a hotel whose tenants feature in all of my stories. They are all a tiny part of me (even the bad ones) so it’s hard to choose any one over the others!
D. L. Thanks for that revelation, which I think a lot of writers can relate to. Do you have a character brooding in that hotel that has yet to find a story?
I do actually! He’s just checked in though, so I don’t know much about him other than that he is without magic in a magic filled world. He’s shunned to outside the magical dome that protects the city from harmful spores in the air and joins the other outcasts to plan a way back into the city. I’m looking forward to this one, as it’s been on the back burner for some time!
D. L. Okay. Now I am, too. You’ll have to keep me posted!
One of the things I love asking writers is how they organize their writing life in harmony with family and other work. Do you have any favorite stories or tips you like to offer burgeoning writers?
Oh boy. My biggest and most often piece of advice is really simple.
“Don’t give up. Don’t stop writing.”
A break is alright, and there are always going to be times when you simply can’t write, but more or less, that is my advice to others. It might feel hard, it might be total poo on the page, but don’t stop. Write short stories. if you need a break from your main project. They’re a lot less strain on the cranium than a 100,000+ word novel, I can tell you that for sure!
I like to write between 9 and 10:30 (later if I’m on a roll) every Tuesday and Thursday and then any other day I get the chance. I know! It seems like a minuscule amount of time, but I’ve managed to write about 200,000 words in the last year by doing this, so it works well! I don’t spend a lot of time staring at a blank screen either. When you only have 3-4 hours set aside for writing each week, you make them count!
D. L. Great advice. And that is so helpful to know how much can get done on a schedule like that. Thanks!
When I first discovered you, it was through a Twitter post you shared about one of Richie Billing’s classes. He’s the man behind the Fantasy Writer’s Tool Shed podcast. It’s amazing how that one post of yours introduced me to so many fellow writers on Richie’s Discord group, and you are a key facilitator. Now, of course, I have a much better understanding of the robust writing community on social media and all the generous writers and creators who share. How did you get involved with it, and why do you think online writing communities are beneficial?
Much the same as you, actually! I was looking for a fantasy writing podcast and came across Richie’s. I joined his community and then the rest is history! I really felt alone before the chat and joining the writing community. I appreciate everything my family does to help support me as a writer, but they don’t always have the patience to deal with my writing. I’m sure most writers can relate. The look in the eyes from family and friends when you ask, “but why did you like it?” Like a deer in the headlights with flashbacks of standing in front of the class to give book reports! So, it is really nice to have peers.
D. L. The headlights analogy is hilarious and so true! And just put things in perspective for me. I was giving my family work to do, not just seeking an opinion.
Along those same lines, are there writing/book communities available locally in Alberta, Canada? If not, do you think there should be, or is online involvement where it’s at these days?
There certainly is. We have a writer’s guild in Alberta even! It is the biggest in Canada from what I’ve seen.
That being said, I think that online is where it’s at. If not for online, I would be talking to my Captain America poster. Asking if he thinks I should make my chapters shorter or if the villain is villainy enough. He would tell me that my antagonist is no Red Skull. There’d be an argument…
Anyway, I’m happy for all my online writing buddies!
D. L. LOL! Now I’m going to be looking for that scene in one of your stories!
This is a great opportunity to talk about the Fantasy Sci Fi Writers Alliance. What a great idea you had and it’s growing fast. Tell us what it’s about and the benefits of joining.
WELL! I can’t take credit for the idea. Anna Moss (The Worthy out now) is the person who first talked about it with me. She had mentioned forming one and I was game. Then, when people were discussing how difficult social media is and the struggles of being an author on Richie’s chat, I pitched the idea, and it blew up.
The Fantasy & Sci-Fi Writers Alliance is a group (150 and going strong) of writers who help to support each other on social media to boost reach with readers and meet fellow writers. That may be an oversimplification, but that is more or less the bones of it! So, if you want to join and do Instagram Trains, Twitter Writer Lifts, Book Clubs and (soon) Writing Sprints then check out the form on my website and join us! The more the merrier.
D. L. Here’s the link! And… Our readers can meet Anna here next month!
Sometimes I find it hard to make time for sharing and promoting online when there are so many places available to participate. Do you have any tips for sorting through the noise and making your time count, so you don’t cut into writing time?
If I had the key for this. Boy, oh boy.
Finding balance is probably the hardest thing about writing. Not only do you have to write, but you need to market as well. A task that holds little to no guarantees. You can work at it for ages and get nowhere, and then do a small video and get a thousand views. A lot of the time there is no rhyme or reason to any of it, and the target seems to move constantly.
What I DO know for sure, is that doing all those things is a lot easier when you have a band…no, a group…wait. An alliance, to help you with it. That is more or less the core of starting the alliance. You can ask, ‘how the heck do I format this thing for kindle?’ or ‘is this thing on Insta legit?’ and not have to spend a hundred hours wondering/worrying/working on a solution.
D. L. Great advice. Thank you!
What has been your biggest highlight of the last year?
Getting Graveyard Shift published! That said, finishing my first draft for Into the Grey was pretty incredible as well.
Where do you want to be as a writer in five years?
Ideally? Hanging out with Neil Gaiman. More realistically though, I would like to be totally finished with Into the Grey, as well as have a dozen more short story publications under my belt. I would like to have an agent and to be finding a home for my work.
D. L. Great goals! And maybe we can get Richie to invite Mr. Gaiman to a chat on his podcast. Hmmm…
Any parting advice to those who dream about writing?
Don’t stop. Never stop writing. It may be ‘poo on the page’ to start, but one day you will make something amazing. I would also say that you should watch Neil Gaiman’s address to the University of the Arts from 2012, the Brandon Sanderson lectures on Youtube, and read On Writing by Stephen King. These things have helped shape me into the writer I am today.
D. L. Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Eric. All the best in your endeavors!
Thanks again for having me! This has been such fun!
Click on photos for links to Eric’s anthology books on preorder, his short stories, and more about him on his website.