Welcome back everyone. Today, Karl Erickson has come from his home in Oregon to visit with us.
Karl, why don’t you get us started with a little about yourself, and where you come from?
- I grew up in Yakima, Washington.
- I married young, and we’re coming up on 25-years married later this year. We have two kids: Sarah and Stephen. We also own a Newfoundland, and he’s a handful. I describe Chester as being like a 150-lb baby. Anyway, I’ve been working for the State of Oregon since 1997. I do my writing on the side. So far, I’ve written two children’s books and my new mystery, The Blood Cries Out.
What sparked your interest in writing?
- Yes, being read to as a child was very important, I think. It set me on this particular path.
- [I have] been writing since high school, but I didn’t start seeing things getting published until about 2002. I write because I feel the need to do so. I guess you could say it’s who I am.
- [I felt that I was a writer] in college. I realized that this was what I really wanted to do as soon as I started in at Seattle Pacific University. It took longer, though, to figure out how I was going to do it. I decided early on that it would be on the side of my day job until such a time that my writing could support our lifestyle.
- Tristan’s Travels really took form out of stories I would spontaneously tell our kids. I took the parts that drew the most laughter and used that as my starting point. It was also important to me to deal with some real life issues in my books for kids. That’s why my first book really explores overcoming fears for children. This was a problem for me as a kid, after all, and I wanted to write about something that felt true and authentic.
Do you have any books that inspired you, or influenced your life?
- Well, in the fiction realm, I’d say that Hemmingway, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien have been a strong influence on me. If I feel myself heading towards a writer’s block moment, I’ll often go pick up a copy of Lord of the Rings.
- I’d have to say C.S. Lewis [is my favorite]. Authentic and wise are words I’d use to describe this author.
::Nods:: Tolkien is one of my favorites too. Did that influence help you develop your own writing style?
- I’ve been told it reminds people of Hemmingway, and I think I’d take that as a compliment. I try to focus on creating a strong sense of place through description, and I try to keep things as real as possible.
Could Hemmingway be considered one of your mentors, or is there someone else who fits the role for you?
- I suppose C.S. Lewis. He wrote about the importance of respecting your audience. Even if you’re writing for kids, you need to respect them. That means not only do you give them strong content, but you also don’t talk down to them.
With a penchant for the classics, are there any new authors who have caught your attention, or whom you have/are reading now?
- Yes, one writer I really enjoy is Alec Merta. He wrote From Here to Nearly There, which is a great piece of fiction. I’m really looking forward to the next in the series.
- [Right now I’m reading] The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, edited by John Steinbeck. It’s marvelous.
With two different genre of books, I’m sure you are kept busy adding to your backlist catalog. Are you at a point where you can share some current news, or talk about your next big project?
- Returning to school! J
- I decided to finish something I started back in 1987. I’m returning to school. Going to finish my degree at Marylhurst University. I’ve already been accepted into their English Literature and New Media program.
Welcome back to Academia. Slogging through that now myself.
When you were writing, did you include any messages in your books for readers to find?
- There are messages, but it’s a great story first and foremost. The themes took flesh as the story developed.
::Chuckles:: That happened with me as well. What about your titles? Did the book provide them, or do you have a method for selecting them?
- It grew out of the sixth chapter, which I actually wrote first. I wanted to emphasize the value of human life.
Interesting. How did you get a cover that tied into your title so well? Did you develop it yourself, or work with someone?
- My wife, Kimberly Erickson, designs my covers. She’s an artist…so we make a great team.
Did you have any help outside of the immediate family, then?
- We joined the Catholic Church ten years ago. That’s been a decision we never regretted. We feel closer to God and closer to each other. It’s also nice to be done with the “church shopping.”
When you are writing, how much do you base the story on reality or your own experiences?
- Most of the book is very realistic. I’ve been to the places described in the book, and I also did a lot of research into police procedures in the process of writing the tale. For me, realism is critically important, if you want the reader to stay with you.
- The terrible family secret described in the sixth chapter is similar to what happened to a friend’s family.
When you graduate, do you see writing as your career, or will it have to remain a hobby business for you a while longer?
- Yes, [I do see it as my career,] but it’s going to be second to my day job—unless I get a bestseller one of these years.
Perfectly understandable. Something needs to pay the bills regularly.
From your journey so far, are you able to share any of the challenges or difficulties you have encountered, or learned from?
- Edit, edit, and edit some more. Find a good editor. Don’t try to do it all yourself—if you’re like me anyway.
- Editing is not my strength. I can do it well for others, but I can’t seem to edit my own work as well as I edit the work of others.
- With my last work, it was hard to make time to write and edit. If money weren’t an issue, I could easily spend most of my time writing. I guess we all could use more hours in the day!
::Chuckles:: How very, very true. Looking back, if you were to start your journey over with what you know now, would you do anything differently?
- I probably would have worked harder at going with a traditional publisher. I went with a hybrid publisher instead, and it may not have been the best decision.
And, now, for the elephant in the room. What advice do you offer for other new authors?
- Keep writing, reading, and learning. If you have a weak area in your craft, take the time to improve yourself. After all, how can you expect others to take your work seriously, if you don’t do the same?
Karl, thank you so much for stopping by. Before I wrap this up, do you have any last words for our readers, or your fans?
- Thank you!
And, thank you. It has been fun getting to know you a little better. And, an interesting experience to meet fellow student. I look forward to hearing that you’ve had your first best seller of many.
If you wish me to host an interview for you, please feel free to stop by my offered services page and send me a submission. I will be glad to discuss specific details with you.
One last thing – mark your calendars, because Karl will be returning with David Lightholler from The Blood Cries Out in a couple of days.
In the mean time, happy reading!