I return! A new week, a new survivor to rise out of the ashes 🙂 Let’s just get right down to it today. Our interview this time is with Josh Erikson, author of Hero Forged. He is also as of this moment an SPFBO semi-finalist! Come check out his book by clicking the link down below:
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Urban/Contemporary Fantasy for publishing. Several other genres in Fantasy and Sci-Fi for poking at and mumbling “some day…” over.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I’m a character-first kinda guy. Then I carve out a concept for those people to play in. But I generally only draw the broadest strokes before getting too excited and diving into the real writing. 90% of my stories happen organically as I go (apart from the big plot points and secrets) and that tends to result in a nice mix of structure and nonsense that feels “real” to me. I like grown stories rather than built ones.
Tell us about your current project.
I’m working on the second draft of book two in the Ethereal Earth series with the goal of getting it out Fall or early Winter of 2018.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels?
And tell me a little bit about them! Gabriel Delling is the main POV. He’s a mediocre con artist in his 30s who has lived his entire adult life avoiding anything resembling responsibility or commitment. He coasts on wit and charm whenever he can and runs away when he can’t. But he also has this dark background that unfolds in bits as the story progresses, and buried somewhere in there he might have just enough fragments of virtue to piece together a reasonable facsimile of heroism.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
The advice is always, “Read a lot, write a lot.” And that’s so true it’s tough to come up with something original. But you also have to focus on enduring–with the process and with yourself. Don’t stop for anything that won’t improve your art, and never let the self-doubt smother you. Education is great and talent is fine. Time, research, connections, and a killer idea are all very important. But none of it matters unless you keep going.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Hero Forged is a Contemporary Fantasy based in a real city (Lincoln, Nebraska) so there are a bunch of real-life inspirations in there. All appropriately fictionalized to keep the lawyers at bay, of course.
What inspires you to write?
Everything. Anything. Books, movies, art, music, a funny conversation, the way some guy softly curses to himself as he intently studies a can of yams–it’s all fertile ground. I’m one of those annoying, wide-eyed optimists who believes that creative energy is just waiting out there for you to grab. I usually just have to open that part of my brain and something interesting stumbles in.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Discipline. Hero Forged is my first published book, but I wrote another before it. That was my “training” book and it took me three years to finish. In fairness, it is 270,000 words, so…yeah. For this one, I wanted to prove that I could attempt writing as a career, which meant finishing in a more reasonable time. I had to get into a more consistent writing habit and improve my daily productivity while still pushing myself to crank up the quality. Many video games did not get played as a result, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay now.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The dialogue. Normally it’s such a tough thing to get right, but in this book it came pretty easily. The two main characters are so fun and snarky that it became a game for me to see who could best the other in the next conversation. I actually had to cut a bunch of good stuff in the last draft because I’d get carried away when the lines were really flowing and lose track of pressing the action forward. In another universe, those two are just sitting in a coffee shop trading jabs and completely ignoring the eldritch apocalypse happening outside the window.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Some of my limitations and how to fake my way past them. When starting out, I just assumed I knew how to write and that it was basically a universal set of skills. But I quickly learned how varied each individual tool box can be–even when achieving the same end. I’m generally pretty good at humor, metaphor, and vocabulary, so I definitely learned how to best use those things as a bit of prestidigitation to keep the reader’s eye occupied while I slipped some grammatical and stylistic shortcomings back up my sleeve.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I’m a discovery writer (pantser, if you like) so I tend to let the characters reveal themselves to me as I go. It does mean I have to build the story up in layers over the course of several drafts to get in that nice foreshadowing and consistency, but it also means that every character in the book ends up feeling like a very real person to me. The hope is that the readers feel the same!
What are your future project(s)?
After I send the second book out to my editor, I’m going to work on a near-future Sci-Fi series that I’ve been toying with for a while. The Ethereal Earth books are long(ish) at 135k words, and I’d like to try something shorter for the people who prefer that kind of thing. The hope is that I can leapfrog the books in the two series so I always have something queued up at some stage in the process.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
It’s weird, but a singer. It’s something I do reasonably well and really enjoy but never pursued. I guess it didn’t seem like a practical option. So naturally, here I am now self-publishing a story about a dude trying to snark his way past monsters. MUCH safer career choice.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
Facebook is great: https://www.facebook.com/EtherealEarthSeries/
Email is good too: Josherikson@gmail.com
And my personal website is always there, with a mailing list and everything: www.josherikson.com
And finally, Goodreads gets checked several times a week, so I’m bound to catch your comment or review if you’re awesome enough to leave one! https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18049265.Josh_Erikson
And to check out my entry for SPFBP 4, Hero Forged, Amazon is the way to go! http://a.co/0LvsYKK
Many thanks for the interview Josh! As for next interview. . .let’s just say we have the Lord of Grimdark himself attending the podium.