Since then we have become friends and today I am pleased to feature an interview with Eryn. Later this week I will post my review of her new book.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was in high school when the writing bug hit. I always tell the story about how I would write about the New Kids on the Block, but actually those weren’t the only “books” I wrote back then. My senior year my best friend and I did our senior project together, where we wrote and illustrated a children’s book. We even had it bound and presented it to the kindergarten class. It was titled The Grafted Tree and it was about a little girl who was adopted and her branch of the family tree was grafted to the rest of the family’s. It was very sweet. I think my mother has it somewhere; I should go look for it.
How long does it take you to write a book?
You know, I don’t know. My first two books took years upon years to complete, but that was between school and work and a twenty-something’s social life, so it’s hard to gauge. I think the closest number I can come up with is three months. When I decided to try and pursue publication of Beneath the Wall, the manuscript was very green, so I actually went to the very beginning page by page editing it as well as changing it from third person to first so it was more realistically like a journal.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have to feel like I’m in place where I’m writing. So if I’m writing in the 1960s, I put on the music from that time. Or I’ll have to take a walk in the woods, if my next scene is in the woodlands. The oddest thing I ever did was go to a butcher shop to smell blood so I could describe accurately what stenches I was picking up. In my eyes, I see no other way to put myself in the story than to experience the same things my characters do.
What do you think is the best way of publishing a book these days?
Well, I have a lot of friends who are self-published and it really seems to be the best way to be in control of all the circumstances of your book. I can totally see the draw to creating your work like that. But the down side is that I’ve heard it cost a bit more to do everything by yourself. For myself, I wanted to be published the old fashioned way. I wanted to be chosen. I really just wanted that special feeling of knowing that someone read my work and wanted to give me a chance.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to be published except for the person who just haphazardly throws their book on Amazon and hopes to sell a million copies. Do you research, see what avenue is best for you and then research some more so you won’t be taken advantage of. That’s my best advice on that matter.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Oh my gosh, everywhere! I research everywhere from books to documentaries to websites. I’ve also gone to museums or have called specific places to get the accurate details I’m looking for. But my favorite way to get information is meeting people and hearing their accounts on my subject. In the case of Beneath the Wall, I spoke to a lot of veterans. Some are very eager to tell me everything they went through and others just smile and nod, not wanting to dive into their memories. I don’t push or prod, those men and women earned every right not to talk to me, so I’m fine. But for those who did speak with me, those real-life stories are the ones that helped me put the extra depth into my book, making it what it is today.
When did you write your first book?
My very first book would be the children’s story I mentioned earlier written while I was in high school, but Beneath the Wall, my first one published, I started in 1994. It sat on my shelf and it wasn’t until last year when I worked on it again, cleaning it up and finally sent it out to agents and publishers to be considered for publication.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m a mother to a very active five-year son, so that would be playing. We play all the time! We love to hike, ride bikes, play ball and I’ve participated in many a Mario Brothers tournament or two with him. I have a loving husband too, and my favorite thing to do is just be together. Now that my son is in kindergarten we all have such busy personal schedules, so the nights we can sit together with a movie or go out to eat and just talk are the very best times ever.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That would have to be, how much writing has changed over the years and I hadn’t even picked up on it. When I was younger, I read a lot of Jude Deveraux and now that I’ve learned so many new rules in writing, I’ll go back and read something of hers and start thinking, ‘ut oh she has too many adverbs.’ It’s just funny and interesting how times have changed and I’m trying to learn all the new ins and outs of the writing world.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have four to date. Beneath the Wall is the only one published, but I also have The Blue Lute, the untitled sequel to The Blue Lute and one that I affectionately call my World War II Fairy Tale. Right now, Beneath the Wall is my favorite. I’m even rereading it – in printed form – despite the fact that I’ve read it a million times already. I’m getting a thrill over reading my actual bound book it’s so surreal!
Can you tell me and your readers something about your main characters?
Julianne Parker is my heroine; she’s a journalist for the newspaper The Village Voice who volunteers to report from Vietnam and reside in a Marine camp stationed in Da Nang. She’s a feisty red-headed woman, stubborn as all get out, but determined to find her place amongst the men. She has an amazing heart on top of all that and is often found taking the side of the downtrodden or bullied.
Sergeant Mack Roberts is the muscle-bound, half-Asian American hero, who is in Vietnam not only fighting for his country but also fighting those in the camp who think he should be more at home in the villages rather than the Marine camp. He tries to ignore the comments and actions of the other men, but he still has feelings despite his hard exterior. Mack is always trying to be the upstanding, perfect soldier, but one person in the camp breaks his control enough to bring out his softer side. One guess who that is?
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have and I love it! I’ve had such wonderful responses and reviews and it still shocks me how much they all love the people I created. Not that I expect people to bash my work, but I’m still waiting to hear someone say, ‘Oh I hated it’. But no one has. I hope they aren’t all being nice for the sake of my feelings, I much prefer honesty and I believe the people who have commented are being honest and I thank you SO much for beautiful words!
What do you think makes a good story?
This is funny but the first thing I look for are good names. I do! If I don’t like the names, I can’t read it. There was one Jude Deveraux book where the hero’s name was ‘Hring. I had no idea how to pronounce it so I never got through it. Two pages in and I was annoyed.
But overall I look for an exciting setting, engaging characters and a sigh-worthy love story.
What are your favorite book genres in writing and reading? Why?
Historical fiction is my favorite to write and read. I love being transported through time in a story. I still read contemporary, but the plot has to have something exciting in it. For instances Christina, your book, The Teacher’s Billionaire, which I just finished this morning, caught me with the Presidential candidate as Callie’s father. It really interested me and the rest of the story flowed from there. Good job, by the way! I loved it.
Who are you favorite authors to read?
Well, as you can tell from my interview, I really like Jude Deveraux, mostly her older books though. The Montgomery and Taggerts are some of my most favorite characters. I also love Vicki Lewis Thompson, her nerd-heroes and smoking hot cowboys are awesome!
Thanks so much for visiting us today, Eryn. Best of luck with your career.
Want to learn more about Eryn?
And be sure to come back later this week for my review of Beneath The Wall.
Eryn's debut novel Beneath the Wall is available now.
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