Today I am introducing my good friend Erica Pike... Erica is one of those people that I go to when I need a shoulder to lean on and an ear to vent into. I class Erica as a diamond among the autumn leaves.
How long have you been writing?
Four years of continuous writing, but before that there were snippets of periods where I wrote fan fiction, short stories and poetry.
How do you choose which genre and flavour your story line will take, and what influences your choice?
At the moment, I only write contemporary romance with explicit adult content. What happens within those boundaries, however, varies. Sometimes I have a general idea where I want the story to go, but sometimes I just start writing and it comes to me. It’s usually at night, when I’m trying to fall asleep and my mind’s working overtime. I have to write it down or I won’t get any sleep at all. What influences my choice and story flavour (blueberry: sweet, sour, and yummy) would really just be the characters themselves.
What is your specific writing style, if any?
I write in the controversial first person present tense. I wondered if I should follow mainstream, but I had a hard time finding my voice in third person past tense. This style comes naturally to me and I’ve been told I do it well, so I’m confident enough. What it does is get me (and the reader) into the here-and-now, but also much deeper into the character. There’s no hiding what he’s feeling, thinking or planning. The mystery is all about the love interest, whose mind I never enter because I write from a single-person’s point of view.
This style is most often used in sci-fi and fantasy, but it’s been making ground in YA books. It hasn’t been done a lot in M/M. People are getting used to it though, after successful books like The Hunger Games, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Matched (all YA dystopians), so I think people are more willing to give it a chance than they were before.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about bringing a story to life?
I can’t say that I do... I’m trying to think of something, but nothing pops up. Maybe the hardest part is making it come to life in the hands of the readers – or more specifically getting it into the hands of the readers, because promoting is a jungle of do’s and don’ts! I’ve already made two big mistakes after only two weeks of being published, but I’m learning as I go.
Who is your favourite character you‘ve written to date and why?
Eric Wesley. He’s short, quick, and snazzy, but more importantly he never behaves. Honestly, I have plans for what he’s supposed to say or do, but he does the opposite. May I post a snippet to explain?
This is from A Life Without You:
“I get these flashes of stuff. Did you really soap me up in the shower?” I ask Eric who’s munching on a cookie in the cafeteria as we both work on our literary projects.
“I did,” he says with a shrug, crossing out a sentence with a red pen.
I push the meatballs around on my plate. “I wasn’t…you know…active, was I?”
“Dude, your stuff was the only thing indicating you were still alive.”
Here, this last line, my mind was saying “How should I know? I didn’t look”, but instead my fingers wrote the snippet line and the next couple of lines turned into a nice little joke. It’s things like that. He’s so unpredictable. Then the little snitch insisted I write a book about him, and he pushed me so hard that it only took a month to write (and I was giggling most of that month). Anyway, MLR just signed me up for “Absolutely Eric”, so that’s my next release from them.
Which character in your body of works was the hardest to write?
Adam Maxwell, from A Life Without You. He’s so intense, and fierce, but at the same time he’s very emotional. I needed Adam to go through some very difficult feelings, but still be very reluctant to show them.
(Adam is my favourite – I love him so much.)
Which stories have you enjoyed working on the most and why?
Absolutely Eric ;) And I mean, I absolutely enjoyed writing Eric’s book the most. For that whole month, and another month after during edits, I couldn’t be separated from my journal, because I just kept getting these funny little things for him to say and do. What people see of him in A Life Without You is only a taste. He’s a very real person, with his mistakes, shortcomings, but also his love of life and men.
(Eric comes in after Adam for me – but he is also so damn gorgeous – sigh.)
What will people come away with after reading your books?
Hopefully, a sense of realism, a few chuckles, and fond memories of likeable characters. I try to keep things as real as I can. My guys are guys, and although guys come in all shapes and sizes with a an infinite array of personalities and ways of dealing with things, guys are not girls. Or usually not. So even when I’m writing effeminate guys, or queens, I make sure they’re still guys.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Left of Center by Zathyn Priest and Totally Bound by Elizabeth Nobel. I’m a die-hard Zathyn Priest fan and his books are on auto-buy for me. His writing is so unpredictable and clever, there’s nothing else out there like it. Aussies have what it takes for me.
(New favourite of mine as well – Zathyn listen up, these same questions will be headed your way soon.)
What music is in your stereo at the moment? And does it influence the way you write?
I don’t have a stereo and I don’t have a lot of music. This is because my ex got the stereo and I used to listen to his music ;) It’s no great loss, because I can’t write with music in the background. It distracts me and makes it hard to focus. In my DVD player is Go Diego Go (my kids love it), but if I were to put music in it, it would be my favourite Icelandic pop artist Paul Oscar, who’s just super awesome and has done wonders for GLBT acceptance in Iceland over the last 20+ years.
Are you still as passionate about writing as you were when you first started?
I’m passionate about it in a different way. I wrote my very first full-length manuscript (not m/m) with blind passion, not knowing a thing about structure or style. Now I’m very passionate about developing myself in my writing by trying different things. Do I get as engaged when I start on a new project? Absolutely. And then I get a hundred of story ideas knowing I’ll never be able to write them all.
Name three Authors you read over and over again?
Zathyn Pirest, S.J. Frost, and N.J. Nielsen ;)
(I read Adam over &over even before it was released.)
Can you share any of your current WIPS?
I think I’ve talked enough about Absolutely Eric, the manuscript I’m currently editing with my MLR editor. Other than that I have four upcoming short stories from No Boundaries Press – all parts of the College Fun and Gays series where each story is independent of the others. Hot Hands was the first, about Casper who’s been a victim of sail-by goosing for weeks and wants to catch the guilty party. A Grade-A-Sex Deal come out in February about a teacher and student relationship. As for writing (not editing), I think I’ll start on a novella-length sequel to A Life Without You.
For those readers that have yet to know you please tell us something about yourself.
Hmm...I live in Iceland with my four and a half year-old twin boys. For some unexplainable reason I studied business at the uni and I’ve been taking classes at the English department for a couple of years now. I love my boys, Christmas, snow, my laptop, and I can never wear socks while I write. I’m also thinking about getting another hamster after the tragic loss of the other last December.
Other news on Erica Pike.
It just so happens that there's a giveaway of A Life Without You at "Stumbling Over Chaos" on the 18th and it'll run for a few days.
You can also find Erica at these places: