Above All Men, his writing process, his biggest influences, and more, on Dashboard Citizen:Permalink
“Eric recently took some time to talk to Dashboard Citizen about his upcoming novel and writing in general.
DC: We’ll start with the most important news: you’ve got a novel coming out soon – tell us all about it.
ES: Above All Men is the story of David Parrish, a war veteran and farmer trying to keep his family and farm together in the wake of the economic collapse of America. That’s about as precise an elevator pitch as I can whittle down. There’s a lot more to it, of course. Murder, meth, dust storms, and a heavy dose of war-induced trauma. The heart of the story is David’s struggle to protect his son from this world that’s changing for the worse. What David doesn’t understand is that his various drives — guarding his son, teaching by example, helping his fellow man — are at odds with one another. Before long, these drives explode.
DC: Level with us – how difficult was it writing Above All Men?
ES: Being a writer — and writing a book — would be a lot harder if I didn’t think it was the only thing on this planet I could do. I take a lot of solace in that belief, and because of that, writing Above All Men was a joy. It was hard, often, and the work that came after writing it was even harder. But overall, it’s probably been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Putting in an eight hour day, walking home exhausted and half-blind, I loved that. And still do.
DC: How would you describe your writing style?
ES: Sparse, yet poetic.
DC: What’s been the high point of your literary career? The low point?
ES: I think every recent day, and probably some days yet to come, has been/will continue to be the high point of my literary career — the book is still getting steam, after all. The low point was not too long before I got word the book was getting picked up. I was running out of money in Lincoln, Nebraska, trying to choose between wine and toilet paper. That’s about as low as I’ve gotten.
DC: Do you have any writing rituals?
ES: No, though that would depend on how you define ritual. I have a very specific process, but nothing about it takes on a totemic significance. I do make a playlist for every long work I write, and that does tend to be a bit of a ritual, I suppose.
DC: You’re stuck on a deserted island and can only bring three books to read … what’re your choices?
ES: Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream, and McCarthy’s Suttree. Those are the two books I always come back to. I don’t need the third. Can I trade that in for some whiskey?
DC: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
ES: Not really. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a ghostbuster. Around eighteen or nineteen, I think I’d decided that I wanted to write, though I wasn’t sure what, exactly, for a couple more years.
DC: Who’ve been your biggest literary and non-literary influences?
ES: Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, and Marilynne Robinson are my biggest literary influences. Outside of literature, Tom Waits is my biggest influence. I’m not sure that comes through in Above All Men, though it probably will in my next book.
DC: We hear you’re going on a book tour. What’re your expectations for the trip?
ES: I’m hoping that, after the first few stops, I’ll be able to issue a rider. Get some groupies. I’d like to inject some rock & roll opulence into literature.
DC: Do you write every day?
ES: I try my best to work every day — whether that means writing or editing — but that’s not always what happens. When I’m writing the first draft of a book I put in nearly full-time hours, five or six days a week.
DC: We see you’ve lived all over the United States. Which city’s your favorite?
ES: I haven’t lived in my favorite city. I think my favorite overall would be Santa Fe, but my favorite that I’ve lived in is easily Athens, Ohio. I like a good drinking town. I like good food, good bars, and some kind of cultural scene. Both Athens and Santa Fe have very distinctive looks to them, too, which is nice.
DC: What’s your favorite cocktail?
ES: I drink my bourbon neat. If you’ve got good bourbon, you don’t need to add anything.
DC: What’s something not many people know about you?
ES: I have a BA in East Asian Studies, and can speak a little Japanese.
DC: What’re your goals for Above All Men?
ES: There’s a dissonance in my expectations. There’s what it can do as a work of literature, and what it can do for my career. I want people to read it, and love it, and talk about it — to have it change them in some way, regardless of sales. That’s the purist in me. I also want it to launch me onto everyone’s most-anticipated/loved/hated/bought lists, so I can buy some land and build a house. Both halves, together, would be fantastic. Realistically, I’ll be tickled if it puts me in a good position for my next book.
For more information about Eric and his work, you can reach him through his website and Twitter. If you’re interested in pre-ordering Above All Men, head right here.”