Erica, thank you for taking some down time and spending it with us. Let’s start this off with a beverage. We have coffee, tea, some sort of juice (I think it’s been in here a few weeks) and soda. What would you like?
Actually, I prefer water. Carbonated is fine, thank you.
Charles, bubbly water please! Erica, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I live in Iceland and am a purebred Icelander. Obviously, “Erica Pike” isn’t my real name – which is thirty letters long, spaces not included, and sounds a lot like Klingon. I recently moved back to the small town I grew up in, and it’s nicer here than I remembered. I live alone with my little twins, both boys, and write books. I have a bachelor’s degree in business (focus on marketing and management) and I’ve studied bits of other things at a university level, like English and programming.
After the huge smile left (or maybe it was still plastered on my face) I believe I may have said something like “YES!”. I had faith in my manuscript, but I didn’t expect to be accepted by the first place I queried.
What forces brought you over to the MM Genre and what made you want to write it?
I was writing YA and middle grade manuscripts before I wrote gay romances. I signed up for netgalley.com to review books. Out of curiosity, I applied for several M/M books. I got denied, but then one took a chance on me and gave me a review copy of Spice ‘n’ Solace by KC Burn. I was hooked after that.
Would you care for some cookies? We have chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal with or without raisins and a package of mystery ones. We have cake too. Your choice.
Oooh, oatmeal, please! With raisins.
Yes, they are delicious! Charles! Oatmeal with the raisins!
Erica, how many hours a day do you spending writing?
Now I’m supposed to do the writerly thing and say eight hours every single day, but that’s not me. The thing is that I have depression and anxieties issues that I’m trying to work through. It’s a never ending process! It also means that I have difficulty focusing and I get tired very easily. Some days I can’t write anything at all while other days I manage just fine. I just try to grab onto those days when I can write and try to make the most of them.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I revise as I go. My mind is continually spinning as I write and although I won’t stop in the middle of a scene to fix something I’ve written before, I make a note and fix it before I stop writing.
I have a general idea of where the plot is going, otherwise I let my fingers do the work. I’ve tried plotting a whole book but found that I always strayed and I felt too boxed in to be creative. Writing freely feels more natural to me. I’ll do the research before, during and after – whichever is needed.
Of your characters do you have a favorite and why?
Eric Wesley from Absolutely Eric. He is such a lively and huge character that after I finished writing A Life Without You (where he’s a friend of the MC, and a serious scene thief), I wrote his very own book in only five weeks. I’d never had more fun writing and chuckled my way through the manuscript. He’s fabulous, to-your-face, but also very impulsive, which is why he gets himself into a big pickle in Absolutely Eric. He also has a very big heart and is the best friend you’ll ever have.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
I wouldn’t say I get writer’s blocks. It’s more that I have difficulty focusing some days. Or wait, I did have that huge writer’s block last year that lasted for six months and came about because I felt like I needed to please everyone. When I realized that I can’t write anything good unless I’m writing the way I write and the material that I want to write, I was able to write again.
Do you have a particular spot in your house that you call your comfy zone? (The place where you write.)
The living room. I sometimes write sitting in the sofa…until I get too comfortable and start to doze off. Then I sit by the kitchen table. The office is where I keep my piles of papery junk.
When you’re in the mindset to write, do you put a sign up that warns others not to disturb you while at work?
I only write when my boys aren’t at home, otherwise there’s no one to disturb me. My boys are five years old and starting school next fall. They spend their days at the preschool.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I can be a bit sarcastic, laughing at other people’s embarrassing misfortunes, though only if they’re relaying those misfortunes to me and are laughing themselves. I’m not evil enough to laugh at total strangers’ misfortunes, but if it’s a friend… Good-natured jibes and friendly teasing comes naturally to me. I very often click well with Australians, who seem to have a very Icelandic humor.
What is the most frequently asked Erica question?
“When’s the next book coming out?” I’m flattered! I really am, but I don’t handle pressure very well due to my illness, so that question, while making me grin like an idiot, sometimes makes it hard for me to write.
What are you working on now?
A number of things, actually. I decided that I’m not going to name a specific project in public anymore because then people will be waiting and I don’t know exactly when I can deliver. However, it’s already known that I’m working on the third Boston Boys book (the one that features Jazz) and I’m readying my two remaining College Fun and Gays stories for publishing. I’ve also announced that I’ll be writing a sequel to A Life Without You, but I haven’t started on that. Those are all contemporary romances.
I’ve recently caught a new bug to ride though, but I won’t say exactly what it is. Just that I’m reading, watching, and studying a lot of post-apocalyptic material.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
By reading and truly cling onto what I’m interested in at the moment. I found that I can’t write by demand, which is why you’ll rarely see me writing for anthologies unless I’m truly motivated. It has to be something I’m very, very interested in. As for inspiration from reading, it can be a single sentence that sets off a blot bunny, or a direction I thought the books was going to take, but didn’t, and it’ll develop into a whole new story with different characters, story world etc. It can be a picture or a situation I hear about or witness. Okay, that’s all about inspiration, what you are asking about is maintaining the creative “sparkle”. Reading.
What kind of books do you like to read outside of the MM Genre?
Er, I don’t. Not at the moment, anyway. I have a stack of YA post-apocalyptic/dystopian books on my desk that my cousin loaned me, but they’ve remained unread for months. I’m reading a lot of MM post-apoc/dystopian books though.
Pick one: Scientist, Astronaut, Retail, or Horse Trainer-
I want to say Horse Trainer, but since I’m allergic to horses I’ll go with Scientist. I’m a bit of a sci-fi geek.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Reading? Really, I live a very simple life, hehe. I browse the internet, watch sci-fi movies, and take care of my kids. I do enjoy meeting up with my cousins and going to the movies once in a while. There really isn’t much to do in Iceland. I used to do belly dancing and taekwondo, but that was some years back. I do enjoy clubbing, but find that I’m getting old(er!), so I’m pretty much dead the day after (even though I don’t drink alcohol).
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
The only two that I have (almost) ready are the two College Fun and Gays stories: Welcome Brother (ready for querying) and Cold Hands (just needs a bit of edits and beta reading). So if you’re actually waiting, those will be next.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
All over the place! I practically live there:
It was a pleasure having you here with us today. Please come by and let us know how you’re doing from time to time. OH! And before you leave, can I get your help here in the kitchen? Thanks!!
Thank you! Wait, what?? I have to clean up after myself? Oh well, as long as it’s not in my own home…
No, Darling, we are going to watch Charles do the work. This is the best part!