A Conversation with Author Erik Hertwig – PART 2

  • Do you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers? I do read the reviews but I have not replied to any.  I make my email address available for people who do have questions.

 

  • Does a bad review affect your writing? Reviews that appear within the book are often paid for.  Reviews that happen in places like Amazon or other book sellers you have no control over.  People have their issues and there is nothing that you as a writer can do anything about so in that way they do not.  Criticism that leads to positive change is always appreciated however.

 

  • Any advice you would like to give to your younger self? I always felt I needed to be successful in my job or career to afford me the opportunity to write.  I wasted many of my creative years focusing on jobs and income rather than on my own work or creativity.  If I were asked to speak at a graduation ceremony this would definitely come up.

 

  • Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers? It would be the same advice I would give my younger self.  Write today, write tomorrow, write for you, write for others, so when the times comes to publish you have a trove of writing to fall back on and improve.

 

  • What did you want to become when you were a kid? I have always wanted to become a children’s book author.

 

  • Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read? The first book I ever read was a Dr. Seuss book.  The first novel I ever read was a Hardy Boys mystery but I do not recall the title.

 

  • Which book inspired you to begin writing? The Big Honey Hunt by Stanley and Janice Berenstain.

 

  • Did you ever think you would be unable to finish your first novel? The first novel I started writing will end up being the third novel I ever finished.  I called it my practice novel and never expected to ever write a novel.  I discovered I could write a novel during the time I waited to have the art work done for my children’s books so unless I want to learn the process of doing my own artwork I found I could write a novel during that time.

 

  • Do you read any of your own work? If I do not read my own work no one else will.  There is no such thing as a first time final draft.  Anyone who feels there is, is a fool.

 

  • Tell us about your writing style, how is it different from other writers? My goal with writing children’s books was to create stories that were roughly 4000 words.  Outside of the intermediate children’s books I don’t know that I have a style.  The novel I call my practice novel is 95% conversation between the protagonist and everyone he encounters.  It is a considered a procedural where the reader follows the protagonist around and tries to solve the mystery with him.  My fantasy books and children’s books are nothing like that.

 

  • Do your novels carry a message? My children’s book ‘Are You My Friend’ has a message.  My first novel ‘The Trials’ follows the Hero’s Journey Archetype. I do not believe they were intended to have a message.  Most of the others just tell a story or entertain the reader.

 

  • How much of yourself do you put into your books? The main character in my fantasy series was based on a game character I called Erick the Cleric.  My name is Erik and when people see it they often ask “Did you name your main character after yourself?”  I guess I kind of did but I am not a cleric by any stretch of the imagination.

 

  • Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels? As of this point in my writing I have not incorporated anything from my life into my work.  That doesn’t mean that it wont happen in the future.

 

  • How realistic are your books? So far none of my books are based on realism except, ‘Redact That’ novel #3, is based in Tucson, Arizona about a made up UFO sighting.

 

  • What books have influenced your life the most?

 

  • Are there any books that you are currently reading and why? The books I read most now are ones that my students are required to read as part of their English class.  ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, ‘The Crucible’, ‘The Great Gatsby’, and ‘The Things They Carried’.

 

  • Have any new writers grasped your interest recently?

 

  • Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers? Adventurous Children’s books, Fantasy, and Science Fiction will interest a diverse group of readers.

 

  • Who are your books mostly dedicated to? I have dedications in two of my books.  One is dedicated to both my best friend who died in a car accident and the illustrators sister who died in a separate car accident and my younger brother who was lost to cancer.

 

  • It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well? Every adult has experience some sort of heart break.  For many it is what creates believable stories and characters.  People who can channel that type of loss, love, or hate become successful authors.

 

  • Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family? My wife Vanessa, though it took several years to be realized.  It wasn’t until her work with my books became recognized by others that she became as motivated as I to create treasures for children.

 

  • When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession? I always saw it as a way to make a career but I had a built in block that made me feel I had to succeed at something else before I could ever try it out.  Now that I have become an award winning teacher, coach, and writer that I find my work can generate a full time income.  I have an essay writing system and a job search manual that I have written and these two have the potential to create full time careers for several people.

 

  • If given the opportunity to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books? I love my books.  If I could change anything it would be my focus being spent on career and relationships before my creative writing.  If I could do it all over again I would focus on my writing right out of high school.

 

  • Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? When writing fantasy I found it both limiting and redundant to use earth mythology.  After writing The Trials I sat down and over the course of a day or two I created over 10 new races and creatures that will appear in my books in the future.  I was told that Orcs was a Tolkien creation but research and education has taught me that even these he borrowed from another source.  I created a backstory and race that I wanted to be superior to his Orcs.  After I created it I shared it with some of my fantasy minded students and they told me that my creation is much better.

 

  • Poets and writers in general, have a reputation of committing suicide; in your opinion, why is that the case? I believe this goes back to the first questions you asked.  Writers and Poets tend to be introverts and are accused of not fitting into society.  Poets and writers find frustration in seeing the world destroyed every day.  They have worked out solutions to these problems and see the wealthy and powerful exploit people and the earth instead of saving the planet from the destructions of humans.  They chose to leave rather than continue to be part of the problem. Tolkien’s elves chose this solution when they climbed into the boats.

 

  • Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it? My “Day job” is as an English teacher.  Politics makes being a teacher increasingly difficult everyday.  Money is pulled away from education at the expense of our students and country’s future.  We are already seeing the damage this has caused.  Constant cell phone use and the continued disrespect shown to teachers on a daily basis makes it increasingly difficult to continue being a full time teacher.  I have seen hundreds of my fellow teachers leave the industry because of it.

 

  • Does your day job ever get in the way of your writing? My “day Job” is exhausting.  It 100% gets in the way of my writing.

 

  • Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that? That misconception is extremely common.  Writers of the past who often have had wealthy supporters like Shakespeare have contributed to this.  Magnum P.I.’s Robin Masters has contributed to it.  Most writers are struggling artists much like the people selling their work on the streets.

 

  • From all that we have been hearing and seeing in the movies, most writers are alcoholics. Your views on that? I believe the belief that writers need pain in their lives in order to be really good contributes to this view.  It is not true.  Alcohol is another distraction from writing just like Facebook, gambling, or any other addictive practice.

 

  • Do you have a daily habit of writing? I would love to have one but in order to meet this I need to be independently wealthy and have no social life.  Setting up monthly or weekly word count goals can help you meet the word count need.  Teaching is a draining enterprise.  I often come home far too tired to write.  I already know the more tired I am the worse I write so I step away from it all at 8PM unless I am in a wild creative fit.

 

  • How do you see writing? As a hobby or a passion? Writing is a hobby if you never dream of becoming an author.  Writing as a passion is what authors do.  Once you sell your work to someone you do not know you are an author.  Once you cross that bridge you never return.

 

  • Is it true that anyone can be a writer? I invited a man I once met at a writer’s conference to come and speak to my students about it.  He came in and told us a story about how his first publishing experience a man told him to stop writing and focus on another career.  He was happy to share with us the number of books he has published, edited, and published.  He gave us a copy of his first book and I found over 10 mistakes on the first page.  Using this example anyone can become a writer.  The goal is to work at constantly improving at it and surround yourself with people that help you become better at it.
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