Throughout the year I’ve met
many interesting authors. This month’s interview is with Eric Wilson.
Virtually speaking, we’re heading out to his home state, Tennessee, and
meeting him at the renowned Fort Donelson. It’s located on the bank of
the Cumberland River, and from everything he’s told me, it’s an amazing
place to see.
I worked on my writing while my
husband, Bill, loaded the Jeep. I could hear him mumbling. “Water
bottles, check; comfortable shoes, check; sunscreen, check.”
We hoped to get going before the
scorching August sun melted us. “Did you pack the camera?”
“I packed his leash, and he’s
waiting in the Jeep.”
“Let’s go!” Barely having to
blink an eye, we were on our way.
Eric Wilson was born in
California in 1966, raised in Oregon, and has traveled in over
thirty-five countries. He brings to his writing an international
perspective and historical intrigue, as well as struggles of faith.
While earning a BA with high
honors from Life Pacific College, he published nonfiction articles and
served on the editorial staff for his campus newspaper. He married his
wife, Carolyn Rose, after his junior year, in 1990, and they went on to
youth pastor together, run an espresso cart business, and raise two
daughters, who are both now in their teens.
After years of dreaming to be a
novelist, Eric signed his first contract with WaterBrook Press, a
division of Random House, and published his first novel in 2004. Since
that time, he’s written a total of ten novels, and will soon have a
million words in print.
His most recent book was based
on the original screenplay of Fireproof, a
grassroots hit movie. The book spent seventeen weeks on the New
York Times Best-Sellers list, has been translated into five
languages, and has 250,000 copies in print.
*Blink* We’re at the
national park entrance.
We parked the Jeep,
got out, and
stretched. I wanted to see the graveyard; the Internet site showed all
the tombstones lined up—Americans giving their lives for what they
believed in. I figured that would be the place to solemnly “feel”
history. Bill agreed and had highlighted a few things on his own “to
see” list, as well.
“Bill, Mr. Wilson said he’d be
wearing jeans and a Vanderbilt T-shirt. The first thing we need to do
is find him.”
“What color is his shirt?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I
don’t know. He didn’t mention the color . . . I should have asked. I’ve
seen his picture . . . he’s good-looking, brown hair—”
“There’s a guy in jeans.” Bill
pointed toward the river.
“That’s him! He said in his
e-mail, ‘I’ll be wearing black-rimmed glasses—to make me look
smarter—and faux-fashion jeans worn through with holes.’ He does look
smart! C’mon, he’s waving.” I waved back as we hiked the path to where
he was standing. “Hello.”
“Hello, this is my favorite
part of Fort Donelson, the fearsome look of the spiked logs, and the
Cumberland River flowing down the bank. July fourth we celebrated along
these banks with hundreds of thousands who gathered from around the
state. It was hot, humid, crowded, and one of the most spectacular
fireworks displays in the nation.”
“I’m so glad you invited us.
Civil War reenactments! Remnants of the past! So much American history
. . . I feel like I’ve just stepped out of the books I’ve read. What a
trip! Shall I begin?”
love so many of your quotes. You said, “I do believe Jesus is the
Answer. Which is why I’m not afraid to wrestle with the questions. I
expect my characters to do the same.” Would you give an example of one
of your questions and your fictional character who helped find the
wonder about the balance between God’s sovereignty and our free will.
As an author, I am sovereign over my story and characters, and yet I
see these characters take on life of their own and do things I didn’t
plan. In the same way, I think God gives us freedom while still forming
a story that is His alone. That’s a question—and answer—I came up with
through Clay Ryker’s conflicts in my book Expiration Date.
I found this one, too. “Avoiding the dust in the corners doesn’t make
the dust go away.” Please tell me when, where, why, and how you came up
with this simple yet provocative phrase?
was one of those phrases born while letting the characters work through
their issues within the story. I wanted to deal with the fact that we
as Christians are challenged to bring our sins into the light but often
sweep them under the carpet instead. It doesn’t make them go away. It
makes them fester.
You’re an innovative writer and also an avid reader. When picking out a
book for yourself, what type stories do you gravitate toward?
read across most genres, looking for strong writing that is driven by
believable characters. I want stories that wrestle with
uncertainties, whether it’s a book like Lord of the Flies or
Lord of the Rings. I love stories ranging from Tosca Lee’s Havah
to Mitchell Bonds’s Hero, Second Class to James Lee
understand you have compassion when it comes to the underdog and feel
anguish by other people’s pain. But how do you relate to Eric Wilson’s
struggles? How kindly are you toward your own feelings when life throws
you a curveball and you don’t catch it? At least not the first time!
Eric: I try
to give myself a lot of grace because I need it so often. My main
struggles come when I see others get hurt. I want to strike back at
their attackers, come to the rescue. I’ve faced knives in a few
different situations while standing up for women being abused, for
parents divorced when you were a young man, I’d assume pre-author age,
and now you’ve been married almost twenty years. What have you done to
ensure your marriage will survive?
Selfishness is the ultimate infection in a relationship. Whether it’s
financial, sexual, emotional, I can’t let my own self-seeking human
nature override the call to love my wife as Christ loved the
how would you answer this same question for your wife? What has she
done to ensure your marriage will survive?
don’t usually answer questions for my wife because she definitely has
her own thoughts and opinions. We’ve talked about this subject before,
though, and we try to stay affectionate, to build each other up in
front of others and not tear down with our words. We let each other
start fresh each day. She’s a-ma-zing! She has to put up with a lot
more than I do.
I saw your wife’s MySpace and listened to the song “I Believe in Us” by
Carolyn Rose. Your wife is certainly talented and obviously in love! By
the way, I loved the song. Did she write the lyrics and/or music, or
wrote the music and lyrics, yes. She’s a doll, an absolutely sweet and
fun-loving person. I’m a blessed man.
Valerie: Umm .
. . Is this why you live in Nashville, Tennessee? Home of Country
not a country fan at all, but we did move to Nashville because of its
strong creative community, both in music and publishing. We love it
are blessed: proud husband and father. Are your daughters filled to the
brim with all this creative talent, too?
They’re creative, though not in the same ways as their parents,
necessarily. One is very inventive with clothing, hair, artwork, and so
on. The other loves to express herself through song. They are unique
individuals and have been since birth. I love watching them become who
they were created to be.
seeing your novels come alive on the big screen, have you ever
considered auditioning for a part?
Actually, none of my novels have been brought to the big screen. If
they were, I’d only want a fun little cameo somewhere. I’m not an
actor, and I’m getting older by the minute. But hey, so is everyone
reading this! I did get to write novels based on the original Kendrick
Brothers screenplays, which was a lot of fun, but I had nothing to do
with the films themselves.
wannabe actors, friends or family, think they would like to have a role
if one of your books were made into a movie?
sister is an amazing actress. I wish she could have the chance to be in
a movie someday. She’s beautiful but natural, and she has a great
presence and poise. She’s not afraid to throw herself emotionally into
a scene. Someday, Heidi. Someday.
You’re a busy man. You’re a multibook author and a member of
the best-seller list. This August 11, 2009, is the official release of
Haunt of Jackals. You’ve been across the country for book signings and
speaking engagements nonstop. What’s next?
working on new books with new questions of faith told through big
concept stories. I have nonfiction ideas I want to explore. I’m also
working on a YA (young adult) idea for the mainstream market. I’ve been
writing a quarter million words a year for the past two years, and it
looks like that could hold true again next year. In this economy, I’m
just waiting to see which doors open.
that’s true for all of us. You have been asked many things during your
career, but is there any one item you would like to share with your
fans? Something you haven’t been asked but think they would enjoy
brother and I once hiked twelve miles through the snow and got lost in
the lee of a mountain. We had such a great, scary, freezing, thrilling
adventure. If we had died, I would’ve wanted my tombstone to read: “Not
all those who wander are lost”—JRR Tolkien.
Terrific! Thank you so much, Eric.
Award winning author, Valerie
Anne Faulkner, came from New York, moved to the Gulf Coast of
Florida in 1973. Author of I Must Be in Heaven, A Promise
she spends her days working side by side with her husband, Bill, as an
electrician, then evenings, as a writer. The CFOM interviews have been
a great way for her to meet other authors and hone her writing craft.
This back-porch writer’s family is very important
to her, and
she cherishes time spent with her three grown children and seven
grandchildren. A few hours with family or a day enjoying one of
Florida’s Gulf beaches are her favorite ways to relieve stress and
refresh from her busy lifestyle.
Valerie was honored to receive First
Place (Memoir) 2008 Royal Palm
Literary Award by the Florida Writer’s Association in
November, and now is celebrating her latest achievement as Winner
Next Generation Indie Awards.
Valerie’s motto is “A day with
prayer . . . seldom unravels.”
Visit her at www.imustbeinheaven.com