Interview with Eric Diehl

Eric Diehl

Interview Date: 8/10/2012


Eric is a tinkerer; he likes to make things. Perhaps it began with a custom van built in the long-haired days of the seventies—an old school bus with an engine salvaged from the junk yard. Or with the dozens of motorcycles ridden, broken, repaired and ridden again. Eric has built furniture and guitars; he’s screen-printed t-shirts and he’s used software to created package-design. He’s written software for corporations large and small—for a time working out of the traveling RV he and Sue called home. He built and flew a gyrocopter over the cane-fields and beaches of south Florida.
But of all the avocations in which he’s dabbled, Eric stands most in awe of one. Consider that most elusive of creations—the story. Ink on paper, black on white—a collection of simple syllables woven into a journey bounded only by the imagination.
After more than three decades in south Florida, Eric and lovely wife Susan moved to the Upstate region of South Carolina, where the nearby Appalachian mountains clamor for exploration. Motorcycling remains a life-long passion, and he forever persists in being confounded by the acoustic guitar.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I wrote a little as a child, but it was not until adulthood that I found that I tended to become more focused when engaged with writing. I got positive feedback from my technical writing, and finally decided, around 2004, to try my hand at fiction. Then I learned how much I didn't know, and had to get serious about the art of writing.

If you could have one superpower, what would it? (Assuming said power would be reasonably powerful.)

Shoot! Just one? My first instinct was to answer that I'd love to fly, but if that was my only power, then doing so could become uncomfortable or downright painful. Next up was superhuman strength, but after a bit of consideration perhaps I'll select invulnerability. Can it be applied retro-actively? I just busted a tooth, and I'm not looking forward to looking up into that bright light while a masked man lowers a whirring grinder into my face.

Kev's response: That's an interesting one. Boom, you're invulnerable. Now what to do? I mean, it's not going to get you wealthy, nor allow you to find (and stop) crimes overly easily. You wouldn't have super strength, so if you became a vigilante, the police could still arrest you. I suppose the military becomes a good option. Hmm.

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

In more recent movies it would have to be the semi-dark hero Batman, but as a child it was Superman who easily won me over. Even to a little boy the early TV Batman was kinda hokey (purposely, of course), whereas the TV Superman was really cool. I never could readily accept that the only disguise needed by Clark Kent was a pair of glasses, though. Especially when Lois Lane had close contact with both personas. Oh well, there goes that 'suspension of disbelief' thing.

Kev's response: Yeah, every now and then I throw a tweet out about that joke (the glasses as the ultimate disguise). It's just so silly.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

My first novel, 'Water Harvest' was inspired by concern over environmental issues. Once into it, though, I found myself drifting from hard SciFi to science fiction with a serious dose of fantasy. I'm motivated by the way the story sometimes tells itself.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

As suggested in my previous answer, I tend to be seat of the pants. I started out trying to plot and outline the entire thing, but I have a hard time staying focused on that and so I took the general plot idea and decided upon an opening scene, and then just jumped in. That does mean that I have to be adjusting and fixing and rewriting things all through the process, but it seems to work best for me.

Kev's response: That's the important thing, to find something that works for you in the storytelling process.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I don't have a set schedule, but I do best when I make myself sit down to write every day. There are difficult days, to be sure, but I at least get something to later work with, or 'fix', and sometimes come up with new twists that appeal to me.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I like various genres, but my favorite would be SFF, and occassionaly some horror. Hard SciFi can sometimes be a little too sterile for me, and pure fantasy can sometimes be, well, a little too fantastic. Melding the two together makes for a perfect fit, to my reading eye.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

The sense of accomplishment, when I finally finish a work that I believe to truly be good. But maybe even more than that is the way that sometimes, when I get on a roll, things start happening, developments that I was not intending. I'll sit back and think 'Where the heck did that come from?', and it can sometimes become more like reading a novel, as opposed to writing one.

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

The blank page days. I sometimes hear someone say "I've got so many ideas in my head, but not enough time to write them', and I mutter a bit and wish that that was my current problem.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

I'm basically an introvert, though I have no problems standing before a class and teaching something that I love, that being motorcycling. I tend to circulate through various crafts, having just sold a big wood lathe and started throwing pottery on a wheel and firing it in a kiln. I've built several electric guitars (and I play, but not so well). I used to fly an open gyrocopter, and I'm a cat person.

Kev's response: Having a snow leopard would be pretty cool. Assuming it was tame ... and didn't sleep on the bed ... or want to be a lap kitty.

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

One at a time, so far, though I've done short stories while a novel was in the works.

I'm looking to advertise for evil minions for my plot to take over the world, any suggestions?

Craigslist. All you have to do is advertise on craigslist, and the scammers and ne're-do-wells will descend like locusts. Don't expect them to have good language skills, though.

Kev's response: Oho! I think you've found a goldmine of minions!

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I resisted ebooks (especially when the readers were basic and expensive), but I've definitely come around to them now. I especially like keeping an entire library on a reader--- there are lots of books I've read in year's past that have long-since disappeared from my possession, whereas with ebooks they never really go away. I also like that fact that ebooks are an enabler for indie writers; I'm sure there is a lot of good work that never got published just because it didn't work for the gate-keepers (traditional publishers). I also like knowing that while traditional books have a very definite shelf-life---often very brie---there is essentially no such thing for ebooks, and my writing may be entertaining new readers decades or possibly even centuries after my personal shelf-life has expired.

Kev's response: I can't wait for e-readers (the popular ones ... well, fine, a Kindle), to drop to about $25 US or so. That will be a point where buying them for others will become a no-brainer. That, and the ability to gift "Kindle Dollars" or some such directly to the other person EASILY to let them buy books.

What are your current projects?

Just one---I'm working on a far-past prequel to my novels Water Harvest and Guild of the Viizar.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

I used Smashwords and Kindle, and it's really not that difficult to do. I like the fact that I have close to absolute control over the entire process, though I must recognize that it is up to me to get everything right. A poorly executed work could result in a serious negative bias towards future efforts, even if the later efforts are much better work.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?
@OEricDiehl (on Twitter)

Kev's response: Eric, thanks much for joining me! Good fortune on the prequel!

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