Interview with Erik Gustafson, author of “Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon” April 1, 2011 by C.C.Cole
Erik Gustafason’s above book was reviewed my me and I found it a very compelling story about a boy growing up to become a young man, and past incidents grow from disturbing paranormal flashbacks into the harsh world of reality.
C.C.: Is this your first novel? Have you published other works, such as short stories? Are you traditional or self-published? What was your experience in the publishing industry?
Erik: This is the first novel I have written and actually completed. Many years ago I used to write short stories and had 2 or 3 books that I tried to write but they all fizzled out. I do have two other short stories available on Smashwords: “The Road to Safety” which is a story about being stranded on the road and how that isolation can turn ugly quick; the other story is “My Lover, My Garden” and its about one man trying to save his brother, an obsessed gardener when the garden takes on a life of its own and fights back to keep the gardener right there in the garden where he belongs!
I choose to self-publish my book because it seemed both simple and popular. I choose to put my book up on Smashwords and that was a simple process but the real challenge was getting the formatting correct and figuring out how to design a cover that was decent. Then there is the reality about publishing: you have to be popular to get popular. Its tough getting people to give my book a try!
C.C: What started you on this novel journey? Was it a certain real-life event, historical event, book or film?
Erik: It had been years since I wrote anything. I had switched to painting and was having a great time with that. My wife heard about NaNoWriMo and I checked into and though it sounded like a great challenge. So I started writing it on November 1st and forced myself to write almost every day in November. The people I met through NaNoWriMo were great! They kept me motivated and were very helpful. It was a lot of fun and that’s how I started getting connected with Twitter. So I met the goal of writing 50,000 words during the month but the book was not quite done. I finished it up and then started the grueling editing and rewriting process.
C.C.: Describe your book to us (generally, not asking for spoilers). What is the inner message?
Erik: I have a Master’s degree in psychology and I hope my writing reflects that. In “Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon”, the main character suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from a horrific fire when he was five. His childhood playmate was also in that fire. The family moves away to get away from all those painful memories but that doesn’t work for our main character. The traumatic memories seem to take on a life of their own in the form of relentless fire-breathing dragons! This dragon that haunts my main character pretty much ruins his childhood, keeping him embarrassed and afraid of the next attack. He also hears voices calling his name and other paranormal things happen to him. As time goes on, he learns more about what really happened in the fire and realizes that he all the hallucinations might be a real haunting and he must go back to confront his past before the dragon finishes him. He sets off on an adventure with his best friend and together they learn about what happened…and confront the ghosts of his past! The ending is intense and will surprise you!
C.C.: What age group do you recommend this book and why?
Erik: I think most any age group can relate to the characters in my book. It’s a horror story on the surface but its also a coming of age story and the struggles with conquering your fears and overcoming your past.
C.C.: Tell us about your background. Did you grow up in the United States?
Erik: I grew up in Iowa but was in the Air Force for 20 years so I have lived all over the United States and several foreign countries. I have lived in Iceland, Germany and in a tent in the desert in Saudi Arabia! Now I have settled back down in Iowa to be close to family. I teach psychology classes at a community college and coordinate services for people with intellectual disabilities so they can live more independent and satisfying lives.
C.C.: Do you plan on writing more novels? If so, generally, what are you working on, and when do you expect completion?
Erik: I am working on my second novel! I have given this one a working title of “The Second Chimney.” It has a lot of bats…the guy is bat hunting in his house all the time! During one of his on-going bat proofing the house adventures, he realizes his old house has a second chimney that has long since been covered up by walls…when he opens the chimney back up, its not bats that come out of the darkness…its something much worse and something very bad.
I am thinking this one might turn into a horror series…the second book in this series will shift more toward dark/horror fantasy.
I hope to have “The Second Chimney” ready to go by fall of this year!
C.C.: Do you have a website or blog so we can follow your progress as an author?
I do have a blog, although its just getting started and doesn’t have much to offer yet…. http://Eriktiger.wordpress.com
C.C.: where can your book be purchased?
Erik: You can purchase my book and other short stories on Smashwords or Amazon Kindle! My author page on Smashwords is https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ErikGus
I want to thank Erik for his interview and sharing his interesting novel with us, and look forward to follow up work!!