Welcome, readers. My special guest to wrap up the week is Eric Trant. We’re talking about his new historical supernatural thriller, Risen.
Eric visited in July 2015 for his sci-fi novel Stepsand talked about how much time you should really spend writing to be a writer.
Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels WINK, STEPS, and RISEN, from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric’s work here: Publications, or order directly from Amazon (print), Amazon (e-book), Barnes and Noble, or wherever books are sold.
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Eric, welcome back to Reviews and Interviews. Please tell us about your newest release.
Well, it’s my third book with WiDo Publishing, and we worked at least three times as hard on this one as the other two. I hope it shows!
I’ll share the blurb for Risen:
Haunted by visions of a demonic angel and sold into servitude by his father, young Alberto battles to survive the horrors of a nineteenth century Sicilian sulfur mine.
Suffering merciless brutality, Alberto must save not only himself but his deformed older brother, both pawns in their father’s mad plan to overthrow a group of wealthy landowners.
Bound by a death-debt to his hunchback master, Alberto discovers a door the miners call Porta dell’Inferno, the Door to Hell, deep within the sulfur mines. When he learns the demon-angel of his dreams stalks the caverns beyond the door, Alberto realizes a strange fate has lured him and his brother to the gates leading to the underworld.
Now Alberto must face the creature from his visions and rise to become the man his father demands him to be, or remain forever trapped in a hellish world where none escape.
What inspired you to write this book?
Risen was inspired by Booker T. Washington’s Man Farthest Down. I discovered this work as I was researching sulfur mines, and stumbled onto Booker’s tour through Europe searching for what he called “The Man Farthest Down,” or what would be the European equivalent of the American slave. He found in Europe that women were the lowest on the social ladder, but when he reached Sicily, he discovered they used child labor to haul rocks up from the sulfur mines.
Boys as young as eight or ten years old, with a lifespan hardly reaching sixteen, were sold into bondage and spent their few short years trudging naked and barefoot, up and down the mineshafts with rocks on their shoulders. The conditions were so horrifying that Booker thought they might not allow him to leave. It terrified him, and the opening quote of my book Risenborrows on his shock, quoting Mr. Washington as stating that a Sicilian sulfur mine is quite literally Hell on Earth. He stated quite clearly that American slavery paled in comparison, and that says a lot about what he witnessed.
And with that image in my mind, having stumbled on this amazing work by accident, I decided I had to write Risen. The book practically wrote itself, because I could not stop wondering about these boys they coined carusi who dedicated their lives to mining the rock that even today powders our rifles.
It is equally horrifying to know that this sort of labor continues today in sulfur mines throughout the third world.
What’s the next writing project?
I am currently drafting a working title of Wish. It is in the very early stages, and I write in a linear fashion, which means I don’t always know what will happen until it happens. But it is a book delving into the heartbreak surrounding the loss of a child, the anger it involves, and the lack of understanding those around you seem to have. I am drawing on our own experience of loss in 2012, and hope to do justice to the topic.
It will involve a wishing well, though, a young girl and her older sister, a fae and a bunch of spiders and spooks, and of course, some Southern Gothicism, set in the present-day Texas Hill Country. Oh, and an Elsa doll.
What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Probably my biggest challenge is coming up with a story I truly believe in. The writing itself is easy. I mean, it’s hard work, but it is work I enjoy, like going to the gym or programming. It is a pleasant sort of pain to write, and I feel stronger afterward, so drafting and editing are not issues.
But coming up with a story I hook into, that’s the ruse. I have to ~love~ the story and the characters. I am not a formula writer, is what I mean to say, so I need more than just a plot with the an/pro-taginists and that arc and whatnot going on. I want that story you relate to your kids or hear from your uncle around the pit, or your aunt when she has too much wine.
So I guess the hardest part is finding a story I love enough to spend a year or two pecking away on.
If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Perfect question for Risen. This book is set in a 19th century Sicilian sulfur mine, so I had to research Sicily, the Italian language, sulfur mines, vineyards, seasons and landscape and so on. I also did quite a bit of research for Out of the Great Black Nothing (which is no longer in print but will be re-written someday), which involved quite a bit of modern-day space tech research.
My process is simple. I start with a topic that sounds interesting. I hit the internet. I cross-reference ~everything~ with multiple sources. I step outside of the box and check foreign sources as well, which was especially true for Risen, since it was set in Sicily.
Then I watch for anything that relates to it in documentaries and other ad hoc resources. I had amazing luck in that my wife found an Italian documentary on some historical channel, where in the middle of the 20th century, around the 1950s, they interviewed men who had worked as carusi in the sulfur mines in the 1890s. The men cried as they told the stories, and all of them were visibly traumatized. They reacted like veterans retelling the horrors of war, and told of the boys beside them who had not survived the labor, and the abuse they suffered under their masters (I toned this down in my book, but these mines were every bit a living Hell for these boys, and were literally full of demonic men who tortured and abused them).
I was also fortunate to find a native Italian speaker in one of my writing groups, who was currently translating an Italian piece into English and needed an English proof-read. So I read her work, and she verified the Italian in mine.
So when it comes to research, as I’m writing it is a full-time endeavor. I am always, always on the prowl for anything related to the topic I am penning.
What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
Anyplace quiet, with my Bose headphones — not earbuds, ~headphones~ — for total immersion and a crisp, wonderful, perfect sound quality.
Perhaps the only unique thing about my writing space is that I select a single song and listen to it over and over as I write my work. It slips me into the mood. For Wink, I listened to Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks. For Steps, I listened to Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. You’ll see those songs in the work if you pay attention.
For Risen, I listened to Seether’s Rise Above This, and for my WiP, working title Wish, I am listening to Pearl Jam’s Wishlist.
And if I ever get stuck, I drink a dark beer to flow the juices.
What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I love reading authentic books by any author. I mean something written from the heart, even if it is poorly penned or goofball. I have been on a kick reading memoirs, but need to find some good fiction to read next.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
Just a hearty ~THANK YOU~ for taking the time to read the interview and maybe picking up one of my books. I always say we as authors should write first for ourselves, and then for others. So, the first draft is always ~mine~, just the way I like it.
After that, all those revisions and cuts and back-and-forths with the editors, all the labor for release and marketing and blogs and updates and so on forever, that is for Dear Reader. That is for others.
Write first for yourself, then for others. That’s what I mean to say.
Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
Readers, if you’d like to learn more about Eric, here are his other tour dates and stops:
Monday September 4th (today) @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway
Tuesday, September 5th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Eric Trant writes today’s guest post at Choices “Is a Career in the Arts (writing) Realistic?”. Readers can find out more about Trant and his latest book Risen.
Wednesday, September 6th @ Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now
“Say YES: Why Taking Chances is Imperative” is today’s topic at Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now. Hear from author Eric Trant as he examines this important topic and shares more about his latest novel Risen.
Thursday, September 7th @ Writer’s Pay it Forward
Eric Trant pens today’s guest post at Writer’s Pay It Forward. Today’s post is titled: “Breaking In vs. Breaking Out: The Writer’s Career Arc”. Readers and Writers alike won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear from Trant as well as finding out more about his latest novel Risen.
Friday, September 8th @ BookWorm
Hear from Anjanette Potter of BookWorm as she reviews Eric Trant’s latest novel Risen – this historical supernatural work of fiction is sure to please readers!
Friday, September 8th @ Lisa Haselton
Lisa Haselton interviews Eric Trant about his latest novel Risen. You’ll want to learn more about this supernatural tale of fiction as well as the mastermind behind the dynamic writing.
Friday, September 8th @ Hott Books
“Life Gets Better: An Angel Dad Reports Five Years Later” is today’s post title at Hott Books. This touching true life tale is told by guest blogger Eric Trant as part of his WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour of his latest thriller “Risen”.
Monday, September 11th @ Tara Forst at Digging with the Worms
Crunchy Wisconsin Mama and Entrepreneur Tara Forst reviews “Risen” by Eric Trant. Don’t miss this review and giveaway of Trant’s latest thriller!
Tuesday, September 12th @ Bring on Lemons with Tess Fallier
Tess Fallier is today’s guest blogger with a review and her thoughts on Eric Trant’s Risen. Don’t miss this blog stop!
Wednesday, September 13th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto
Reader and book blogger Crystal Otto reviews Eric Trant’s Risen and shares her thoughts with readers at Book Santa Fe.
Thursday, September 14th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Eric Trant visits Memoir Writer’s Journey and shares his thoughts with readers of Kathleen Pooler’s engaging blog. Today’s post title is: “Setting: Its Role in Storytelling”. Don’t miss this chance to hear from the talented Eric Trant and find out more about his latest book Risen.
Friday, September 15th @ Building Bookshelves
Jodi Webb of Building Bookshelves interviews Eric Trant about his writing, his life, and his latest thriller! Don’t miss this blog stop!
Friday, September 29th @ Coming Down the Mountain
Eric Trant is today’s guest author at Karen Jones Gowen’s blog Coming Down the Mountain. Read Eric’s guest post titled “Luck: Its Role in Success” and find out more about his latest thriller Risen.