Interview with “Not My Circus Not My Monkeys”

Alyson:  First off, how has your week been?

Erica:  Let’s just say I would love for someone to treat me to a spa day where I could close my eyes and enjoy an hour-long massage, listening to serene music while I fall asleep… I am no doubt quoting every mother out there right now! In all honesty, every day has a little bit of crazy in it, consistently starring my beautiful, spirited 3-year-old daughter and adorable yet often times ferocious 1-year-old son. They are the hardest but also the best part of my everyday life, and I wouldn’t change it!

Alyson:  Oh little ones are wonderful but completely exhausting! *chuckle* Tell us about what have you had published to-date.

Erica:  In short, Lingering Echoes is my first novel, and is a story about overcoming grief and loss, and how broken paths can still connect. After Lingering Echoes, I explored my main character, Allie Collins, and wrote Rumors, which is a novella that takes place one year prior to Lingering Echoes. It can be read before or after the novel, however, many readers have enjoyed reading Rumors afterwards. Rumors offers depth and insight to Allie’s character so readers can understand her better.

I have a third book titled, Borrowed Angel that is a considered “inspirational nonfiction.” It is my own personal story of grief and healing after my first child died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome four years ago. Borrowed Angel should be on shelves by early April.

Alyson:  Life has a way of providing us with some unimaginable events that can become storylines.  Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?

Erica:  “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ Plato

Before I was a mother and an author, I started my career as a Recreation Therapist. I’ll spare you the novel answer. In short, as a Recreation Therapist I believe in the power of spending time with people outside of conversation. When you interact with someone through play, whether it be sports or going for a walk, or whatever your favorite activities may consist of, barriers are quickly broken down. When people are having fun, I believe we all relax a little more and allow our true nature to emerge in ways that a formal conversation would not. I love to play!

Alyson:  Wow!  A Recreation Therapist.  You have had some amazing life experiences.  Makes you that much better an author. *grin*  Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

Erica:  Lingering Echoes is about two people, Allie and Damien, who carry immense grief and guilt because of how their past actions tragically affected others. The reoccurring theme, aside from forgiveness, is how relationships can change and develop, especially when past experiences connect people to each other in unexpected ways.

Alyson:  I know those two emotions well. *sardonic chuckleCan you see parts of yourself in any of the characters?

Erica:  People who know me well may pick up on how some of Allie Collin’s thought processes come from experiences during my childhood or early adulthood. For example, Allie Collin’s skepticism about young love was something I held onto as a teenager and during my first years in college. The words “I love you” terrified me and I would often run (i.e. “break up”) from boys who tried to take our relationship to that level. Even my husband almost fell victim to my fear of commitment, but I am happy to say, he stayed by my side until I worked through those issues, and we have been married almost nine years now.

I recently wrote a blog post entitled, “No Chance, No Way” sharing details about this childhood experience and how I relate to Allie:

Alyson:  I find that parts of me and my life end up in my characters as well.  So, are you a pantster or a plotter?

Erica:  When I sit to write, I have a general idea of what I’d like to happen. Usually, I am an organized person who loves lists and bullet-points. However, with writing fiction, it seems impossible for me to outline an entire story! As I wrote Lingering Echoes, the relationships and storylines developed almost chapter by chapter, each scene leading into the next depending on where the emotions carried me. So I guess you can call me mostly a PANTSER!

Alyson:  LOL  Very good.  What tends to serve as the most reliable source(s) of inspiration for you?

Erica:  For Lingering Echoes, I found that I drew from my own well of emotions, pulling from memorable and sometimes painful experiences. Many of the characters have traits from different people I’ve met throughout my life who left an impact in one way or another. While there isn’t one character who is based off any particular individual as a whole, I can pin point memories or conversations that sparked some of the dialogue between characters, or who contributed to Allie’s line of thinking. My husband is also a helpful sounding board when I need ideas!

Alyson:  Oh sounds like you have a wonderful husband!  What has been the toughest criticism and the best compliment given to you as an author?

Erica:  I have been stunned that almost every 2-star rating has criticized me for being racist. As someone whose mother is from Thailand, and as a person who grew up in five different countries and experienced diversity at my international schools on a daily basis, I never would have fathomed that readers would accuse me of being racist. The criticism is based on me using the word “ethnic” a couple of times to refer to a bad-guy with a darker complexion, and some have voiced concern over the portrayal of the various gang members from Damien’s past.

I have definitely been reminded of the importance of word choice! It’s been hard for me because growing up, the term “ethnic” was not a bad word in my vocabulary. The question, “what ethnicity are you?” became a regular topic of conversation among students at my school as a way to discover one’s cultural background. I have learned from this criticism how words can be easily misinterpreted, even when it’s not the writer’s intent.

On the flip side, the best compliment I have received is how real I have portrayed my characters. Fans of Lingering Echoes have appreciated the flaws in my characters that make them believable and memorable. I love reading reviews that say the reader wants to be friends with my characters!

Alyson:  People are funny that way, aren’t they?  Well, as we wind down here, I have saved the most important question of all: Light or dark chocolate?

Erica:  As long as it’s in a cookie, does it matter?? If I had to choose, I love milk chocolate mixed with any sort of baked good!

Alyson:  Oh you are indeed a woman after my own heart!  *giggle*  Okay, so everyone has had a chance to see your awesomeness. Where can they go to snag their own copy of your novel?

Erica:  Lingering Echoes and Rumors are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Rumors is free!

Alyson:  Oh Erica, thank you for stopping by my little corner of the Web. I really wish you the best of everything. But before you go…where can we follow you?

Erica:  Facebook  |  Website  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Thank you so much for this interview and helping to promote Lingering Echoes!

Alyson:  Oh Erica, thank you!  Best of everything to you and do come back any time!

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