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author interview

-- World of Writing -- 

Today we are joined by author Ericka Clay, a novelist who just released A Violent Hope, and is working on her next book: You Once Were Darkness. She has been awarded by Writers Digest for various short fiction pieces, she has written four novels and has had the privilege of sharing her craft, teaching writing classes and holding writers workshops in the South Texas area. Ericka tells me that she resides in the Northwest Arkansas area with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and an insatiable need to push buttons, both figuratively and literally. or and
Q: Where are you from? 

I’m from a suburb of Little Rock, Arkansas called Maumelle. I lived there until I was ten and then we moved around a bit. I’ve lived in Texas and actually graduated high school in Massachusetts. Talk about culture shock!

Q: When did you consider yourself a writer? 

Sixth grade. We were given a poetry project, and I was the only person in class who didn’t groan about it. I loved it! I had never written poetry before, and I felt an instant connection. I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. 

Q: Do you use more than one voice in your writing? 

Oh, I absolutely do. I always admire people who can write in third person omniscient the entire time. For me, it’s different. I feel like the entire book is a tapestry, and there are different layers, and switching voices allows me to give a little more colour and depth to the entire piece. First person is my favorite way to write. I love getting inside my characters’ heads.

Q: What is your profession and educational background? 

My degree is in English and Creative Writing. I had always planned to use my degree full time, but life happened, and I ended up getting an upper management position. I was there two years when we decided it was best for me to come home to home school my daughter. Now I get to spend more time with her and write in my spare time. It’s definitely an ideal situation!

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? 

I think I’m very strong when it comes to character development. I think I write to the point that you feel my characters standing right beside you. Plot? That’s definitely something that I have to work at. But I will say I think I’ve improved greatly in that area – thankfully!

Q: How have your books gotten published? 

At one point, I had an agent and a publisher. It was a surreal experience, and I of course figured it was my big break. But it definitely wasn’t the turning point I thought it would be, and I ended up going back to work and not writing for awhile. This go round, I sent off my manuscript to a few agents but I knew what I was writing was so niche, it probably wouldn’t get a second glance. I figure my work is too “Christian” for the secular publishing world and maybe a bit too “secular” for the typical Christian publishing crowd. No worries. I’ll just publish the book myself and cut out the middle man which is what I’ve done. And I love it! I love the creative control and the support I’ve received in writing my books. The whole process just seems more organic and real.

Q: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? 

Probably how I write my novels. People talk about being a pantser (writing from the seat of your pants) or being a plotter (someone who takes the time to carefully plot out their book before sitting down to write). I’d say I’m a pantsing plotter, that is I start out writing from the seat of my pants, but then slowly but surely I start to see the plot unfold and jot down a quick outline that I begin to flesh out on paper. 

Q: How many books/stories have you written? 

I’ve written three novels but have only published two of them (A Violent Hope and Unkept). I’m working on my fourth right now called You Once Were Darkness. It’s about two gang members who are cousins, one named Douglas (a former member who’s cleaning up his act) and the other named Travis (a brand new initiate). The tumultuous story of their relationship involves a woman who has struggled raising her defiant daughter, and how through her journey, she’s able to point Douglas to God. I also wrote and published a novella called Dear Hearts. It’s interesting to me how I was searching for something greater than myself in that book and eventually ended up finding it.


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