Interview With Erin Pearson
I first came across Erin Pearson through her publisher, Nick Downing, and when he sent me the details about Erin’s soon to be released novel, Prodigal Lost: Oasis of the Fallen and read the description, I was hooked. It covered three genres I love to read, spiritual warfare, fallen angels, and Nephilim. When I realized she was a new author, I offered to interview her and to discover some of the nuts and bolts of this novel and what makes this author tick. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I am looking forward to the next installment immensely.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to Erin Pearson and her compelling debut novel.
Thanks for stopping by today Erin. Let’s start by you telling about yourself.
I enjoy simple things; waking up early to see the sun rising as I would take my morning run. I love the smell of ink, as I still do a lot of my writing with ink pen and paper. I keep notebooks in every crook of my house, and even in my car because I want to be prepared in case the perfect line ever strikes me. I listen mainly to public radio and have a soft spot for Gershwin. I have been known, on occasion, to polka and don’t mind that people stare at my tattoos. I am also a wife, a mom and a sister. What can I say, I breathe the wild air.
Now let’s talk about your writing and being an author.
What inspired you to become an author?
God really set me to work on writing as I worked in my college career. I transferred schools after my third semester and found out very quickly that I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. So, I followed my heart and started taking classes on writing because I loved to read. I had been a writer for most of my life, creating my first “book” when I was in middle school. My favorite books were those that had an option for the reader to choose the next action of the protagonist, and the thought intrigued me. And when I would finish the book I would think to myself “I could do this, and I could do it better!”. My inspiration really came as all the roads kept putting me back into a position that writing was good for my soul. So, I write.
How did you develop Prodigal Lost: Oasis of the Fallen, by extensively plotting it out (plotter), or as it came to you (pantser, that you write by the seat of your pants) or was it a bit of both?
Prodigal Lost is six years in the making. It started out plainly enough during the peak of the “Twilight” craze. Plagued by the thoughts that I could write something like these books that were causing so much fever, and having read them and felt they were inadequate, I challenged myself to dig deep and commit. After the first year or so of writing and editing, the story was all based in ancient Rome. It wasn’t until one of my beta readers came back with a suggestion to rewrite the entire book in the present day to pull in more readers, that I came up with the present day frame. I chose New Orleans because the culture of that city absolutely fascinated me, and doubled the length of the book creating the frame. So, while I’d like to say that all of it was plotted before I ever wrote a word, honestly, I flew by the seat of my pants on many occasions. I kept finding more places I wanted the reader to discover, more adventures that I wanted the characters to go on, and more people that I wanted them to meet. So the story took on a life of its own and grew bigger than I ever first imagined.
What obstacles did you encounter in this endeavor? How did you overcome these?
Six years is a lot of time to receive a lot of rejections. And I have had more than my fair share, in my opinion. I’m sure every fledgling writer feels the same. I queried agents, I looked for publishers and queried them, then I found I couldn’t afford to publish it myself. So, for a while I decided that perhaps I was wrong, that God wasn’t really leading me to write this and that I must have misheard my assignment. Many tears were shed and I lost a lot of confidence in my ability to write well, to convey the story. But as I see it now, looking back I can see that God was just forming me into the right mindset I needed to write from Mason’s perspective. I needed to experience more hardships to write about his intense feelings more authentically. So my feelings about failure and struggle were real so Mason’s struggle was real.
I leaned on a lot of people for support, mainly my husband. He would tell me “put it away, don’t look at it” to remind me that I couldn’t write it for me. I had to remove myself, and it had to be for Him.
How has writing and being an author impacted your relationship with Jesus Christ?
I can’t believe how much Jesus speaks to me, if I just give him the chance to talk! My head is filled with so many ideas, but when I quiet myself and let him speak to me, and through me, I really feel I have come so much closer to him in this whole process. Writing, to me, has opened the door to a closer relationship with him. My writing allows me to see a focused energy on something that’s not for me, but for his glory. When I write, I pray that God’s words come from me, and that I’m given the right things to say. If I start to struggle I stop writing. That is how I’ve learned to apply these lessons to the rest of my life. When I start to struggle somewhere, I stop what I’m doing, recognize what I’m doing isn’t what I should be doing, and have learned to hand it over once again. Being a Christian doesn’t get easier the older we get, but it does get more peaceful. I have grown exponentially since I’ve learned that I can recommit myself every day, every hour and even every minute to the work that God has placed in my life.
In that quiet I have learned, I find the most peace because I can see the struggle isn’t mine to keep. God’s got this. It makes life easier for sure.
In your biography on your Amazon author page, you describe yourself as follows,
“Through her own trials and failures, E.L. Pearson has seen the influence of darkness in this fallen world and has herself felt the burden of those who feel suffocated by it”
Can you expand on this, please?
I am not without faults. They follow me, sometimes every day, sometimes every hour. The whole reason I wrote the book was to help others who felt like they’d turned their backs on God, much like I’d done in some areas of my life. What I wanted to show people is there is more to life than feeling lost and suffocated. There is freedom in God’s love, if we only accept it. No matter the sins, no matter the black stain you may feel you have left upon life, there is always a new beginning, and often it starts by laying your life again at the altar, and starting over. I am not proud of some of my past, but if God forgives me, then I’m pretty sure I can forgive me too. And if He’s forgiven me, then he’s got enough forgiveness for everyone else!
Do you have a favorite genre that you read?
I actually love period pieces, and have a keen interest for Arthurian literature. Anything that’s not present day, actually, which explains my love of Ivanhoe and Once and Future King. I also love classic literature like Beowulf and Paradise Lost, which explains the more formal speech I take on in the dream sequences in Prodigal Lost. Reading for me has always been associated with travel, so when I read I want to go somewhere I can’t go on my own.
What have you learnt about becoming an author?
It’s hard work! It’s humbling, and it’s exhausting. But when you have a passion for something and God is behind it, things just seem to happen on their own. While I continue to try to make a name for myself, I have to remember that Erin the author is only possible because God the Author made it so. So if sales are slow or reviews aren’t coming in, I won’t focus on that. The story that God set on my heart is out there, and if it’s spoken to one person who needed to hear the message, then my heart is happy.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
Six long and somewhat painful growing years!
I love your command of the English language. Have you always found this to be an easy achievement? Some authors engaged in a writing course before they wrote their first novel. What have done, anything? Would you encourage other aspiring authors to do so?
Thank you so much for that compliment! I have been told that I have a certain proficiency with words, which is another way of saying I’ve been called wordy on more than one occasion. I’m sure my editor was ready to strangle me after he read it through! I worked very hard in college to perfect my use of the language, and to find just the right word for the phrase or situation that would cause people to sit back and think. I think what’s helped me the most in creating this voice is to continue to read as I write. I find what I like and what I don’t, so I know how to continue as myself. I write as I would like to read, and while it doesn’t resonate with everyone, I feel I can still connect with most readers.
Is any of yourself based on any of the female characters in PL?
Oh yes. I still think of myself as naïve as Oasis is in book one. She really has a crusader’s heart. She knows what she wants and she listens to God. Without thinking about the repercussions of her actions, sometimes, she presses forward. But what I love about her the most is her faith. If she feels led to do something, she goes, and she goes without fear. While I harbor more fear than I should, I aspire to be like Oasis.
As for the other characters, I actually identify a lot with Mason, mostly due to his struggling heart. We’ve all been there, but I was challenged once in college to write from a different perspective. So, perhaps this book started even further back than six years, and started in a poetry class with Charles Fort, where I wrote from the perspective of a World War II Army veteran.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I also love to play music, which is where I spent the rest of my college years. I was either wistfully writing in Thomas Hall or locked away in a practice room playing alto saxophone. I think music and writing really go hand in hand, and appreciate how emotions can be conveyed through both mediums. Other than that, I tag along with my kids on their adventures, and work in the Marketing department of a Fortune 500 company in the Midwest of the US.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Keep writing, no matter how many times you want to quit. A professional writer is an amateur writer who didn’t give up!
As a new author, any advice for other aspiring authors?
I would say do your research. For some, traditional publishing is an option. For others, indie publishers offers a little bit of both worlds. For others, and for a lot of people especially within Christian Fantasy and Spec Fic, self-publishing becomes our only route. But, the best offer of advice I can give is to say that the internet is a big place, and it has a lot to offer. People will be talking about a lot of information, but take your time. Dig in and find your niche.
What are you reading now?
Strawberry and Sage by Amanda Gale. She’s an incredibly talented writer, who’s written another series called the Meredith Series. Seriously, check her out. I am also knee deep in Raven Price’s works. I read a lot in my genre, to see just where I sit in the spectrum. Of course, I read through all of my publisher’s works, Talon’s Test and Martyr, and I’m really looking forward to the release of Liza’s Revenge soon.
What tools have you found most successful in advertising or marketing yourself and your book?
Facebook is a major tool for authors today, if not for the marketing aspect of the book, for the forums and information gained by joining other writers groups. Iron Sharpening Iron as well as a group called Binders (for women) have been essential for me to connect with others and hear about what’s working, possibly what’s not working and if there are potential hazards for me out there. It’s been incredibly helpful. Not only that, but working specifically through an author page versus my private Facebook page has given me the opportunity to separate my family from my work, so I don’t continually blast my close friends and family with information they already know.
Twitter has been another outlet I’ve found useful. One of the reviews for Prodigal Lost came from one of those connections made there as well. It’s a different monster, but I’m thankful that my 8-5 job is in social media, so I focus a lot of my efforts personally with what I’ve found professionally working for a major US retailer.
I also write for Her View From Home (www.herviewfromhome.com) contributing devotional articles monthly alongside one of my biggest mentors, Sue Harrison, the author of the Ivory Carver Trilogy. Seriously, you’ve got to check out her work too. Having access to an international best-selling author for questions and advice is priceless.
I anticipate having a fully functional website with blog available prior to the paperback release of Prodigal Lost this fall.
It’s a learning curve, but one that I am most definitely ready to tackle.
Did any specific author(s) motivate you to begin writing?
I didn’t take a lot of convincing to write. It was really a daily action long before I ever thought of it as a career. But, what do you think? Think I have a shot at a career? 🙂 Right now, it’s something I do in the midst of everything else, while I long to be writing full time. Perhaps someday, as the story progresses it will be something that I can focus on more and more. Hopefully it won’t be another 6 years before another installment of Prodigal Lost! PL is my first focus, followed swiftly by another novel I have in the works, as well as a devotional piece for parents of premature multiples. Anticipate that release possibly as early as Spring 2016!
How long did it take you to write PL?
6 years! But really, as a writer, do we every really feel like it’s done? 🙂
Who is your favourite character? If you say satan, I will have to pray for you!
Oh, well since I can’t say Satan…ha ha ha! My favorite has got to be Mason. I connect with so many of his emotions that I think it’s impossible for him not to have a special place in my heart. An author is never able to remove themselves completely from any characters. If I could, it wouldn’t be authentic. My connection with him is one of an alternate self really. I can put him through the tests I feel I’ve been put through, and I make him survive. If he can survive, sometimes it helps me remember that I can survive too. None of us are without faults, and Mason is a reminder that Grace is free, and God has a plan for us all. He is my hope, in a way.
Now let’s talk about your book, Prodigal Lost: Oasis of the Fallen
How did you come up with the character names of Marchosias, Oasis, Lumenesca? Why did you choose a modern name like Mason for this main character?
Funny you should ask. This all started as I was fascinated by the old stories about the fallen angels. So, one day while I was in my local library, I happened upon a book by Gustav Davidson called “A Dictionary of Angels” and I was hooked. Take up the book with caution, but the castes and divisions are extremely good fodder for an active imagination such as mine. Oasis was the name I’d chosen for another character for a separate series of books, but when it came to adding the present day frame in Prodigal Lost, I chose to name her Oasis. She is, after all, a breath of fresh air, a drink of cool water for Mason. Lumenesca is a play on the word luminescent.
Does the name of Marchosias mean anything?
Marchosias was a warrior fallen angel, thus Mac’s character had a base. More than that, Mason is actually based on Mulciber from Davidson’s book, who was an architect. Like I said though, I looked in Davidson’s book for inspiration, and sometimes the hardest thing is finding the name you want your characters to have. While reading though, the basics for my story were already there.
You have set PL in New Orleans. Have you been there and why did you choose this location?
New Orleans is another of my fascinations, and until June of this year, I’ve never set foot in Louisiana. I chose it because the city is the stuff of legends, and has a rich and seedy underground history that I felt was a great place to build Satan’s following. I did some serious research as I wrote the frame of Prodigal Lost, so as to be sure the characters and their surroundings were believable. As I wrote further and further, I fell in love with the city from afar. When I heard that I had the opportunity to go there, I was so humbled. While I spent much of my time on the cusp of the French Quarter, I reveled in the fact that Mason could have been walking down this street, or his gallery would look just like this. I was blocks away from Jackson Park, and while I wasn’t able to physically visit it this time, it’s definitely on the list for the next visit because, oh yes, there will be another visit…or five… research right? 🙂
Will The Authorless Book have a part in either the next installment and/or the third one?
The Authorless Book is almost a character in and of itself. It is my way of understanding the connection of God’s word in our everyday lives. The Bible is the living word, and what is written in the Authorless Book is ever-changing, and is exactly what Mason needs to see when he opens it, whatever situation he is facing. Isn’t that how we, as Christians, are invited to use the Bible? While it’s no substitute by any means, it’s an invitation to find God in the written word, for sure.
In a Facebook conversation, David G Johnson, author, made the following comment,
The possibility of redeemed angels is a key back story theme in my Chadesh Chronicles too. Get ready, though, some people get REALLY antsy about any suggestion that there might even be a possibility for redeemed angels. Core Christian Spec Ficcers (readers of Christian Speculative Fiction) will generally be okay, but as you introduce your book to your mainstream church friends, you may get some pushback. Just be ready.
I can assure you I researched the topic thoroughly before writing Chadash Chronicles, and they can get as mad as they want about their “traditions”, but they cannot biblically prove there is not at least a “gray area” around the question.
I have had a lot of pushback during the years leading up to publication. I had Christian publishers and agents tell me it wasn’t Christian enough and mainstream publishers and agents telling me it was too Christian. But I’m glad to have it out there. Thanks for the advice David G. Johnson. I’ll take everything I can get at this point!
What pushback have you experienced and how did you handle it? Have you had any more since the publication of PL?
Honestly, I’ve heard little push back from anyone so far. The reviews and initial feelings of those that have read it and either reached out to me, or written a review, have all been able to follow the meaning I had behind this story. A lot of that understanding, and patience, I think is due to taking the advice of a friend. My publisher, Nick Downing of Flagship Fiction suggested that I write a blog about how I came up with the premise behind the book, as well as why I wrote it. That blog became the introduction, and at his suggestion, was added as a “precursory note” to the readers. It was part of what you reviewed as being a smart move, and I will not take credit for that at all. Nick was graciously looking out for me, and I cannot thank him enough for that. Because of that introduction, I feel my reasons have been made clear to those that could try to cry “foul” on this piece especially.
As David G Johnson has previously stated, some Christians who love their traditions,
“…cannot biblically prove there is not at least a “gray area” around the question..” (that fallen angels could be redeemed).
What other reason do you think that some Christians get antsy about this possibility?
I really cannot say. Other than the fact that most people like to think that a lot of the evil in the world is due to the actions of these creatures just as much as the actions of the people around the world, I can’t say why. But, that in and of itself, has built it’s own story. It’s what made me start asking the questions “Why” and “What if” and “Could we have it wrong?” and “If we have it wrong, how else could it be?” My biggest challenges have actually come from those closer to me; family actually. They challenge my thought process, they challenge my reasoning, and in the end I know it’s because they love me and care about where I’ll be someday when the trumpets sound. Another reason I wrote the book is to tell others about my experiences, but also to tell others that there is only one person with a final say, and He and I? Well, we talk every day, and I continue to pursue him and his purpose for me. My purpose is to speak to those that Jesus would speak to, and if that’s the poor, the tired, the lost and tattooed, then I will use the language I know will speak to them the most. See my blog here about being Christian and tattooed if you’d like: http://herviewfromhome.com/tattoo-faith/
In my review, I struggled with the romance elements of PL. My main issue was that both Mason and Marchosias felt desire for the two Beacons once they were redeemed and then in the present with Mason having feelings for Oasis. I made the point that this was not expected behavior and attitude for angels as designated by God when they were created, and even after they were redeemed and reconciled to Him. Can you expand on why you included this as you did so as to avoid further confusion with readers?
The romantic element was added because I wanted them to feel/seem more human. Sure, their counterparts were those that created the Nephilim by fathering children with human women. But I wanted these characters to experience loss, to experience ecstasy, and to survive human life, just as we do. In the following books, this purpose will be even more evident, so while I know you said it was off-putting and not relevant, I assure you it will be! I hope you’ll follow me on this adventure to book 2!
Erin, I will be with you throughout this entire adventure! I am very fond on this book and all it contains. Thanks for explaining this aspect.
Where did the idea of the Beacons come from?
The Beacons were created as part of the redemption and humanization of the fallen angels who wanted to return to God’s presence. They glow with the glory of God that they so desire to see again, and are there to teach them how to love again, to teach their emotions to care for others more than they care about themselves. While the human race had Jesus to show them what sacrifice means, the Fallen who want to return had Beacons…thus, the necessity for a lesson in sacrifice. Remember, of course, that the redemption of the Fallen is separate than the redemption of humans.
Now, I’ve said too much, so I can’t continue on with any further explanation. Stay tuned for book 2 for more about the Beacons!
Without giving away any spoilers, what can we expect from the next installment?
The next installment is a doozy of course! I am working on book 2 actually right now, and it’s coming along quite nicely! I am looking to a summer release in 2016, but stick close and enjoy the ride in book 1 while you wait! I am doing a lot of research actually through my Facebook page below, so please follow me there, and give me your input!
Is there only three books in this series?
There are at least 2 with the possibility of a third depending on how long the second one is. Some days I feel like two will be enough, but more and more now, I’m thinking that three is the magic number. After all, just like Mason, I see 33 everywhere! Stay tuned to my author page for more on that!
What take home message do you want readers of Paradise Lost: Oasis of the Fallen to embrace?
God’s love is free!
Anything else you would to say about Paradise Lost: Oasis of the Fallen?
I am absolutely humbled by the small successes this book has brought me. I am incredibly blessed to have a small following of friends, family and strangers who appreciate my work. I am #blessed. 🙂
Where Can Readers find You?
Website: Coming soon!
Facebook Author Page: E L.Pearson
Twitter: find me @erinlpearson
Amazon Author Page: E.L.Pearson
Any closing comments?
Please, write a review when you’ve finished reading! And find me, I’d love to connect!
Well, Erin, that was quite an interview! Enjoyed it very much! I am sure other readers now have a greater understanding and appreciation of your novel and how you developed it the way you did. I can see this interview whetting the appetites of potential readers. I look forward to the rest of this series immensely. Thanks for sharing your journey to published author. Keep in touch!
Peter Younghusband has been an avid reader from as early as he can remember. Since becoming a Christian in his early 20s, his passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on his blog. He loves reading new author’s novels or author’s who have not had many reviews or exposure and giving them much needed encouragement where appropriate.