This time I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Diehl about this passion, which is among other things, writing of course :)
Books & Writing: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself .
Eric Diehl: On my website I call myself a ‘Jack of all trades, Master of none’, and while that may be a somewhat playful characterization, I’d say it’s fairly apt. I have a pilot’s license and used to fly a gyro-copter (looks like a mini-helicopter) that I built from a kit, and I’ve always loved motorcycles (I regularly teach safety classes). I started working young, running a large newspaper route at the age of 12, but later had a hard time merging into the corporate mainstream. Most of my professional career has involved IT in some form, usually relating to software development, though I have from time to time gone off on tangents involving such diverse avocations as desktop publishing, screen-printing, building guitars and turning wood on a lathe. My favorite challenge, though, is writing!
Books & Writing: Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Eric Diehl: Yes, though it was never finished and it got lost in a hard-drive crash long ago. The basis of it was a man whose life was very humdrum until he slept, but then he would experience extreme adventure. His dreams had become his life. Every night was something new (including a rather steamy sexual scene, as I vaguely recall), and it evolved sort of like a series of short stories.
Books & Writing: Were you inspired by someone or something?
Eric Diehl: When I was very young it was Greek/Roman mythology that transformed me from a struggling reader to a kid reading above his grade level. Lord of the Flies was one of the first more serious reads that I recall, and Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ was what hooked me on science fiction. Stephen King held sway for a time, shifting me for a time into the pure horror genre, and my current favorites include George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, Greg Keyes and Joe Abercrombie. Oddly enough, I had some difficulty hooking up with what many consider the ultimate fantasy series, that being Lord of the Rings.
Books & Writing: What do you love about writing a story?
Eric Diehl: I find that my process of thought becomes more focused when I’m writing. One of the most appealing aspects for me is the way that the story sometimes begins to tell itself. Those times when I get on a real roll (not always, I assure you), I am fascinated by how new characters or situations seem to develop of their own volition—surprising even the author!
Books & Writing: Can you tell us something about your book “Guild of the Viizar”, the characters and how long you worked on the book?
Eric Diehl: The creation of this novel was spread out over a few years time. It is a loose sequel to my original novel, set a generation after its predecessor. It involves the Guild, which is comprised of lunar-based practitioners of a form of sorcery and which is led by a seriously bad fellow—the Grande Maester—who intends to plunder the energy of the protagonists’ home planet. The members of the Guild have become more able to bend reality to their will by simply envisioning the desired changes in a drug-induced state. There are fantastic characters (and by that I mean very unusual), and love interests throughout, and of course a fair bit of fighting and treachery. The protagonist is Airen, the heir to House Alar, and his primary allies are fem-macho sister Andra and martial-arts expert Leah (his wife’s sister). It is a stand-alone story, though the reader would do better to build a connection to it by first reading the original novel (Water Harvest).
Books & Writing: What attracts you in Science Fiction and Fantasy?
Eric Diehl: The depth of imagination. I am still astounded at how a skilled author can allow me to accept almost anything, no matter how outlandish, if he or she sets up the story properly. There is also the escape factor—I can, for a time, leave all real-world concerns behind, and join with my new friends in an adventure on a very different world.
Books & Writing: How does it feel to have a book published?
Eric Diehl: It feels fantastic! My first novel was published by Double Dragon Publishing, but though I was entirely happy with DDP, I elected to self-publish the second novel and my anthology. My primary reason for that is that I can make things happen more quickly, and I have more control over the process.
Books & Writing: I understand you also wrote a few other books and short stories. Can you tell us a bit about those?
Eric Diehl: My first novel, Water Harvest, was the loose prequel to Guild of the Viizar. The first novel also involves conflicts between the home planet and its lunar colonies, but it is a conflict of a very different nature, based on the scarce supply of water. This is where some of my more fantastic characters introduced themselves to me. Water Harvest was originally intended to be hard science fiction, but I became so enamored with some of my surprise characters that I allowed it to run with a more fanciful flow.
I have also written several short stories (which tend to be on the lengthy side), four of which have been previously published in small press anthologies. I decided to self-publish the full collection as an anthology, titled “24:01 - One Minute After”, and to offer it as a free ebook download. My intention is to use 24:01 to gain name recognition, working under the assumption that readers will take a chance on an author that they are not familiar with if the effort costs them only a little time, and once they develop a liking for my writing they will come back for my novels. The stories in 24:01 range from SciFi to Fantasy to Horror, and the book can be downloaded at www.smashwords.com, or previewed at www.ericdiehl.com.
I’ve also posted some motorcycle and RV travel articles on my website, some of which have been published in various magazines.
Books & Writing: Are you working on something new?
Eric Diehl: Yes, I’m hard at work on a third novel that is based on the same planet, but this time I’ve gone very far back in time, where technology is in its early stages. The dragon-like drakka will play a substantial role in this tale.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Eric Diehl: The most common (and probably most valuable) tip is to just get down and write! I believe that Stephen King once made a comment along the lines of ‘I can fix a page of crap, but I can’t fix a blank page’. I stopped trying to fully outline my stories before I started, because that wasn’t working well for me and I simply wasn’t doing much writing. I now start with a basic premise and let the story develop itself on the fly. A second word of advice would be to edit, edit, edit (oops, that’s kinda three words). I spend considerably more time editing and fixing than I do with the first draft, and I still sometimes surprise myself when I’m able to change an uninspiring passage into something that can fully engage a reader’s attention.
Books & Writing: Where can people go and read your work?
Eric Diehl: Links to my works are available at www.ericdiehl.com. Digital versions can be had at most ebook retailers, and large-format paperback versions can be found at www.lulu.com. Smashwords also offers file formats that can be read from a PC (like pdf or txt or html), for readers who do not yet have an ebook device.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on internet?
Eric Diehl: One could always google my name, but the shortest route is probably my site, www.ericdiehl.com.
Below is an excerpt from "Guild of the Viizar"!
The Grande Maester led the procession of two down the antiseptic corridor, rhetorically addressing his grand discourse mostly to the ceiling, but he now cast a questioning eye over one shoulder, requesting confirmation. Second Maester Ozgar nodded in response, though with less than fervent zeal. All the color was drained from Ozgar’s face and his jowls hung like wet laundry from a clothesline. Ott frowned at this lack of fortitude, but the Maester’s blanch was pretty much a given, considering that the transition from open space tended to lend the sensation of puddling-out under the settling mass of the universe. The gravity maintained in the lunar colonies—and hence the Guild domicile—was far less than its natural occurrence planet-side, and although the Grande Maester always pressed his acolytes to condition themselves for it, acclimatization was typically required once the planet’s gravitational field imposed itself.
Not so for Ott, however, as evidenced by his mincing sideways prance down the span of the lower gangway, capering as if a stirring composition livened his feet while he performed for an audience of his own making. Trundling in the Grande Maester’s wake, by contrast, Ozgar called to mind a ponderous barge trolling along behind a pilot-boat with a captain well into his cups.
Humming an oddly compelling duotone Ott swept up to the spanning viewport protruding below the Starship’s bulbous snout, where a white luminescence, lit by reflection from the planet surface far below, filled the frame like a video-screen tuned to a dropped channel. The iridescent port had the appearance of a reversed void—a show of electrified white-noise—but the image was short-lived, for as if on queue the ship dropped out of the field of crystallized ice and the macro-features of the planet gathered into focus.
The view shimmered into melding shades of brown and grey, highlighted by cautious splashes of green, with mountain ranges appearing little more than shadowed wrinkles in a crumpled sheet of parchment not entirely smoothed out. Wisps of cloud drifted few and far apart, and even the muted colors of the arid planet leapt out in contrast to the abyssal blackdrop of open space that stretched away on every periphery. From such a high vantage the upper edge of the globe verged into a white ubiquity that was both brilliant and pure, but that view held little interest for Ott, because it marked the transition into the supremely austere Frozen Quadrant—a sterile, useless place if ever there was one.
The Grande Maester leaned forward and sketched a fingernail along the thick, frosted opti-pane, tracing the length of the dominant mountain chain of the planet, until his finger stopped poised overtop a jagged abscess in the crux of two diverging ranges. Ott released a sigh and a lilting titter fled his lips, like a chirm of finches settling down to roost. He tapped a fingertip there.
“Behold, Ozgar, there germinates the seed of my legacy!” He fairly hummed. “Even from such unremarkable origins the Guild will drive its transformation into the dominant power extant in the cosmos. We will burst from our protective cocoon of self-perpetuation; unleashing a veritable outpouring of Knowledge and Works to transform a bland mono-scape into a conceptual vision of stunning proportions.” He again tapped a finger on the thick pane, his ocular vision clouded over but his Mind’s Eye intently focused. “There, Ozgar,” he cooed. “There awaits our future, haplessly bound to an amalgamation of geological chance and happenstance evolution. The means of ascension is there, wasted on a population that forever misses the opportunity streaming past beneath their feet.” He sighed wistfully.
“But we will change everything.”