Erik Henry Vick - Battling Beings with the Powers of Gods
Erik Henry Vick is an author who happens to be disabled by an autoimmune disease (also known as his Personal Monster™). He writes to hang on to the few remaining shreds of his sanity. His current favorite genres to write are dark fantasy and horror. He lives in Western New York with his wife, Supergirl; their son; a Rottweiler named after a god of thunder; and two extremely psychotic cats. He fights his Personal Monster™ daily with humor, pain medicine, and funny T-shirts. Erik has a B.A. in Psychology, an M.S.C.S., and a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence. He has worked as a criminal investigator for a state agency, a college professor, a C.T.O. for an international software company, and a video game developer. As our Author of the Day, he tells us about his book, Errant Gods.
Please give us a short introduction to what Errant Gods is about.
The pat, author-ish answer is that Errant Gods is about a disabled man having to battle beings with the powers of gods. That the story is about how he overcomes the things in his path, starting with his disability, but also including dragons, gods, magic, melee combat, and a universe that is much wider and yet closer than he first thought with worlds connected by portals that allow instantaneous travel.
A more honest answer, however, is that Errant Gods is about invisible disabilities--in particular, my invisible disability. I call it my curse, my Personal Monster(tm), but people who insist that monsters and curses aren't real, also know it as rheumatoid arthritis. Many of the roadblocks that Hank faces in the Blood of the Isir series have been pulled straight from my own experiences. Many of his daily struggles reflect a sanitized version of my daily struggles. The fact that humor and his family do more for him than many of the medicines he takes is also something I've learned first hand. To my knowledge, I've never met a god from the Norse pantheon, but hey, a guy's gotta take some liberties to make a story fun.
What inspired you to write about vengeful Norse gods turned serial killers?
This is a fun question to answer. I wrote about 500 pages of the original draft (240k words in that draft) before I knew the Norse gods were going to play a part in the story. Originally, I wanted to see what would happen if the wendigo myth was real--and beings had to eat human flesh to survive. That got me to the serial killer part. The rest came about as the story grew. Originally, I felt sure that Meuhlnir was going to be someone else entirely, but Mr. Story insisted that I was wrong. Once I accepted Meuhlnir's identity, I started digging into the Sagas and discovered how easy it all fit in my narrative. My genes are Norwegian (as are Hank's) so I really liked where Mr. Story took me.
This book was a 2018 Readers Favorite International Book Awards Fantasy Silver Medalist. What surprised you the most about readers' reaction to the book?
I am still gobsmacked by it, to be honest. I thought that at best, it would be considered horror first and dark fantasy second. I'm gratified to learn that my expectations were too narrow. I am honored by the award, but the numbers of readers who have contacted me and shared their own stories about their Personal Monsters(tm) is both amazing and touching.
What drew you to dark fantasy and horror?
A lot of it is because those two genres are so easy for me to write. Sometimes it feels like I'm opening the tap and watching the words come. But a significant part of what drew me to the genres was the fact that Stephen King writes books I love. The Dark Tower series is one of my favorite storylines of all time. I love so many of his stories that once my Personal Monster(tm) sank his fangs into me and I decided to write fiction to escape the existence I found myself in, I decided to try writing something that could stand alongside Mr. King's catalog.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I'm a level 49 ninja batman. I can also sometimes drink water from a glass without choking.
What fascinates you about Norse mythology?
I strongly identify with my ancestors. I've worn various nicknames in the course of my life, one being "Viking" and one being "Berserker." Both fit. I've always been fascinated by my heritage, and once I began looking into it seriously, I was amazed at how easy it was to bring parts of the mythology to life in my books. I also genuinely enjoy that not all of the Sagas have happy endings, and that the gods themselves were portrayed as having human foibles, temptations, and the like.
Some have compared your work to that of Stephen King. Are you a fan? Who are some of your favorite authors?
To say that I'm a level 49 ninja batman Stephen King fan is fair by all measures (except about the ninja batman part). My list of "favorite authors" is constantly expanding. Stephen King is always near the top of that list, but I also enjoy the work of Peter Straub, Larry Niven, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, David Gemmell, Joe Abercrombie, George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, and--most recently added--Brandon Sanderson. Ask me again tomorrow and I'll dredge up a bunch of others. I'm always reading something, and my favorite authors are those that suck me through the page, make me want to reread the same books again and again.
This book is the first in a series. Did you plan from the start to make it into a series? How do the other books tie in with this one?
There are three novels in the series so far, and a standalone novella. Errant Gods is the first, Rooms of Ruin is the next, and Wild Hunt is the third novel. They complete what I think of as the introduction to the story arc. There will be other books in the series, you can bank on it.
Do you have a favorite line from the book, and can you explain what that line means to you?
I don't think I have just one. I really enjoyed writing all the banter between spouses and friends.
Did you work out the entire plot of your book before you started to write?
No. I've done that in the past, and for me, that lessens the fun of writing. What I really enjoy is seeing the story come to life in front of me.
Do you ever have days when writing is a struggle?
Absolutely. Given my Personal Monster(tm), often I struggle with the physical aspects of writing, but I also have days when I feel horrible, or am too tired to think straight, etc.
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
No. You could say that those scenes are where I live :)
What are you working on right now?
I'm finishing up another book that is more supernatural suspense or thriller. It's about a man who finds "treasures" and is compelled to own them (a hoarder in other words). It is set in the same universe as my most popular book, Demon King, though it isn't strictly in the same story arc though there is some overlap. Next, I plan to write the sequel to Demon King.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I love to hear from readers. I can be reached via email at [email protected].
To read my blog, please visit https://erikhenryvick.com. On Facebook, you can reach me at https://ehv4.us/fb which is my page, or my open group at https://ehv4.us/fbog. On twitter, I'm known as @berserkerik. I can be found on BookBub at https://ehv4.us/bbub, on Goodreads at https://ehv4.us/gr, and on Amazon at https://ehv4.us/amausa (and https://ehv4.us/amauk for my friends across the pond).