Erik Henry Vick - Plunging Readers Face-First Into Evil

Erik Henry Vick - Plunging Readers Face-First Into Evil
author of the day

Erik Henry Vick happens to be disabled by an autoimmune disease (also known as his Personal Monster™) and writes to hang on to the few remaining shreds of his sanity. He writes mostly dark fantasy and horror, such as Devils, his latest collection of short stories. As our Author of the Day, Vick reveals the inspiration behind this book and talks about how he likes to scare his protagonists and his readers.

Please give us a short introduction to what Devils is about

The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that there was only one devil.   The point of this collection is to plunge the reader face-first into the deep end of evil. Each story paints a chilling portrait of a different face of evil and the mortals who must face them. The Devil illustrates the dangers of love and addiction when a fallen war hero meets an ancient incarnation of chaos and corruption in the form of a beautiful woman.  In Vengeance, Rick Bergen, a man consumed by hatred and a wanton lust for revenge, learns the true cost of a blackened heart when he accepts help from Baron Kriminel, the much-feared Voodoo spirit of vengeance. A psychotic religious zealot kidnaps a young woman so she might become another wife and bear him sons for the coming apocalypse in Sister Wives. Three powerful beings sow terror and destruction among the native tribes and colonial New Yorkers alike in Wendigo.  Drifting tells the tale of a man who must keep his appointment in Buffalo, no matter the cost, or there will be hell to pay. Also includes a four-chapter preview of Errant Gods, my next novel which is coming out on Halloween of 2017. Read at your own risk, but if you do, keep the lights on.

What inspired you to write a collection of short stories about the Devil?

After reading a friend's scifi short story that used repetition as a plot device, a sentence got suck in my mind: I've seen the devil, and she was gorgeous. At the time, I was finishing my final re-write of Errant Gods and hadn't written a single short for twenty years or so. I didn't want to write a short story, let alone a collection of them, but there that sentence was lodged in my brain and wouldn't leave me alone. I found myself coming up with other sentences that matched the pattern: I {action} the devil, and {consequence}. After about a week of that, I had twenty or more of those sentences jotted down, and I started to put them in an order of sorts. I knew the beginning, and I knew the ending. From there, the story just took off, and I knew I had to write it. It poured out of me like water, building itself almost--it was like it was alive, and all it wanted from me is a bit of research (giving Lily her foreign language slang, the geography of Brighton Beach, etc.). It was a tremendous amount of fun to write. I decided to try another piece, and bang, I was off like a racehorse.  Vengeance came from my true-life experience of being called to my parents' house one morning at 4 am because their former neighbor's son tried to break in. They weren't home, so the dire results of that call came strictly from my imagination--thankfully. Sister Wives happened out of nowhere. I was back to thinking about Errant Gods and sat down to write one afternoon, but instead of opening the manuscript, I opened a blank file and wrote a fifth of the story in one sitting. Wendigo was already partially written as a part of Errant Gods that got cut (my first draft of Errant Gods was 240,000 words). Drifting came to pass because a friend challenged me to write one of his prompts for a writing group he was running. I'd never done flash, so I decided to give it a few days, and if it didn't work, I'd give up. I wrote it in one afternoon and loved it from the start. Then they sat, collecting electronic dust. I sent The Devil to one magazine, but most of these stories are too long to be considered by today's magazines. Finally, my wife told me to do something with Sister Wives (her favorite of the bunch), and the result was Devils.

Your stories bridge reality and the occult with ease - how did you pull this off?

Thank you for the compliment. I wrote about antagonists whose nature depends on them tricking the protagonist into coming along, at least in the beginning of the story. While that was going on, I wanted the reader to suspect a supernatural influence, but leave them unsure.

How do you manage to keep the atmosphere of creepiness throughout your stories?

I remember deciding that "this needs to be a spooky moment" and then trying to scare the pants off my protagonist. Ditto with creepy moments. I also put myself in the place of the protagonist and asked what would freak me out, and then wrote it. Some of it comes from loving horror movies, and some of it comes from loving authors like Stephen King, Joe Hill, Peter Straub, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, etc.

Which story from this collection is your personal favorite? Why?

For me, The Devil is hard to beat. The fact that our myths and beliefs are based on older myths, which are, in turn, based on yet older myths is intriguing to me. The layers, the Matryoshka-doll structure of it, draws me in every time. The idea that these layers might have started with something true is also cool. None of this is original thought, but it does drive my fiction--especially the part about it being based on reality  (and that it is a particularly nasty reality).

Lily is on my mind, even now. I am trying to decide whether she will have a recurring role in my work.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

I'm a ninja. Well, okay, that's a lie. I am really good at making coke come out of my son's nose. Plus, I'm a ninja. I've gotten pretty good at fighting monsters (see below).

Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you

1) I'm disabled by my Personal Monster (tm) --(aka rheumatoid arthritis).

2) I have a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence that I used in academia and the game industry.

3) I'm not really a ninja. (yes I am).

How do you force yourself to finish what you're doing before starting the next project when the new idea is nagging at you?

I have a notebook in One Note named "The Cookerator." Inside that notebook is a page called "The Crockpot." When I get an idea that I think might be worth developing, I put it in the crockpot and let it slow cook. I've found that writing the idea down is sometimes enough to let me go on with what I was doing before the epiphany struck. Sometimes, though, as was the case with The Devil, I just have to set the first thing aside and let the idea run around for a while.

Your work takes you to some very dark places. Do you ever get nightmares while writing your stories?

No, but sometimes my nightmares give me stories :) In my current work-in-progress, I use an image straight out of a nightmare that woke me up at 4:45 am.

You have 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. How have these experiences influenced your work?

I've heard it said that to be a good author, you have to write about what you know. The truth to that is debatable, but I do tend to draw on my experience when developing characters or scenes. Each of those positions taught me things about the human condition. I use my Personal Monster (tm) a lot in that regard as well.

Talk to us a bit about your writing habits. Do you write early in the morning, or through the night? Pen or laptop?

Because of my disability, I have a specific set of hardware and software I use to get the job done. See more here: and here:

I almost always write in the afternoon. My disease dictates how long I write each day. For me, the afternoon is the best time, both physically and creatively.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I try to write between 10 and 20 pages a day, but, again due to my Personal Monster(tm), I sometimes don't write at all. Most often, I try to get close to 10 pages.

What are you working on right now?

I'm working on a story about monsters (shocker!). In this case, the monsters live in the woods and feed on children's fear.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

I love to interact with my readers.





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This deal has ended but you can read more about the book here.