Today we talk to Erik Therme.

Erik ThermeQ) Tell us something about yourself.

I managed a video store for five years and love watching movies—the more obscure, the better. I’m also a semi-compulsive organizer and can easily spend hours making spreadsheets, lists, or reorganizing the nooks and crannies of our house. Fortunately for me, the 11-year-old has the same compulsion, so it makes for good quality time.

Q) Tell us about your latest book. Why do you think the readers will like it?

Mortom is a mainstream mystery about family secrets and how far people are willing to go to expose them. When Andy Crowl’s estranged cousin dies, Andy goes to the small town of Mortom to survey the estate. Inside the house, he discovers a dead rat with a key and note that says: Follow me. From there, he has one week to decipher a series of clues to unravel the mystery of his cousin’s death.

I believe Mortom will appeal to those who enjoy ‘non-traditional’ mysteries. There are no serial killers, burnt-out cops, and/or retired FBI agents—only a normal, everyday guy, thrown into extraordinary circumstances. And who wouldn’t love to play a ‘real life’ game of follow-the-clues?

Q) How did you come up with the title of the book?

I was at the library and came across a paperback with the word MORTEM written on the spine. Upon closer inspection, I realized the library sticker was covering the word POST, and the title of the book was actually POST-MORTEM. The word stuck in my head, and I realized it would make a great name for a creepy small town. I changed the E to an O, and the fictional town of Mortom was born.

Q) What kind of research did you do for your book?

The town of Mortom is modelled after Farmington, Iowa, where my father grew up. One of the advantages of basing your novel on a real place is the ability to drive there and seek inspiration, which I did on multiple occasions.

Q) Which of the Characters in your book are your favourites and why?

My favourites are protagonist Andy Crowl and his cantankerous Aunt Mary. Mary was always fun to write, as she has no qualms about speaking her mind—especially with Andy. It was always a joy to put them in the same room together and let them go at it.

Q) How did you formulate this character? Is it based on someone you know?

Andy is little more than a thinly disguised version of me, while Aunt Mary is based on a woman I knew years ago. Seeing as how Mary is less than enduring, I will refrain from saying anymore, as I never know who might be reading this. . .

Q) Every Author has a distinct writing style. How would you describe your style and how do you think you came to form it?

I often joke that I ‘learned to write by reading Stephen King,’ but it’s the absolute truth. I discovered The Stand in junior high and immediately began crafting my own tales of horror. Most were pretty lousy, but the more King I devoured, the more respectable my writing became. Eventually I moved away from the ‘supernatural elements’ and found my own style and voice.

Q) How long have you been working on this book and what inspired you to write it?

The first draft of Mortom (written many, many, many years ago) was basically a Stephen King type tale of horror. It wasn’t very good, and I rewrote it again—this time without the supernatural elements. The next draft was better, but still not quite right, and it went back in the drawer. It wasn’t until the third rewrite—where I introduced the concept of ‘follow the clues’—that I was finally able to shape it into the finished tale.

Inspiration was simple: Small towns always hold the best secrets, and I thought it would be fun to construct a story in one.

Q) When did you start writing and when did you realize you want to become an Author?

When I was a child I loved to draw, and everyone thought I would be an artist. When I reached my teens, my interests shifted to music and writing. One of the challenges of being in a band was relying on other people to accomplish goals, and I preferred the solidarity of writing. I don’t think anyone was surprised when I quit music and began my first novel.

Q) Who are some of the Authors you like and how do you think their work inspired you?

One of my new favourite authors is Alden Bell, who wrote the brilliant novel The Reapers Are the Angels. It’s a tasty bit of literary fiction, set in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies. I’m currently halfway through his next book and loving that as well. I would read this man’s laundry list. Yeah, he’s that good.

Outside of Bell, I’ll pick up pretty much anything that looks interesting. A few of my favourites: I Am Legend (Richard Matheson); Murder by the Slice (Rob Cline); and Battle Royale (Koushun Takami). I find inspiration in everything I read, because every author brings something unique to the table.

Q) What do you think is the most difficult part about writing and publishing a novel?

For me, the biggest challenge is often the first draft. Some authors revel in starting a story from scratch, but I relish rewrites, where I get to polish the language, flesh out my characters, and fine-tune the plot. That said, it’s easy to get caught up in endlessly tweaking the story and feeling like it’s never finished. At some point you have to say ‘enough is enough’ and move on. Otherwise it can drive you insane.

Marketing can also be a challenge. Your book is competing with millions of others—some better, some worse—and you have to work hard to make people aware of it. I’ve done everything from hang flyers around town to advertising on craigslist. A successful writer is always writing and promoting their work, which can be a challenge, as there are only so many hours in the day.

Q) What is some advice you will like to give to people trying to write and get their stories published?

Never give up. It’s your life and your dream. I would love to say good writing is most of the battle, but it’s not. Timing, circumstance, and luck all play a huge factor. All you can do is believe in yourself and try to make as much luck as you can.

Q) Tell us something about what you are working on or about some of your future projects.

Resthaven will be released in spring 2015 and centres on a group of kids who explore an abandoned nursing home. The project originally began as a young adult novel for my 15-year-old, but each draft changes so dramatically, I will be as curious as everyone else to see the final product.

Q) From amongst all the novels ever published if you had to write any one, which one would it be and why?

Catcher in the Rye: It’s as if Salinger peeked into my brain while writing this book and captured some of my most intimate thoughts. Which is actually kind of frightening.

Q) If you had to convince someone to read your book in 5 lines what would they be?

Mortom is a brisk, fast read, designed to be devoured in one or two sittings—perfect for that airplane ride or that long, lazy afternoon at the beach!


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