I have great pleasure in sharing my interview with Ericka Clay, author of A Violent Hope. Ericka talks about home schooling, blinking a book into existence, and sharing the gospel.
Ericka Clay is a published novelist and the author of Unkept and Dear Hearts. She graduated from the University of Arkansas creative writing program and has published a book of short stories and poetry. She has been awarded a number of times by Writers Digest for various short fiction pieces, and has written four novels (one of which placed as a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest). Ericka has had the privilege of sharing her craft, teaching writing classes and holding writers workshops in the South Texas area. She’s released her latest novel, A Violent Hope, for publication through her publishing imprint, Believable Books.
Ericka lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband, daughter, two dogs and an insatiable need to push buttons, both figuratively and literally.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
Well, let’s see. I’m thirty-five, married to my best friend (I know everybody says that, but even if we weren’t married, I’d still be hanging out with him on the couch), have an eleven-year-old daughter who’s crazier than I am (scary), and I’m currently in the process of writing my next novel. I started writing in the sixth grade. We had this poetry project we had to do, and I was the only one who didn’t groan about it. I loved it and requested we do another one. They locked me out of the classroom. Kidding. Mostly. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. And when I’m not doing that I’m home schooling my kiddo, cooking for my family, playing disc golf with friends, and plugging in at our church. We know good people which makes life fun.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
This is the third novel I’ve written, second that’s been published. Before this, I had an agent and traditional publisher that published my book, Unkept. I also self-published a novella called Dear Hearts.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
This book is technically Christian fiction, but I bristle a bit at that label. It’s a very real and raw look at life before following Christ, and I feel most Christian fiction tends to be candy-coated and not at all reflective of what real life is. I think there’s an awesome opportunity to share the gospel with those who are hurting and to let them know that Jesus is their advocate, not a representative of some sweet, perfect life where everything turns out a-okay.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
I was an atheist five years ago, and once I started following Jesus, I realized there was a real need for well-crafted fiction that had something to say. This was actually a manuscript I had started years ago, and it took a lot of dusting off (and a hefty removal of some really foul language!) to get it up to snuff and tell the story I wanted it to tell.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Embrace the journey. It’s hard, long, and tedious, but I think you find out something great about yourself when you stay dedicated and don’t give up. The only difference between you and everyone else who failed at this is that you don’t scare easily or walk away from a challenge.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
For me, I feel connected to God. It’s prayer and worship wrapped all into one. And even before becoming a Christian, I felt like I was tapping into something much greater than myself. I just didn’t know what it was at the time.
List three interesting facts about yourself.
I did ballet growing up with Chelsea Clinton. I’m a fourth Mexican (nobody ever guesses that!), I’m a writer. I’m adding that last part because whenever I tell somebody that they practically swoon.
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
Probably how long it takes. I sometimes wish I could just blink a book into existence. But I guess that’s just helped to strengthen my intestinal fortitude and whatnot.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Review it and share it online! Reviews and shares are the lifeblood of indie authors.
What is your next project?
I’m writing a novel called You Once Were Darkness. It’s a story about a woman dealing with her daughter’s ADHD and eventual cancer diagnosis and how that later plays into her involvement with an ex-gang member who is battling with the aftermath of his cousin’s initiation. Very different from A Violent Hope!
Mack Reynolds is battling his demons. After years spent attempting to heal wounds from being abused as a child, he confronts the author of his nightmares–his uncle–leading to a catastrophic decision and permanently sealing his fate.
When Natalie, Mack’s wife, convinces herself that she won’t be able to support her family on her own, she moves herself and her daughter to White Smoke, Arkansas where she has a new job lined out and the hope of a new beginning. But after being demoted in a mere six months, meeting a less than reputable “best friend,” and chasing the same addiction that helped fuel her husband’s final breakdown, Natalie ends up spiraling out of control and comes out worse the wear ten years later.
All grown up, her daughter, Wren, struggles with her own addiction and a never ending series of tough situations she blames on her father’s early demise. It’s not until Mack’s mother, Rochelle, can confront her past, her questionable living arrangement with her husband and his mistress, and the bitter hurt that’s metastasized inside of her that Natalie and Wren can receive the guidance they both desperately need. But is it too late?
Told through the lives of the three women touched by Mack’s struggle, A Violent Hope takes a deeper look into the human heart and the God who repeatedly heals all wounds.
Huge thanks to Ericka for joining me and sharing her writing journey. If you want to find out more about the author or her books follow the links below:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/erickaclaywrites/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/erickaclaywrites/
“The story is full of the raw messiness of life, including time after time when bad choices are made that negatively impact the individuals involved and others close to them. But what kept tugging at me as a reader was the thread of Hope — at times almost hidden, but still there — that kept showing up in the lives of the characters.” Pamela A Burke, Amazon Reviewer, US