I fell in love with Erika Marks’ writing after reading The Guest House earlier this year (to see my full review, click here) and I am thrilled that she has a new book which just came out!
To celebrate the release of her new book It Comes in Waves (which hit stores July 1st), we sat down and did a Q&A with Erika herself and asked her questions about her new book, her writing, and much more! I have had so much fun getting to know Erika and she is one of the sweetest authors out there who absolutely adores her readers.
Thank you so much for sitting down with Karen’s Korner and participating in a Q&A session. What was your inspiration for ‘It Comes in Waves?’ How do you come up with your ideas for books?
Hi Karen! Thank you so much for these wonderful questions, and for inviting me over for a visit!
I have always loved the culture of surfing, always been attracted to it and to the sport itself, but it wasn’t until I moved to the Carolinas and started spending time in Folly Beach, where there is a vibrant surf culture, that the story took shape. Most often, my stories will evolve out of a relationship between characters, or maybe a source of tension, that lends itself to a compelling storyline—but in the case of IT COMES IN WAVES, the desire to set a story in Folly Beach and use the subject of surfing prominently in the characters’ lives really drove the evolution of the novel.
Out of all your books, who has been your favorite character to write about and why?
Karen, I LOVE this question—I’ve never been asked this and I had a great time thinking about my answer. As you can imagine, it’s impossible to pick just one—or even two!—but if pressed: Maybe because it was my first published novel, but I might say Dahlia from LITTLE GALE GUMBO. She was such a tough nut to crack but I adored her—warts and all—and she had plenty! I wanted so desperately to get her to a place of love, where she could put down the walls she’d built up, because she was so fiercely loyal to her family and to her own beliefs, but she was determined to shut herself off to love. She was fiery and independent but fearless—except when it came to letting a man inside her heart.
I would also say Dean from THE MERMAID COLLECTOR was great fun to write because there is something a little dangerous about him, a recklessness that is so raw and unpredictable that he seemed impossible to contain even as I wrote his scenes. He creates chaos for those around him, especially his older and deeply serious brother Tom, but there is a certain infectiousness about him, an irresistibility, that makes life with him an adventure you want to follow—even if you fear at times he will lead you right off a cliff.
What is your writing process like? Do you write an outline before every book you write and do you write every day?
During the summer while my little ones are out of school, my writing schedule fluctuates but during the school year I can be more regimented. I never outline a whole book but I may thumbnail sketch a few scenes in advance. For me, a first draft is pretty raw and I know it’s in subsequent drafts where I’ll dig in and really get to the meat of the story and my characters, so I think I allow myself a lot of room to experiment initially.
What has been the best compliment you’ve received about any of your books?
People have said SUCH kind and amazing things over the years and I treasure every word. I think one of the most powerful compliments is when readers tell you they couldn’t put the book down or that they identified with the character in some very deep way. As a storyteller, it is my greatest hope that my books move my readers enough for them to feel passionately about a character—it means the world!
If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?
I have had the good fortune to do a lot of things in my work life but most likely I’d return to being an illustrator.
Do you have a favorite author and what would be your top 5 all-time favorite books?
I have so many favorite authors—not to mention favorite books! But if I had to pick my very favorites, the list would have to include:
- The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
- The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
- The Shining, Stephen King
- Blackbird House, Alice Hoffman (though I could easily say any one of hers)
- We Don’t Live Here Anymore, by Andre Dubus
- The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy
What are you currently reading?
I just finished The Unexpected Waltz by Kim Wright which I loved so now I’m looking at my TBR pile and trying to pick what’s next—which is no easy task if you could see my pile! That said, I’m always open to recommendations if anyone wants to share some in the comments, I’d love it!
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Be patient and keep writing. Don’t hang your hat on one book. Be prepared to write another—and don’t worry, like a romance that doesn’t work out, you are sure you can never love a new book as feverishly as you loved the one you wrote before it, but you will and you must. Always be professional and mindful of the contacts you make—nurture them so that they can grow with you.
Do you have any fun plans this summer and have you ever tried surfing?
Actually, my family and I were lucky enough to spend a week in Folly Beach when school let out and it was amazing to be back in the setting of the novel, to be surrounded by all the sights and smells and sounds that I had rolling around my head in the months while I was writing. And of course the surfing! I only wish I was the surfer Claire is but I’m not—it’s thanks to good friends who are gifted surfers that I was able to convey the sport in the novel and learn so much about the craft of the sport—I am in awe of those who can do it so well.
I’ve read that you make a pretty delicious gumbo! Is that your favorite thing to cook or do you have another favorite dish you love making?
You are kind! I can make a good gumbo but in all truth my husband, who is a native New Orleanian, is the true gumbo cook in the house. I do love to cook but I’m a lazy cook without the patience to make extremely involved dishes and gumbo requires A LOT of patience. I’m also a huge fan of desserts so to me a cheesecake or a bread pudding might be my favorite thing to make.
If you’re allowed to tell us, what can your readers expect next? Are you currently working on anything new?
I am in the very early stages of a new project—so new in fact that I know very little about it except that it will feature a shipwreck—but I am so excited about it, even in this beginning stage. I’ve begun to map out the characters and they fascinate me which is always the hope!
I’m also working with the uber-talented author Jane Porter and her new imprint, Tule Publishing, on Southern-set novellas with Kim Boykin. Our series is called Carolina Born and the stories are great fun, perfect for summer reading—and very romantic!
To celebrate the release of her new novel, Erika and her team have graciously provided Karen’s Korner with a copy of It Comes in Waves for a giveaway! Enter via the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway