Interview with J. M. Erickson

What motivated you to become an indie author?
Honestly, I am a control freak. The idea of letting my work be handled by other people, and at a ridiculous low royalty rate, was just beyond me. The biggest area, maybe the only one, where I let the control go is when I turn my manuscript over to complete strangers for editing. Manuscript reviews, copy-editors, proofreaders, etc. I learn so much from these knowledgeable people! Is there a downside to this control? Yup! I have to change one of my book covers because I lost objectivity and went with something I wanted as opposed to what might draw the reader. If you control everything, you're responsible for everything, good and bad.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Afterlife Code is a short science fiction novella that tells a cautionary tale of living life to its fullest.
"...everything you do is not just your point of view; when you sleep, uploaded into a shared consciousness...that you return to when you die."
Dr. Melanie Sage is a brilliant scientist who has developed a computer code for her brain implant to reduce the deleterious effects of her autism while improving cognition. With the help of her close friend and associate, Paula Dirac, she does the impossible: she creates an app on her smartphone to do just that.
Always logical and thorough, Sage triggers the application in the presence of her therapist, Robert Cobb, to ensure her safety. Unfortunately, she is unaware that his brain implant for managing posttrauma is much older, with little shielding. When Cobb begins having what looks like a seizure, she touches him to help but completes a circuit that launches them into coexisting lives, or what passes as lives.
As they pass through alternative existences, worlds where science and faith explore the edge of realities and unknown, inexplicable alternatives, they come across a man who knows them and provides them a warning to ensure they are “upgraded” when they die: “Make sure you have interesting lives and live to your fullest.”

"...A prolific author, Erickson has created numerous adventure and science fiction novels, utilizing a potent combination of his imagination and professional background (degrees in psychology and sociology as well as expertise in both cognitive behavior and post-traumatic stress). ..." - Donna Ford, US Review of Books
When did you first start writing?
I started writing in 2011 when I I had time and I couldn't find any books, especially science fiction and adventures, that were both original and held my interest. My best friend and freelance writer (John Farrell) and wife (Christine) recommended that I write my own.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For me the greatest joy is world creation with interesting characters. I just love creating the people and their personal stories - their nuances, habits, dialogue, and their interactions with the other characters. While a plot to a novel is critical, I think that many readers focus on the characters, the people they remember - who they love, who they hate, and who they would want to be.
Who are your favorite authors?
William Shakespeare, Sir Arthur C Clarke, Ray Bradburry, Joseph Conrad, Mary Shelley, Robert Browning, Samuel Coleridge, and a whole lot more.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I am lucky to have a great family and fantastic day jobs. As a therapist I'm lucky to work with people and assist in dealing with painful mental health issues and mental illness. As an adjunct professor in psychology and counseling, I am able to teach graduate and undergraduates the trade, science and craft of clinical work. My family keep me grounded in reality.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I wrote was my first book, Albatross: Birds of Flight - Book One. With time and opportunity to write, and my son as a source of inspiration, I wondered what it might be like to have a client like Jason Bourne. I wondered what it would be like to be his therapist and to help him unlock all his memories at once. Would it be a bad thing for me? Would my life change? What would I be willing to do to get my life back? All these thoughts came to mind when I started writing.
What is your writing process?
My process is simple - I go and exercise. Specifically to the gym on the elliptical or stair climber.
I may have an idea or a thought or a concept that forms the rudiments of a story which more likely come from one of the classics, but it is only after I have spent more than an hour doing aerobics, sweating, moving, and listening to music, do the plot, characters and even dialogue come to me. Lifting weights does not yield the same results. It's aerobic in nature with music. Kind of crazy but it works for me.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
There we're two stories that really affected me: From Out of the Silent Planet by Arthur C. Clarke & The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
From Out of the Silent Planet - a wonderful novella that captured my imagination with a lot of scientific knowledge required to enjoy the story;
The Longest Day - a solid narrative that made a massive human undertaking of historical proportions relateable at a human level;
Heart of Darkness - a difficult read but a great example of mental illness and decompensation;
Lord of the Rings series - I never thought that a simple story of good versus evil could be so eloquently told in poetic terms - this is a work I would love to be able to approach in skill and talent some day;
Shakespeare's Richard II - lesser known work that about power, corruption and human nature.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle - the older kind that is black and white
Describe your desk
My desks are crazy! I have one glass and metal desk that holds an old style CPU with 16 gigs of RAM, two monitors, color printer and a couple of small screen tablets. This is my writing and personal desk. My other desk right next to it is near identical except that is used exclusively for clinical work and teaching. It could all be combined to one but there is something about the "command center" effect that makes me feel self important.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a licensed clinical social worker in a group practice in the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts, USA. I specialize in working with adolescents and adults that typical suffer from some combination of mood disorder such as depression, anxiety, stress and post trauma. I've been doing this kind of direct therapy with clients since 1986. In 2005 I began teaching psychopathology, ethics, clinical treatment and cultural competency as a senior instructor at Cambridge College, School of Psychology and Counselling, Cambridge and Lawrence, Massachusetts, USA.
What do you read for pleasure?
Sadly, I have become one of those people who likes reading clinical text books, journals and...Latin. Yes, I have three Latin text books with vocabulary, readings and history. That is why you will see a lot of inner dialogues, mental health issues, flawed people, and Latin references in nearly all my books.
How do you approach cover design?
I used to rely on what I thought would be artistic and have meaning. That was a mistake. After about three poorly designed covers, and excellent direct and clear feedback, I found an excellent cover artist (Cathy Helms, Avalon Graphics) who put it all back on track. Attractive covers, reasonably priced and easy to work with, Cathy gets the job done in a timely fashion, and the feedback from others in the field is that she does good work. I've been happy with her productions. She gets the meanings and is able to project what I'm trying to get at on the covers that is professional and exquisite.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in an urban setting just outside of Boston. It's a place called Dorchester. It's known for being a melting pot and first port of call for new arrivals and families trying to make a living with the hopes of moving out to the suburbs. With more than its share of crime, poverty and strife, there are many more wonderful families from multiple ethnic backgrounds working hard to make in this country to be part of the American dream. For twenty plus years I lived across Fire Station 21, hung out with "my gang" and did a lot of watching. This experience allowed me to collect a great deal of material that would go into creating dialogue and layers to all of my characters to give them, hopefully, a realistic, textured feeling.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Writing more books has been my best marketing strategy. Winning awards - gold, silver, bronze, honorable mentions, and finalists - from such places as Foreword Reviews 2013 & 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, Readers' Favorite 2013 & 2014 International Book Awards, and 2014 CIPA EVVY Awards Book Competition, have all helped. Reviews from US Review of Books (Recommended), Kirkus Reviews (Starred) and Awesome Indies Approved has also helped get the word out,
Published 2018-07-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Afterlife Code
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 19,300. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
What if our existence was just a level in the cosmic computer game we call "life?" There is no death that is final unless you don't have an "interesting life." And if life is not lived to the fullest you could be deleted. Dr. Melanie Sage and Robert Cobb get a glimpse of the code that happens after life. Deletion or level up. That is the question.
Future Prometheus II: Revolution, Successions and Resurrections
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 119,940. Language: English. Published: May 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
Jose Melendez leads his new team to form alliances with a militaristic matriarch and the natives called "Americans" to confront a cybernetic army committed to the destruction of the human race. Lessons from a distant war comes full circle as the final conflict begins.
Future Prometheus: Emergence and Evolution
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 64,870. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
A soldier forgotten in cryogenic hibernation is revived over 130 years in the future by intelligent artificial people (APs) only to find the world he knew is gone. And in its place, a militaristic matriarch has risen from the former United States, where males are banished and a new world order is about to be toppled yet again.
Intelligent Design: Revelations
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,290. Language: English. Published: April 27, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
We are not alone in our own solar system. And only now will the truth be revealed.
Eagle: Birds of Flight - Book Three
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 77,380. Language: English. Published: April 11, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
(4.75 from 4 reviews)
This is the third installment of the Birds of Flight series. Meet Alex Burns - he's just like Jason Bourne but he remembers everything from the very start making him the government's most dangerous enemy! Eagle picks up where Raven left off
Go Down Swinging: Erotic Romance for Professional Women
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 34,210. Language: English. Published: March 27, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Erotica » Interracial, Fiction » Erotica » Women's Erotica
(4.33 from 12 reviews)
What do you do when you find your rich wife being satisfied by another man, and she has control of all the money - you call your cousins who have been in the sex trade for years, establish a sex service for women only only, make a lot of money so you can take the kids and leave her!
Raven: Birds of Flight—Book Two
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 106,450. Language: American English. Published: March 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
(4.50 from 4 reviews)
What if Jason Bourne remembered everything right from the very start? What would happen to his therapist and nurse that helped him through his post-trauma amnesia? Would the government that trained him want him and his friends to live now? What would he do to protect himself and the people who helped him from his ruthlessly efficient, former boss? Raven picks up where Albatross left off.
Albatross: Birds of Flight—Book One
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 107,580. Language: English. Published: March 9, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Spies & espionage
(4.50 from 4 reviews)
What if Jason Bourne remembered everything right from the very start? What would happen to his therapist and nurse that helped him through his post-trauma amnesia? Would the government that trained him want him and his friends to live now? What would he do to protect himself and the people who helped him from his ruthlessly efficient, former boss?
Time is for Dragonflies and Angels
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 67,350. Language: English. Published: October 4, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(4.25 from 8 reviews)
Time is for Dragonflies and Angels is a collection of flash science fiction and novellas that embraces the ideas of multi-universes and dimensions, critical decisions and judgments, and human struggles associated with racism and dystopian societies.
To See Behind Walls
Price: Free! Words: 8,160. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
The 2016 version of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty short story: This short story is about Benjamin Wood. He is a suburban father of two, loving husband and dog owner in Middle America who has a lot of things to do around the house on a cold, winter Saturday morning. You may not know anyone like him but at the very least he will be familiar to you.
Future Prometheus: The Series
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 184,160. Language: English. Published: November 14, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
In the tradition of dystopian science-fiction, the Future Prometheus - The Series compiles five novellas into on full-length epic of a world where the science we know today has warped into masterful and terrifying ways. Covering the span of one hundred sixty years, a pandemic has killed nearly all men, women have established military matriarch, and the rise of androids threaten all of humanity.
Rogue Event
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 24,840. Language: English. Published: November 7, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.50 from 6 reviews)
Rogue Event is a collection of six integrated science fiction short stories (novella) presented in under a hundred pages. The story arc looks at the approach of a massive rogue planet hurtling past our solar system from five very different perspectives. The year is 2137 and Earth is united into one global organization. While collision is not possible, danger on a global scale is probable.
Intelligent Design: Revelations to Apocalypse
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 91,110. Language: English. Published: October 28, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
Two science fiction novellas, Revelations and Apocalypse, in one book. Revelations finds two women on different worlds finding more truths than expected or wanted. Apocalypse may mean the end of one world but the beginning for other planets within our own solar system.
Flight of the Black Swan
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 23,840. Language: English. Published: October 22, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
(4.67 from 6 reviews)
Flight of the Black Swan is an action/adventure novella from the Birds of Flight series. Departing from the full novel format, this novella takes off right where Falcon left off with action and unresolved questions. Based on the series’ rich storyline, complex plot, and layered characters, this novella assumes that the reader has read the four prior books – Albatross, Raven, Eagle and Falcon.
Falcon: Birds of Flight
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 110,740. Language: English. Published: October 22, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
(4.50 from 6 reviews)
Falcon is the fourth installation of the action/adventure series Birds of Flight. In the previous book, Eagle, former government agent Alexander J. Burns was captured by Eric Daniels' men to be brought back alive for interrogation. Finally, the truth will be revealed and most of the loose ends will be tied.
The Prince: Lucifer's Origins
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 81,270. Language: English. Published: October 22, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
(4.50 from 6 reviews)
Prince Victor Venture IX is a twelve year old prince who has successfully avoided his call to serve. All is not as it would appear. Palace intrigues, conspiracies and lust for power pervades the Kingdom while the ancient species, the Xenon, desperately try to prevent further atrocities upon the realm's own citizens.
Intelligent Design II: Apocalypse
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 46,920. Language: English. Published: October 22, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
(4.50 from 6 reviews)
Hidden planets, preexisting advanced civilizations, coexisting hominid species, and new revelations have all led to the end of days. Whether by twist of fate or by the hands of the Originators, the Jovian planet is about to ignite into a sun. Apocalypse picks up from where the award-winning Intelligent Design: Revelations leaves off, with more answers that are far darker than the questions.
Intelligent Design:Revelations
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,640. Language: English. Published: July 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
(4.50 from 4 reviews)
“Intelligent Design: Revelations is a wonderfully absorbing science fiction novella presenting existential questions that occupy the reader’s mind long after the book has been put down....the dialogue is well-crafted and meaningful and the characters fully reveal their humanity as they interact with one another and react to events that are life-changing and beyond control.” - Suzanne Owen, Editor