The Writing Life is very pleased to welcome Eric Douglas, author of Return to Cayman.
Life is an adventure for author Eric Douglas, above and below the water, and wherever in the world he ends up. Eric received a degree in Journalism from Marshall University. He has worked in local newspapers where he honed his skills as a story teller. Following a stint as a freelance journalist in the former Soviet Union, Eric became a dive instructor. Not too much later, he became a Diving Medical Technician. Moving from California to North Carolina, he became the Director of the Training and Education Department at Divers Alert Network. The ocean and diving have factored into all his novels since then.
What is your book’s genre/category?
I write in a couple different genres, but my primary series of books, the Mike Scott series, is Action/Thriller/Suspense.
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Return to Cayman is the sixth book in the series. They are all thrillers set in island/exotic locations with an underwater/scuba diving theme. I’ve had the good fortune to work in the scuba diving industry for nearly 20 years, and it has taken me to some beautiful places, all of which have (or will) be settings for books. My first novel, Cayman Cowboys, was set on Grand Cayman. For my latest book, my character is returning to Grand Cayman after being away for 10 years. Just about all of my stories contain an environmental element, and it is forefront in this one, but the primary theme/problem is cybercrime.
How did you come up with the title?
Cayman Cowboys came out in 2005, so for this 10th anniversary, I wanted to take Mike Scott back. And Return to Cayman was born. It just made sense. Plus, from a marketing perspective, Cayman is a recognized place and I thought that would appeal to people interested in traveling vicariously to the islands.
What is the reason you wrote this book?
All my stories have some element of history or current events in them. In August of 2014, a cruise ship dropped anchor on a reef in Grand Cayman, destroying a section of reef. The locals and the dive community are working to restore the reef. The first action sequence in the book covers a cruise ship grounding and then spins off on tangents. It gave me a chance to talk about what happens to the reef when something like that happens. I also plan to donate a portion of the first couple month’s royalties to the reef recovery effort.
What is your favorite part of writing?
I always tell people I love to write because it keeps the voices in my head quiet. Or at least quieter…
What is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Focus. My voices come up with so many great ideas, it is hard for me to pick and choose the stories that will make it all the way to the end. And, of course, in the middle of a book, when it feels like a slog and you are never going to get through it, it is so easy to get distracted with something new and shiny.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I grew up on science fiction: Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury. In my 20’s I really got into Tom Clancy. I’ve read just about everything from Clive Cussler and others in that vein. I really enjoyed The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro recently, and I’m on my third book by Sheila Redling right now.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
From a writing/stylistic perspective, I’d have to say Clancy and Cussler. Clancy for the detail and the ability to weave multiple, disparate storylines together and end up at the same place. Cussler for the unabashed adventure and fun. I hope I do them both justice. I’d also have to give a hat-tip to Jacques Cousteau and reading National Geographic all my life for the desire to explore the world and the ocean.
Favorite place to write?
I have a home office. In the winter, I’m there, and I love to have a fire in the fireplace. That always gets me in the mood for writing. As soon as the air temperature breaks 50 degrees, if it is sunny, I am out on the patio writing. That’s really where it all takes off for me.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
Even though I have a public persona, and I really do enjoy talking to people and gain so much energy from it, I’m not an extrovert. I’m an intensely private person. I love listening to others, but I rarely share many personal details.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
Probably the best learning experience is that there is no magic bullet. I’ve read (or at least started) some terrible books that are best-sellers and read a literary genius that sold a couple hundred copies. Anyone who tells you they have the “secret” to selling 1000’s of books is lying to you. It is hard work and something you have to push every day.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
Return to Cayman came out a week or so ago, and what I think I’ve done better with this book than any of the previous ones is to begin promoting it early in the process, and to gain supporters who can help me promote it. By offering to donate a portion of the proceeds to the reef recovery effort, for example, I have a group of people who also have a vested interest in seeing the book do well.
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
Everyone always tells you to read. I agree, but my advice is to learn about everything you can. Volunteer for everything you can; you never know where it will lead you. In my professional career, if I hadn’t refinanced my car in 1993 to take a trip to Russia, I never would have been hired by the biggest diving company in California in 1998. If I hadn’t done that, I never would have gotten the chance to study diving medicine, and to move to another company in 2000 that opened numerous other doors. You never know where things will lead and if you don’t explore those avenues, just because, you will miss out.
I’ve had the same website since 2005 when I only had one book. I was optimistic. http://www.booksbyeric.com/
Where can we find your book?
Print books are available at all the online retailers, including Amazon. My ebook versions are on Kindle.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently putting the finishing touches to a novella, in a series of short stories I created, set on a fictional island in the Florida Keys. In June, I am taking on an oral history project (I also write non-fiction, documentary work), and I really want to work on a period story set in Charleston, WV in 1890 around the salt industry. It is a spin-off from a collaborative book I wrote with several other writers called River Town.
Thanks for a great interview, Eric. I wish you much success with your books, and happy traveling! Eleanor
About Eleanor Parker Sapia
Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s work as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. She is a member of PEN America and the Historical Novel Society. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.
A Decent Woman is Eleanor’s debut novel, set in turn of the century Puerto Rico. The book was selected as 2015 July Las Comadres & Friends Latino Book Club, Book of the Month. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children and she currently lives in West Virginia, where she is writing her second novel, The Island of Goats.
A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon amazon.com/-/e/B00U05ZO9M