NA: Welcome! What drew you to write in the fantasy genre?
ER: I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy and collected comic books. As a father, I would tell an ongoing fantasy story to my daughters every night before putting them to bed. At one point my oldest said, "Dad, you need to write a book so other kids can enjoy this."
NA: What is unique in the Annals of Aeliana compared to other fantasy stories?
ER: The fact that it is driven by the factual realities of angels and demons instead of vampires, werewolves, witches and wizards.
NA: As you look back on writing the books, what challenged you the most, and how did you get through it?
ER: The biggest challenge by far is having the time to write. I have a regular "day job," am a Sunday School teacher at church, lead a men's Bible Study, am an Assistant Scout Master for my son's troop, and am very involved with my three children and wife. Book 2 was written over the course of one year, getting up and writing from 4:30-6:30 am before getting ready for work.
NA: Wow, I like your dedication to writing! Which character was the hardest to write, and which was the easiest?
ER: Ryann's father is the easiest character to write since he is based on my life. He's a Naval Academy graduate, involved with the family, and has a similar personality. Ryann is a chip off the old block so he's straight forward to write and Liddy is patterned after a combination of my two girls. I'd say Terell is the most challenging because he's an African American boy with a background that I didn't grow up in. He is the most fun to create dialogue for because he has a great sense of humor.
NA: If you could be any character in your books, who would it be?
ER: Definitely Ryann. He has the direct interaction with Gabriel and gets to use all the cool gifts - the ring and especially the staff with all the powers.
NA: Can you give us a brief account of your movie adventure?
ER: There isn't a brief account lol, but it has recently changed from a studio (producer and director) with no experience and a lower budget to a very experienced producer (Jeff Maynard) and award winning director (Jenni Gold) and a budget over 4 times as large. At the same time, a script was written for book 2 and they will be filmed simultaneously. The Producer worked on "Arthur and the Invisibles" and will have a similar format of the real world in Mount Dora being filmed live and the fantasy world of Aeliana being done in animation. This will also allow for some higher profile voiceovers from major actors, musicians, and possible someone from American Idol. I am also pushing for a few of the authors from the 2008 Fantasy Fiction Tour to be voices of some of the animated characters in Aeliana.
NA: I’d love to hear that! What is your favorite spot in the town of Mt. Dora, Florida?
ER: My favorite spot in Mount Dora was the old bookstore/soda shoppe where Ryann, Liddy and Terell hang out in book 1, but sadly it went out of business. If the movie does well, I'd love to buy the location and restore it to a bookstore and coffee shop. Now, I like going down to the park, where the gazebo is and look out across the water to the lighthouse. Very picturesque and relaxing.
NA: Can you tell us three things about yourself we readers may not know?
ER: I have over 1,000 comic books from the 60's and 70's bagged and boarded, I lived in 6 different states by the time I entered the 3rd grade, and believe it or not... I can swallow my tongue!
NA: Can you tell us anything about Ryann Watters and the Belt of Truth?
ER: I've learned a lot writing the first two books and am looking forward to Belt of Truth coming together. I have been getting a lot of mail from impatient readers, but I guarantee it will be your favorite. I am waiting on the actors for the movie deal to be revealed, which will propel my agent to get a new book deal with a major publisher. I can say that with Ryann, Liddy, and Terell going through a "baptism" in Aeliana, they will come back to Mount Dora with an "extra portion of the Holy Spirit" and have a power that they will discover and be able to use in Mount Dora. Also, Drake comes back with a vengeance in book 3 along with a set of twin brothers who look like they could star for the varsity football team.
NA: Do you have future book plans or ideas?
ER: I have plans for 7 books in this series which will certainly be driven by how the movies turn out. Demand creates supply (laughs). I also have been putting together ideas for a Science Fiction series, which I am eager to begin writing.
NA: Do you have any advice to those wanting to write fantasy?
ER: Patience. Read a lot of different authors. As you think of ideas, write them down. Try to imagine yourself as the reader and what you'd be excited to read about. If it excites you, it will probably excite your readers. Always end each chapter with something left for your reader to wonder about so that they won't want to put your book down.
NA: It's been great to have you! Do you have any final words for our readers?
ER: God works things out in his own timing. Be diligent, but also patient. If you help others seeking advice or help from you, it will be returned somehow in the future and in ways you might not expect.