NY Times bestselling author, Eric Jerome Dickey answers 5 questions
Eric Jerome Dickey. Antigua, circa 2006.
Eric Jerome Dickey, an honourary Caribbean man, has never forgotten his time spent in Barbados.
And one his biggest fans, a Loop journalist got the opportunity to meet him and interview him.
Recently, Dionne Baptiste had the opportunity to enjoy a virtual tête-à-tête with the former aerospace software programmer turned New York Times bestselling author.
Here are his responses to questions about his journey as an author and titbits of his creative process.
- You're a New York Times bestselling author of more than 25 books, which part of the process do you most enjoy?
EJD: I actually enjoy the part that no one sees. The actual being creative, looking at the blank sheet, coming up with characters and plots, just that whole creative process… the part that if someone is reading it while I’m working on it, they have no idea what it’s about. They don’t know what direction I’m going in. I call that part the lady without the makeup and I don’t mean that in a misogynistic way. I’m just saying it hasn’t been dressed up yet and presented to the public. That’s the best part of it. I mean you start with this thing, this idea and at some point it just all comes together and at some point it’s like wow, I’m on the last page!
- On average how long does the entire process take, from conceptualisation to the final full stop on the last page?
EJD: I’d say between six and eight months working full-time. Writing a novel is not always just sitting down and cranking out new pages. Some days when I get to that first 100, I will stop and I’ll go back and read every page of the first 100 make sure I like the direction I’m going, the characters, I move stuff around… every day you go to work can be unique so I’ve never felt like I’m doing the same thing over and over again. When you’re creating characters it’s kinda like creating them from the inside out, not superficially.
- Of all the books that you’ve written, all the characters you’ve thought up and developed, which is your favourite?
EJD: Jesus! You know I sometimes think I have a favourite character then I’ll pick up a different book and I’m like, no I like this guy too. It’s almost like a parent… which one of your children do you like the best? They all have different personalities, you like them for what they are, you like them for being different. I would definitely say I could do a lot more with Gideon and for me personally, you know the travel, the exploration the jumping into different cultures and I would definitely put A Wanted Woman as an extension of the Gideon universe. Being in Trinidad and Barbados, creating the LKs and just sort of dropping it on top of what already exists.
- A number of your books are set in the Caribbean, what do you love most about the region?
EJD: Every island is different but I’ll definitely say that the Bahamas are the most American islands, there was just a lot of familiarity about it. Now I got to Trinidad and it was a whole different world, I love Trinidad. I got there and learned about the food, the bake and shark, then there’s the culture, the people, running around the Queens Park Savannah, hanging out with Nigel and the crew. Barbados was different, when you jump to another island there’s just a shift in culture but you know what? That’ll be no different from you coming here (United States) and moving through the States. I think I stayed in Barbados the longest and did most of A Wanted Woman when I was there. I spent days driving around in the heat, trying to figure out how I wanted this chase scene to go… Oh and Antigua, I had a great time in Antigua I stayed at the Yacht Club for a couple months. I just felt so relaxed, even while I was writing.
- What’s one thing many people may not know about career writing?
EJD: A huge part of writing is learning and exploration. I love learning so for every book I’ve written, I’ve stretched myself to learn something new. Maybe that’s why I create characters that I have nothing in common with. It makes me go into their world, research their world, talk to other people and find a representative from their world to see how much I got right, I adjust it accordingly. A lot of places I’ve been to, I considered myself to be living there. I would stay places 4,5 or 6 months, I mean sometimes I’m there so long I’ve got a grocery store, I’ve got a place I get my laundry done, I got places I go to eat where I’m a regular and I’m there so long that I’m passing tourists on the road and giving them directions.
Eric Jerome Dickey actually played 21 questions with Loop Caribbean. See the full interview here - 21 questions with NY Times bestselling author, Eric Jerome Dickey