Interview with Eric Nierstedt

Where are you from?

I’m a lifelong resident of Garwood, NJ, also the hometown of Oscar-nominated author Tom Perotta and Big Apple Circus’s ‘Grandma the Clown,’ Barry Lubin.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing when I was thirteen. I’ve been a hugely compulsive reader all my life, and I had talked about writing, but I didn’t feel I was ready until then. Of course, I cringe now at the first story I wrote, but what author doesn’t?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Ironically, after I’d finished my first set of Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfiction. I had actually used it as a training tool for myself and my novel, by inserting my Lightrider characters in and using the established world to develop them. After I’d written about four stories building my own version of Avatar and a three hundred plus page conclusion, I felt like I could write, and was ready for a novel

What inspired you to write The Lightrider Journals book?

A lot of different sources- the works of Stephen King and Terry Brooks, The Legend of Zelda video games, the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender, various myths and religious stories, and other little nods from too many sources to count. But I think the first spark came from an anti-drug cartoon special I saw as a child. It featured many of the characters I loved coming together, and I became fascinated by the idea of a group of different people banding together for a common purpose.

How did you come up with the title?

I had wrestled with how to present the story, since my characters are supposedly ageless and hundreds of years old. I couldn’t focus on that much time, so I thought that it would be good to do it as a flashback, and the idea of one of the characters writing down their lives seemed like a perfect way to do it.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I never specifically thought of a moral, but if there is a lesson, it’s about how life changes no matter what you want, and that we all have to struggle between adapting to that new life and keeping a sense of who you are.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Some. The early scenes inside a drugstore are based on my retail experiences. And other scenes do come from watching people I know, both friend and family.

What book are you reading now?

Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King. I wasn’t sure about a sequel to the Shining, but so far, it’s working pretty well.

What are your current projects?

I’m currently writing the sequel to Lightrider, and planning out the third book in the trilogy. I really want to flesh out characters I couldn’t delve into as much the first time, and add a few more mythological and supernatural elements.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I would probably add a character index; my most common complaint is having too many characters, so I’m already making that change to my next book.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

My new work is the sequel to Lightrider. For this one, I’m having my characters separate, so that they can find and contain these mystic artifacts called Equites. I don’t want to spoil too much, but Equites is a Latin word, so if you look it up, it might give you a clue.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Connecting the scenes. When I write, I generally envision the big parts of the story, but I have to connect them all when I write. Sometimes that can be excruciating, but I usually to move on to a better-envisioned scene and then come back to it.

Who designed the covers?

The cover was designed by Derrick Fish, a graphic artist in Florida. We met over the Internet and he not only did the cover, but individual designs for each of the characters. He’s an amazing artist, with an incredible ability to come up with brilliants ideas that never even crossed my mind. Readers should check out his graphic novel, The Wellkeeper.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I would have to say Stephen King; he was the first to really show me in-depth characters and multi-leveled storylines, as well some excellent world-building. He was also the gateway to great writers like Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Always read, it’s the only way you can ever learn what not to do; you wouldn’t give someone parts and say build me an engine. Don’t let anyone tell there’s a right way to write a book, but never ignore criticism, because even Hemmingway was terrible at first. Finally, if you really want to put out a book, look at all the modern options, and do your research- getting the book out isn’t as important as getting it out with the right people behind it.