"I write because it gives me great satisfaction to create a new world of adventure with interesting characters, challenging situations and heartfelt lessons. I've played so many parts over the years as an actor. In a sense, through writing, I play every role and have a deeper creative experience. It's not easy. Every author has a process."

The Process: Research! Travel! The Cave!

Research

" When I get an idea for a story and its main characters, I first let it sort of cook in my brain for a while. Then I begin to flesh things out, build the story and do a lot of research. Actually, the research never ends! I read articles and books, look at maps and charts. You want to be accurate and what you learn becomes the world your main characters will live in. Who knows where the digging may lead? I think it's good to be open to all kinds of interesting facts you discover along the way while researching for a historical fiction novel because when you find a real nugget of information, a person in history, something you never expected, your story can be that much richer. So, research!"

Travel

Eric loves to take his dog Joey on trips. For The Last Ride of Caleb O'Toole, he packed up his car and they traveled along the Oregon Trail, starting out in Kansas and ending up in Montana. "I love to travel as part of my research. Spending time along The Oregon Trail gave me a better sense the vast space. I sat on rocks and wrote by rivers. I wandered through the thick forests of the Bitterroot. I tried to picture herds of buffalo, tornadoes and how the pioneers survived starvation, outlaws, or hostile enemies. I also had diaries and accounts from my ancestors who came across on the trail in the 1800s. While writing The Secret Mission of William TuckI walked the battlefield in Yorktown, visited Williamsburg, and talked with historians. I took pictures and tried to imagine what it must have been like during the Revolutionary War for a soldier or drummer boy.

Building The Man Cave

"In my writing room, or cave as I call it, I tack up on the wall all sorts of maps, photos, articles, anything that will help me. It becomes a cocoon, my new world where I can sit with my computer and write, think, research or plain torture myself over the book I am creating. I can look out the window and see hawks circling in the sky. Once in a while I'll hear a coyote howl. Joey sometimes brings me a toy and settles in under foot. Frankie, my curious cat, will often try to help by jumping onto the desk and walking across the keyboard. Big help! I know when I am in my cave creative things will happen. At times, Joey and I will take a break and go for a walk, or sit outside by the big tree stump. Some days are slow and frustrating and barely a word is written. Other days things flow like a raging river! I just tell myself to keep at it! "