Where Honesty Never Ends.
Hello and Welcome to The Review Board. Today we’d like to bring you an exclusive interview with Author J.M Erickson.
Hosting this Interview is Mini Truth.
1. In your Author Bio you mentioned that you were a Critical Incident Specialist with the Police Department and Fire Department. Could you please tell us a little bit about that position and what it entailed?
Four years after I graduated with my masters in clinical social work, I worked for a managed care company that provided short term therapy, clinical consultations and seminars, and crisis debriefing for for a number of high tech companies, corporate and industrial contracts and city municipalities. The crisis debriefing work was for first responders, primarily police and fire fighters, who had been exposed to some kind of horrific and traumatic situation or circumstance. Most often it was the client’s lieutenant, sergeant or supervisor that would send the individual to see me. Part of my job as a Critical Incident Specialist was to help the client work through the trauma either through psycho-education, short term therapy or to refer to another provider for longer term treatment. There were situations were it was required to conduct a risk assessments of dangerous to self and others which would lead to hospitalization or locked treatment. Since police and fire fighter personnel are not known for sharing feelings or talking, my role was often challenging but nonetheless rewarding.
2. In your Bio you also mention that you teach psychopathology, counseling, abnormal psychology and ethics at Cambridge College. What an interesting field to be in! Please tell us a little bit about that.
Twelve years ago I transitioned from full time upper management of a non-profit/private agency to my roots which was to provide face-to-face individual therapy. As I geared up for this return to direct clinical work, a colleague of mine asked if I might be interested in teaching graduate level courses at Cambridge College’s School of Psychology and Counseling. It took me ten seconds to saw “yes” even though I had no experience in teaching in a class room setting. At that time I had about eighteen years of clinical experiencing in recognizing, diagnosing and treating major mental illness and psychiatric conditions. Teaching graduate students about how to work with clients that might be suffering psychologically and emotionally from schizophrenia, bipolar I & II, major depression, anxiety, and other issues with dignity and respect was a natural step. As you can imagine, working with clients and teaching about people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors is a blast! While there are trends, patterns, and predictable responses, there are differences as a result of a person’s upbringing, family, socioeconomic variables, culture, class distinctions, gender, racial, sexual orientation and other diversities, intellectual abilities and a range of other factors that make every person and situation unique and interesting. No day is ever the same.
In short, “The Price: Lucifer’s Origins” is the story of a twelve year old prince who is called upon by his royal family to serve the crown and take on his duties. He would rather remain at the university planet and continue with his learning but reluctantly complies. As you can imagine, there are double crosses, betrayals and revelations abound. There is varied cast of very strong women, and old alien species called the “Xenon” and a forbidden, abandoned planet lost in the myth and legend, where the early origins of the kingdom emerged and left behind. The planet, call “Hell” for it’s harsh environment and space-time distortions, becomes the home of the reluctant prince. Here he transforms into something not seen since Hell’s earlier history when it was a vibrant world known to its human inhabitants as “Earth.” Heavy in metaphors, classical and biblical references and chalk full of moral dilemmas, this is a science fiction, action-adventure novel of good versus evil. Similar to the “Future Prometheus Series” this was a fun story that wrote itself.
4. Could you please share with us a little bit about the “Birds of Flight Series”?
Before I turned to science fiction, I wrote action-adventure. “Birds of Flight Series” takes a “what if Jason Bourne got therapy and retrieved all of his memories all at once? And once he knew everything, would he return to his post and continue his work, or would he have changed? What would happen to the people who helped him? “Albatross,” “Raven,” “Eagle” and “Falcon” are the full four novels, and “Flight of the Black Swan” is a novella. The set are best described as an action-adventure, political thriller which follows the transformation of the lead character, his adopted family and the men and women in law enforcement who are either for him or against him. Heavy in character development, solid action and metaphors, in many ways it is a fun jaunt while also speaking to the resilience of people when they are put in difficult positions.
5. Personally, I highly enjoyed “Future Prometheus: Emergence & Evolution”. I found the character of Jose Melendez fascinating. Please tell us, when/how/why did you decide that this character would have Aspergers Syndrome?
As a therapist I have been fortunate to work with an array of people suffering from many clinical and psychiatric conditions. Many clients I have worked with over the years have been trauma survivors, and suffered from mood and anxiety disorders, and developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder. While my clients have experienced disadvantages from their clinical conditions and circumstance, they have all demonstrated a will to preserver, the ability to dig deep and produce skills, talents and strengths to cope with everything from day to day events of living to battle field preparation to fighting fires to raising children. In my first book, “Albatross: Birds of Flight,” the main character suffers a significant brain injury and experiences symptoms of post trauma. With the help of his therapist and nurse, he recovers memories he would have preferred not having. Similarly, I chose a lead character with mental health barriers and put him in a bad place. Choosing Aspergers Syndrome for Jose was an easy choice and came to me relatively quickly – how could an otherwise developmental disorder like Aspergers Syndrome/autism be a good thing rather than a deficit? How could a normally debilitating condition be a strength? How would a person with barriers deal with difficult situations, very much like my clients do every day. There are so many ironies and unexpected twists and turns with people in my work that I wanted to write about it. Nearly all of my writing has this as one of many themes.
6. I was wholly enamored with the idea of a man being put into a Cryogenic Sleep to then awaken in the far future during a time when the male species is scarce. Then having a developmental disorder added to the conflict, which was captivating. I find that no matter how many outlines an author puts together, sometimes stories take on lives of their own. This makes me wonder, was this the plan all along when writing the story, or was this something that happened along the way?
The original plan was to write an interesting story about “what would happen” if the male species was somehow debilitated and eradicated. It raised a lot of questions such as what would we do to preserve the human race, what would a civilization look like, how might it evolve, and would the world in many ways be the same or would it be truly different. In regards to the main character having a developmental disorder, as mentioned above, I wanted to have what is usually considered a disability be a strength, as well as put him in the role of mentoring androids that were struggling with their emerging personalities. So with the “what if” questions and my tendency to have people with disabilities be the heroes they are, the story seemed to write itself as time went on. I wish I could say I outlined everything and had a grand vision. I really don’t have either when I write. I have the “what if” situation and the character. In short, the story took on a life of its own.
7. Random Question #1: What is your favorite take out meal?
8. Random Question #2: Shoes or sneakers and why?
When I teach, I stand all day; when I’m waiting for clients and writing notes I pace and stand, respectively. Unfortunately, I where suits that make me look like a banker. As a result I have two pairs of solid black sneakers that look like shoes. If I had an option I would wear just plain sneakers all the time for comfort. Sadly, my shoes have to look “professional.” I’m so glad I found faux shoes. Sometimes image is important.
9. Random Question #3: Are you a hard copy book person, or an eReader person and why?
I have to say that it depends. When it comes to reading fiction and stories for pleasure, I tend to be an eReader because I go back to re-read things, and I will stop one story and read another for an entirely different book. When it comes to teaching and clinical work, all my books are either paper or hard cover. I write, highlight and haul books into the classroom and the therapy office. I think it makes me feel more grounded, more secure as if it were a transitional object to tell people “I have books, so I must know what I’m doing, right?”
10. I see that a few of your books are award winners. How did it feel to receive awards on your stories?
I’m embarrassed to say that there are two things that make me very happy – a constructive reviews and book awards. I think I’m shallow or maybe there are some unresolved childhood issues still searching for approval. I’m guessing that I might be like many writers – sensitive, anxious and worried about what people think of their private thoughts made public in book form. The book awards reassure me that my work is “not crap” and that they are worth while endeavors.
Could you please share with our viewing audience how they can connect with you?
Thank you for being with us today Mr. Erickson.
Thank you very much for your interest and consideration for your Author Spotlight. I really do appreciate your questions and an opportunity to appear on The Review Board.