Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview With Author Erica Ferencik

  1. What inspired you to write Repeaters?  My mother was a huge inspiration for this book, but not in the way you might imagine. How can I put this? She was nuts. Not a nice person at all.

She died in 2005, but the woman had such an intense personality, a presence, life force,
that no matter how ill she got in the end, I couldn’t imagine her dead.

When my mother was alive, she used to call me every day, which was one reason I hated the phone. This was before caller ID, so I would just helplessly pick it up when it rang, my heart in my throat. At least she never copped on to the internet.

Anyway, my mother died on a Saturday.

On Sunday morning while I was in the shower, the phone rang, right at the time she usually called me. My heart sped up; my breathing grew rapid and shallow. Frozen in place, with shampoo in my hair, I just listened to the phone bleating from the other room. I had to calm myself, tell myself: she’s dead, of course it’s not her. But as if drawn to it, I stepped out of the shower, grabbed a towel, and went to the phone. I stood there dripping as I listened to the answering machine pick up, my outgoing message play, and finally, to the caller.

Whoever it was, hesitated. The person’s breathing was labored, just like my mother’s was in her last days. After a good thirty seconds, the person hung up.

My hand was shaking so hard I could barely get the phone back in its cradle. I closed my eyes and forced myself to remember signing her death certificate the day before. But I couldn’t help myself. The power of her will was so strong. She was dead, so what? She could still pick up the phone…

And I thought, if my mother could return from the dead, why not others? Why not a race of Repeaters?

  1. What is it about? Repeaters is the story of a young girl who comes back to avenge her own murder by her mother’s hand.  Here’s the back cover copy:

An invisible society lives among us. They are the daily déjà vu: the man with the dead brother's profile turning the corner a few yards ahead, the eerily familiar voice on the phone, a laugh down the hall from someone we knew and loved years ago.

They are Repeaters. Trapped in an immortality of endless reincarnation, they must learn to love in order to die a natural death.

One in particular has come back a hundred times; her hunger for love compounded by lifetimes bereft of comfort. Dr. Astra Nathanson is a beautiful, forty-year old psychiatrist who has fallen in love with her daughter Kim's fiancé, Constantin. After centuries of loneliness, Astra will stop at nothing to make him hers, including murdering her own child.

But Kim returns as Lucy, who grows into a young woman haunted by memories she can't explain. At a psychiatric ward, Lucy comes under Dr. Nathanson's care. Soon she comes to understand who she really is, and seeks to avenge her own death even as she is hunted once again.

  1. Can you give us a 150-word excerpt that should drive us to buy it? CHAPTER ONE

Spring came to the square in splashes of color, with careful rows of blood red tulips and banks of showy daffodils. On the north side of the green, a magnolia was bursting with fleshy blooms, its leaves curled like tender green fists. Tucked deep in the knotty branches, a robin sat fatly in her bed of leaves and twigs. Beneath the downy belly of the bird, inside the chalk blue egg tucked below, the nestling’s fetal heart – the size of a sunflower seed – beat hot and fierce. The tiny chick dreamed pre-bird dreams of flight and fear; its big eyes pulsed under their purplish skeins of skin; it fit closely inside its jamming shell; it was ready, moments from ready, to break free.

The robin stirred herself, flapped to the edge of the nest where she perched, preened, shook her tail feathers free of a few drops of rain. Only a man’s height beneath her, worms nudged blindly to the surface of the soil as if asking to be devoured. The bird cocked her head down at them, then back at her egg: first this way, then that. She made up her mind. With her fierce beak she jabbed at the egg, cracking it open. Yolk spilled around the tiny wet bird as her mother stabbed at it again, ripping at its hot belly. The baby bird opened its mouth once, slowly, soundlessly, before she tore out its throat.

  1. Do you have any personal experiences with reincarnation? When my brother died at age 27, it seemed I would run into him about once a week for a year. After that the sightings seemed to peter out, but in the beginning I saw him all the time.

My brother was very tall and thin, with blond hair with lots of cowlicks. He took his life in September of 1987.

On a rainy night in October of that year, I was walking through Harvard Square, and saw a man in a long coat. He had exactly my brother’s build, precisely his loping gait, his wet blond hair plastered to his head. I ran to catch up with him. He turned the corner onto Church Street, but when I got there, he was no where in sight.

Days before Christmas that year I was having dinner with friends at Redbones in Cambridge. Through all the smoke and crowds, I caught sight of a man with my brother’s profile. He even had the same distracted air; the same way of talking with his long, thin fingers.

The following spring, at a crowded party, I heard my brother’s laugh in another room. I muscled my way in there and found a short, fat man laughing my brother’s laugh. 
I knew it was wish fulfillment. That we seek as well as manifest what we desire, wherever we look, whether conscious of that seeking or not.

  1. How would you describe your writing style? Because, like Brian, I feel more important writing in the third personJ, here’s my bio:

Erica Ferencik is a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter with a BA in painting and an MA in Creative Writing from Boston University. Her work has ranged from the hilarious to the terrifying and everything in between, spanning media from a decade of standup comedy working with the likes of Louis CK and Dane Cook and performing her own work on Morning Stories for NPR, to penning critically acclaimed novels.

  1. Any advice to a struggling writer? Hmm, I’m not sure if “struggling” refers to 1) the general aches and pains of being a writer, as in: writing is hard, damnit, and I tend to distract myself doing anything rather than writing, such as laundry or cutting my cat’s toenails…OR 2) struggling to pay the bills with your art, an ageless problem…OR 3) struggling to get your work traditionally published or published in a “respected” media, such as well known ezines, newspapers and so on. A contingent struggle is whether or not to self publish…

All of which is a hell of a lot of struggling…

Regarding the psychic struggles of being a writer: just be sure you genuinely like it, and everything involved in it: including being able to deal with the isolation and the time commitment among other issues. Actually writing is evidence that you enjoy it. Learning to write well and actually producing something as long and complex as a novel is like a marathon, so you better like to RUN…

So assuming you do like to write…at least most of the time…

Never stop learning your craft, whether that’s through reading what you admire, or writing. As you read, NOTICE what grabs you and look deeper to find out what that author has done to make you feel something. In your daily life: never stop taking mental or actual notes about what is happening around you. Keep that third eye open.
Forget about inspiration. Set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. You would be AMAZED what you can accomplish. And never, ever, EVER give up.

Re: issue number 2):  Struggling to pay the bills with your art. Be realistic. It’s possible to be the next Amanda Hocking, but for every ebook millionaire there are thousands and thousands of writers who sell just a few books a year.  It’s totally okay, and in many ways preferable, to find a way to make a living that you enjoy that is completely separate from your art. It’s a big, beautiful life out there, and the more you experience it, the more you will have to write about.

Re: 3), the struggle to get traditionally published. Or I should say, the pros and cons of striving for the traditional route versus self publishing. Not only a very personal decision, but one that might change during the course of your career, and might have different applications for different projects. For example, self publishing via Kindle Singles might be a good idea if you are an essayist, short story writer, or have something with an odd length that you want to get out there right away.  But for your novel, you prefer at this stage in your life or based on what you’ve learned, to push for the traditional agent and publisher.

  1. Where do you see publishing in five years? So many of us in this “industry” would give very special body parts to know the answer to THAT question. I confess I have so much of my brain devoted to writing that I don’t pay as much attention to the publishing machine as I know I should.

But if we’re eliminating the middle men – agents, distributors – then doesn’t it all come down to marketing? And if that’s the case, doesn’t it really come down to being the master of whatever technology (such as social media) is roaring down the pike? Of course the element I’m cynically leaving out here is good writing, because I’m not convinced that’s always necessary. The gatekeeper of the future is the buying public, the same people who launched “stars” like Justin Bieber and so on. The brilliant movie “Idiocracy” comes to mind.

I think bookstores will have to rethink what they offer, selling even more coffee and hosting more events than they already do, to continue to exist. In-store print-on-demand services may become common.

Publishers will try to align more closely with the needs of authors (such as giving them a bigger cut on ebook royalties or really help with marketing) in order to stay in the game. That said, these days it feels like they are still just going for books they think will be mega sellers (which will continue of course) or signing up super successful self-pubbed writers to piggyback on their success.

For more information, please consult:


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©


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