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Author Interview

ErikGustafson

I spent 20 years serving in the United States Air Force, and have lived all over the world, including Iceland, Germany, and in a tent for a year in Saudi Arabia. Always an artist at heart, I produced many paintings during my adventures. After my service, I settled down with my family (wife, two great daughters, 2 cats and a little white fluff dog) in small town Iowa, where I love to volunteer at the antique carousel. Now, I help people with intellectual disabilities to reach their potential and teach psychology classes at a local college. I switched from a paint brush to a pen and I am now a horror writer, by night. I am working on my third novel. I have had short stories published by Visionary Press, The Horror Zine, Crypto and Co., and several horror anthologies.

Story: My Friend, the Dark

Interview

Each week authors will be given a new question to answer which will lend additional insight into their story and writing process. Do you have a question you'd like to see the authors answer? Tweet it to @aNextAuthor!

Q:
What is the best writing advice you've ever heard?
A:
Someone told me to write what you know. Someone else told me to write what I can imagine. Or research. I like that idea much better.
Q:
When you start a new story do you prepare an outline in advance or do you just jump right in?
A:
I write down all the weird, twisted little bits of nonsense in my dreams and go from there. I do like to start with a simple outline, but never stay chained to it. Things chained up tend to rot and die.
Q:
How do you deal with writing criticism, apart from just ignoring it?
A:
As long as the criticism is constructive, bring it on! That's how I learn. I grow as a writer from each person who takes the time to offer help.
Q:
America's Next Author has been running for almost 8 weeks. If you could re-submit now, would you change anything about your story?
A:
My writing is always evolving with every story I write and from all the feedback I receive from readers, so yeah things would change. Darker moods, deeper characters. And clean up a few things here and there!

Reviews

debbymck

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I've always been afraid of things that go bump in the dark. Easy, fast-paced read. Scary stuff.

J.R. Verwey

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Good story Erik, right down my alley. I enjoy a good adult story. I love an ending like this one. If you get a chance read my story "Harbinger" and leave a review.

Deon

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Very well written Erik! Loved it!

Gretchen Steen

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Not a story to read 'in the dark'...Masterfully done, the suspense carries through to the unexpected ending. Attention to detail makes this story very visual and effective. Great job Erik, I enjoyed it (even with the bats ;) )

Margaret Alice

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Lukas' transformation was riveting. Your story not only drew from fear of dark enclosed spaces, but also used the element of fear of losing control of yourself. Could you check out my story, "The Fate Continuum?" Good luck!

Dea

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Cool and creepy story. Love the set-up. Many of us have a 'thing' about basements--well after reading this it is certainly not going to make the fear any better!

sls

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Very well written. CREEPY!! No my normal genre of reading but it still kept me to keep reading!

Christine Sutton

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Very creepy read! I enjoyed it, and I know that others will, too! Loved the interactions between the friends, and the ending made me wince. :) I loved it!!

L. Lane

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Very creepy. I wish the motivation behind Lukas' sudden homicidal behavior had been teased out a little better, as the shift seemed a bit abrupt and jarring, but overall it was a good read.

Busyfingers

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Spooky stuff! I didn't much care for the way it progressed, but that's just due to my personal preferences and doesn't in any way reflect the quality of writing. A few spelling and punctuation errors, and some tense mix-ups: "He drank way too much the night before" should be "He had drunk too much the night before. Great storytelling!"

Paul D. Dail

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Agree with many comments here. Definitely creepy. "All his friends had split before he woke up without so much as picking up a single bottle cap."- I think I've hosted (or at least been to) this same party :)

coty hintz

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The story line is fantastic, like the way the author incorporates the main characters' paranoia into his surroundings and basing it off past events!

Casey

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Very creepy story. I like how vivid it is and it feels like I am a part of the story. Great job!

Lisa Rose

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Lukas's descent into the dark is eerie. We are all scared of the hand that reaches out to grab our ankle. Could maybe use a little work on punctuation. But... very good. If you have the time, please read my story, 'Drift Away' and leave a review to let me know if you like it.

Ababuo

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Another great story by Erik Gustafson. Erik knows how to turn an ordinary thing into your worst nightmares. His words create such vivid imagery in your mind that you can't help but be scared. I will now think of his story whenever I see stairs descending into a dark basement.

Dane Hatchell

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Eric Gustafson has written another twisted tale to tickle the dark side in all of us. I especially enjoyed the ending. It reached out and grabbed me. :)

Bruce M

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Quite a ride! Excellent, Eric!

My Write Side SAM

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This story is chilling. Erik takes a journey into crazy that few dare to go, and it works. By the time I reached the end of the story, I was looking over my shoulder.

Mark Tompkins

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Nica and Spooky, Eric. Good job!

jezri1

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Very creepy and disturbing. The flahsback scene with hsi brother and the crib was really frightening.

Ramon

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This story had potential. But it is written in such an elementary style that it was (I hate to say it) quite difficult to get through. This author needs to study the craft a bit more. The imagination is there, I have no doubt. However, you need to learn how to convey that in the written word in a way that keeps your reader interested. This story was literally all telling and no showing. The pacing was poor and there was a lack of continuity. You spent time heavily describing details that did not move the story forward or even have much relevance. And finally, you get conveying (by telling not showing) the MC's emotions when they didn't really seem to fit the situation. Paragraph two - Lucas feared the dark more than anything. WHY?

Sherrill

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Great story - gave me chills. I hope you evolve this further!

lachelle redd

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CREEPY!!!! I loved it, reminded me of The Shining when Lukas lost his marbles. Loved it. Thanks for the scream.

Pierre

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Noises in walls and the fear of things that might be behind them are always good for a thrill.

Jimmy Pudge

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30-year-old Lukas is excited about poker night. He's hosting it at his house tonight. But a noise that a friend soon determines to be from a bat in a basement soo turns into something much darker than Lukas could have imagined.

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DECEMBER 18th 2012
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America's Next Author is the first social writing contest. Friends, family, fans and publishing industry experts will read authors' submissions and nominate their favorite to be America's next major author. Everyone can participate!