|Valerie Anne Faulkner
interviews Eric Wilson
Christian Fiction On-line Magazine, June, 2009
Virtually speaking, we’re heading out to his home state, Tennessee, and meeting him at the renowned Fort
Donelson. It’s located on the bank of the Cumberland River, and from everything he’s told me, it’s an
amazing place to see.
check; comfortable shoes, check; sunscreen, check.”
We hoped to get going before the scorching August sun melted us. “Did you pack the camera?”
“I packed his leash, and he’s waiting in the Jeep.”
“Let’s go!” Barely having to blink an eye, we were on our way.
Eric Wilson was born in California in 1966, raised in Oregon, and has traveled in over thirty-five countries.
He brings to his writing an international perspective and historical intrigue, as well as struggles of faith.
While earning a BA with high honors from Life Pacific College, he published nonfiction articles and served
on the editorial staff for his campus newspaper. He married his wife, Carolyn Rose, after his junior year, in
1990, and they went on to youth pastor together, run an espresso cart business, and raise two daughters,
who are both now in their teens.
After years of dreaming to be a novelist, Eric signed his first contract with WaterBrook Press, a division of
Random House, and published his first novel in 2004. Since that time, he’s written a total of ten novels, and
will soon have a million words in print.
His most recent book was based on the original screenplay of Fireproof, a grassroots hit movie. The book
spent seventeen weeks on the New York Times Best-Sellers list, has been translated into five languages, and
has 250,000 copies in print.
*Blink* We’re at the national park entrance.
We parked the Jeep, got out, and stretched. I wanted to see the graveyard; the Internet site showed all the
tombstones lined up—Americans giving their lives for what they believed in. I figured that would be the
place to solemnly “feel” history. Bill agreed and had highlighted a few things on his own “to see” list, as well.
“Bill, Mr. Wilson said he’d be wearing jeans and a Vanderbilt T-shirt. The first thing we need to do is find
“What color is his shirt?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. He didn’t mention the color . . . I should have asked. I’ve seen his
picture . . . he’s good-looking, brown hair—”
“There’s a guy in jeans.” Bill pointed toward the river.
“That’s him! He said in his e-mail, ‘I’ll be wearing black-rimmed glasses—to make me look smarter—and
faux-fashion jeans worn through with holes.’ He does look smart! C’mon, he’s waving.” I waved back as
we hiked the path to where he was standing. “Hello.”
“Hello, this is my favorite part of Fort Donelson, the fearsome look of the spiked logs, and the Cumberland
River flowing down the bank. July fourth we celebrated along these banks with hundreds of thousands who
gathered from around the state. It was hot, humid, crowded, and one of the most spectacular fireworks
displays in the nation.”
“I’m so glad you invited us. Civil War reenactments! Remnants of the past! So much American history . . .
I feel like I’ve just stepped out of the books I’ve read. What a trip! Shall I begin?”
Valerie: I love so many of your quotes. You said, “I do believe Jesus is the Answer. Which is why I’m not
afraid to wrestle with the questions. I expect my characters to do the same.” Would you give an example of
one of your questions and your fictional character who helped find the answer?
Eric: I wonder about the balance between God’s sovereignty and our free will. As an author, I am sovereign
over my story and characters, and yet I see these characters take on life of their own and do things I didn’t
plan. In the same way, I think God gives us freedom while still forming a story that is His alone. That’s a
question—and answer—I came up with through Clay Ryker’s conflicts in my book Expiration Date.
Valerie: I found this one, too. “Avoiding the dust in the corners doesn’t make the dust go away.” Please tell
me when, where, why, and how you came up with this simple yet provocative phrase?
Eric: This was one of those phrases born while letting the characters work through their issues within the
story. I wanted to deal with the fact that we as Christians are challenged to bring our sins into the light but
often sweep them under the carpet instead. It doesn’t make them go away. It makes them fester.
Valerie: You’re an innovative writer and also an avid reader. When picking out a book for yourself, what
type stories do you gravitate toward?
Eric: I read across most genres, looking for strong writing that is driven by believable characters. I want
stories that wrestle with life and its uncertainties, whether it’s a book like Lord of the Flies or Lord of
the Rings. I love stories ranging from Tosca Lee’s Havah to Mitchell Bonds’s Hero, Second Class to James
Lee Burke mysteries.
Valerie: I understand you have compassion when it comes to the underdog and feel anguish by other people’
s pain. But how do you relate to Eric Wilson’s struggles? How kindly are you toward your own feelings
when life throws you a curveball and you don’t catch it? At least not the first time!
Eric: I try to give myself a lot of grace because I need it so often. My main struggles come when I see
others get hurt. I want to strike back at their attackers, come to the rescue. I’ve faced knives in a few
different situations while standing up for women being abused, for example.
Valerie: Your parents divorced when you were a young man, I’d assume pre-author age, and now you’ve
been married almost twenty years. What have you done to ensure your marriage will survive?
Eric: Selfishness is the ultimate infection in a relationship. Whether it’s financial, sexual, emotional, I can’t
let my own self-seeking human nature override the call to love my wife as Christ loved the church—
Valerie: And how would you answer this same question for your wife? What has she done to ensure your
marriage will survive?
Eric: I don’t usually answer questions for my wife because she definitely has her own thoughts and
opinions. We’ve talked about this subject before, though, and we try to stay affectionate, to build each other
up in front of others and not tear down with our words. We let each other start fresh each day. She’s a-ma-
zing! She has to put up with a lot more than I do.
Valerie: Well, I saw your wife’s MySpace and listened to the song “I Believe in Us” by Carolyn Rose. Your
wife is certainly talented and obviously in love! By the way, I loved the song. Did she write the lyrics and/or
music, or did you?
Eric: She wrote the music and lyrics, yes. She’s a doll, an absolutely sweet and fun-loving person. I’m a
Valerie: Umm . . . Is this why you live in Nashville, Tennessee? Home of Country Music!
Eric: I’m not a country fan at all, but we did move to Nashville because of its strong creative community,
both in music and publishing. We love it here.
Valerie: You are blessed: proud husband and father. Are your daughters filled to the brim with all this
creative talent, too?
Eric: They’re creative, though not in the same ways as their parents, necessarily. One is very inventive with
clothing, hair, artwork, and so on. The other loves to express herself through song. They are unique
individuals and have been since birth. I love watching them become who they were created to be.
Valerie: After seeing your novels come alive on the big screen, have you ever considered auditioning for a
Eric: Actually, none of my novels have been brought to the big screen. If they were, I’d only want a fun
little cameo somewhere. I’m not an actor, and I’m getting older by the minute. But hey, so is everyone
reading this! I did get to write novels based on the original Kendrick Brothers screenplays, which was a lot
of fun, but I had nothing to do with the films themselves.
Valerie: Any wannabe actors, friends or family, think they would like to have a role if one of your books
were made into a movie?
Eric: My sister is an amazing actress. I wish she could have the chance to be in a movie someday. She’s
beautiful but natural, and she has a great presence and poise. She’s not afraid to throw herself emotionally
into a scene. Someday, Heidi. Someday.
Valerie: You’re a busy man. You’re a multibook author and a member of the best-seller list. This August 11,
2009, is the official release of Haunt of Jackals. You’ve been across the country for book signings and
speaking engagements nonstop. What’s next?
Eric: I’m working on new books with new questions of faith told through big concept stories. I have
nonfiction ideas I want to explore. I’m also working on a YA (young adult) idea for the mainstream market.
I’ve been writing a quarter million words a year for the past two years, and it looks like that could hold true
again next year. In this economy, I’m just waiting to see which doors open.
Valerie: Guess that’s true for all of us. You have been asked many things during your career, but is there any
one item you would like to share with your fans? Something you haven’t been asked but think they would
enjoy hearing about?
Eric: My brother and I once hiked twelve miles through the snow and got lost in the lee of a mountain. We
had such a great, scary, freezing, thrilling adventure. If we had died, I would’ve wanted my tombstone to
read: “Not all those who wander are lost”—JRR Tolkien.
Valerie: Terrific! Thank you so much, Eric.