Erik Therme on his evolving career and his latest novel, “Roam”

"...criticism is a good reminder (for me) to also inject them with decency and give readers someone to root for..."

I last interviewed Erik Therme to discuss his books, Mortom and Resthaven. Now, a year later, I was able to interview Therme about his new novel, Roam. (Basically, this is the “Same Time, Next Year” of interviews.) Centering on a young man who picks up a young woman stranded on the highway with a troubled past, Roam is the perfect book for those who love suspense stories.

To learn more about Therme check out his homepage, like him on facebook, and follow him on twitter at @ErikTherme.

Nicholas Yanes: When we last talked, we discussed your books Mortom and Resthaven. So, how’s life been going since then? Any nasty paper cuts?

Erik Therme: No paper cuts, but life has definitely left its mark. My oldest daughter is gearing up to leave for college, which means approximately 387 tasks need to happen over the next few months. Our weekends revolve around our youngest daughter’s volleyball tournaments, and I’ve spent what precious free time I do have endlessly promoting my third novel, Roam. Methinks it’s time for a vacation!

Yanes: On a more serious note, how do you think you’ve improved as professional writer? Specifically, what have you learned that has helped you market your books better?

Therme: Each book brings new challenges, which (hopefully) hone my writing skills and keeps my writing fresh. I’ve also stepped up my marketing game by adding two new tools to my arsenal: A Facebook author page and an official mailing list. My goal this year is to expand my fan base before releasing my next novel.

Yanes: From the feedback you received on Resthaven, how do you feel you’ve improved as a writer?

Therme: I read all my reviews (for better or worse), and one of the reoccurring criticisms is that my characters are often borderline unlikable. That’s never my intent, but I try to stay true to my characters’ motivations, and often times the story dictates that they are volatile, immature, and selfish. That said, the criticism is a good reminder (for me) to also inject them with decency and give readers someone to root for. Hopefully I will do a better job of balancing that dynamic in future projects.

Yanes: Your current book is Roam. What was the inspiration for this story?

Therme: The original draft of Roam was conceived many years ago and revolved around a boy who befriends an old man working at a sketchy hotel. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with the second half of the story, so I kept the kid (Scotty) and the hotel, and I worked backward to create a story from there. Roam is easily my favorite of my three books and arguably the most accomplished.

Yanes: The two main characters are Kevin and Sarah. How did you go about shaping these characters and determining their emotional arcs?

Therme: Kevin is based on a high school friend who wasn’t raised in the best of households. I always felt bad for his situation, and I envisioned him one day up and leaving town without telling anyone. The interesting twist was that he had a positive outlook on life, and he was always willing to help others. Sarah’s character was inspired by my teenage years of angst and insecurities. She’s reactionary, struggles with individuality, and feels helpless to change her circumstances. Her journey is a classic coming-of-age story, which provides the framework for the book.

Yanes: What are some of the Iowa landmarks that you included or alluded to in Roam? You dedicated Roam to people in Parnell. How did this small Iowa town influence this book?

Therme: Roam opens on Kuennen Road, which is modeled after Black Diamond Road—a long stretch of highway on the outskirts of Iowa City. Some of my best friends lived in Parnell (years ago), and I spent many weekends driving the road while letting my imagination run amuck. It was only natural to include it in a story at some point. The hotel is based on one in a neighboring town, where one of said Parnell friends worked the night shift.

Yanes:  Given that much of this novel centers on people driving, what is your go to music when it is just you, your car, and the road?

Therme: I’m all over the place when it comes to music. I’ll happily pop in some System Of A Down, then twenty minutes later shift to Pearl Jam or even a musical like Rent.

Yanes: When people finish reading Roam, what feeling do you hope they leave with?

Therme: I never try to get too philosophical in my writing—I just try to tell a good story that people will enjoy and remember.

Yanes: Finally, what are some projects you are working on that fans can look forward to?

Therme: I’m halfway through a fourth book about a father searching for his missing daughter, who might—or might not—be kidnapped. I’m also putting the finishing touching on a novella entitled Kat, which will only be available to my mailing list subscribers. Readers can join here: http://eepurl.com/cD1F8L

Remember, to learn more about Therme check out his homepage, like him on facebook, and follow him on twitter at @ErikTherme.

And remember to follow me on twitter @NicholasYanes, and to follow Scifipulse on twitter at @SciFiPulse and on facebook.

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