By AK Dale
STORY CITY, Iowa – He lives in Story City.
How ironic for a one Erik Gustafson, a man who works with persons with intellectual disabilities lead meaningful lives while also teaching psychology classes at a community college.
Surely there are plenty of stories to be told from such a lifestyle.
Oh, well, one thing is for sure…Gustafson has tales to tell and thus his predominant job moonlighting as an author.
“I wanted to be a writer in high school and wrote about 20 short stories back then before I set it aside for over 20 years,” Gustafson said. “My wife saw the NaNoWriMo thing in 2010 and said I should give it a try. I did and wrote Fall Leaves and the Black Dragon during that month and have been writing like a madman ever since.
Married with two daughters, Gustafson graduated with a Master of Science in Family Psychology and when he takes time to write he does so in the quiet, but still finds time to paint landscapes with oil paints.
“That is the trick to being a writer, you gotta balance life with it,” Gustafson said. “It is challenging to find time to write, maintain a blog and market myself…and pay my bills and spend time with my family. I write mostly at night, sacrificing sleep. I have been known to take a day off of work here and there to catch up on my writing.”
Gustafson has been published by The Horror Zine and Crypto and Co. and he is to be put in print in the upcoming anthology Dangers Untold by The Horror Society.
“Most of my stories are about the family, in one way or the other,” Gustafson said. “The characters aren’t generally out there alone…somehow they are connected back to a family that is part of the plot
. The family is the basic unit of our society. Families are the fabric that bind together to form our churches, schools, and activities. A person should feel safe, warm and loved with their family. What better place to drop a horror story into?”
Once a story takes shape that is when Gustafson puts down the roots to a story he hopes to craft with a sole purpose to entertain and scare the reader.
“That’s where I dig in,” Gustafson said. “The family is a system and each person is a part of that system. Throw the system out of whack and you have drama on top of the horror. It’s a delicious combination. My stories are deep, character-driven, well-written and generally rooted in real life. Terrible and terrifying events that draw you in and stimulate your brain.”
As his career reboots and he slowly makes his way into the consciousness of horror readers all over the planet Gustafson enjoys all the good things that can come from the work.
“The most rewarding thing about writing is the feedback,” Gustafson said. “Sure I want money and want to be able to be a full-time writer, but forming relationships with other writers and fans is what keeps me going. The most unattractive aspects is the marketing and the endless hours it takes to polish a novel. It’s not exciting, but the end product is exciting.
“Still, I will consider myself a success when I have a novel on the Amazon top 20 list of paid horror fiction J That is measureable and obtainable, I hope.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION on the WORK of ERIK GUSTAFSON
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