Older than yesterday; younger than tomorrow.
Where do you currently live?
Tell us a little bit about your life.
I was born and grew up in the Wirral, Cheshire, UK, shortly after the demise of the local dinosaur population. I have an IQ somewhat above average and found myself writing Operating Systems for large mainframe computers at 19 years old. Eventually I ended up specialising in Information Technology Security and Cyberwarfare. I’ve had wide contact with various Intelligence Agencies as a result of the latter. Almost been killed three times, had hidden microphones placed in my room, been followed, threatened and attacked, etc.; all the good things that go with the job.
My work had me moving outside the UK over thirty years ago. I’ve travelled too much, mainly on business (when the crew of an airline address you by name, without having to look at the passenger list, because they’ve seen you that often – that’s too much!). I speak a few languages, although lack of practice is their worst enemy. I’m totally fluent in Spanish, which I’ve been speaking since I was 11; that’s really why I moved from the UK – no one understood what I was saying!
I have been an active martial artist for all my life. I’ve studied over 26 martial arts, several self-defence systems and hold black belts in 14 different ones. I prefer traditional warring arts, not the competition-oriented sort. My martial skills have helped me stay alive, on more than one occasion.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing as a teenager. Really haven’t stopped since then, but certainly slowed down a little due to work commitments. I have also written a large number of articles and papers about my IT work, which have been published in more than half a dozen countries. I have a huge stack of notebooks with ideas for novels, so I won’t be running out of material for the next 150 years or so.
What was your very first story about?
I started writing short stories, mainly spy tales and sci-fi. My first novel was a spy story.
Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
My first novel. It lives in solitary confinement, never to see the light of day, in a box of typewriter paper.
Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
Yes - Next question. In all my novels I draw upon personal experience to a greater or lesser degree – names are changed to protect the innocent, and the covert, of course.
Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
I was reading at age 4, so my influences have been many. I read all the classic adventure tales I could find (everything from Jane Austen through Robert Louis Stevenson, Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw, Fennimore-Cooper, Jack London, Ian Fleming, John Gardner, to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells) in my teen years. One that perhaps stands out, for the mastery with which he wrapped up incisive social critiques in intriguing tales, is Charles Dickens. More recently I recognise influences from earlier Gerald Seymour, Stephen Leather, and Nelson DeMille. I particularly admire the humour of the latter and the way he weaves it into great thrillers.
What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
My education was strange. Due to my Dad’s job, we had to move every couple of years. That meant new schools, friends, etc. This brought about huge challenges (like having to learn 3 years of French in six months, whilst studying fourth year French). Some IQ tests I was given brought me to the attention of the IT community and I ended up abandoning my studies to become a Geologist, to work with computers in the early ‘70s (that’s pre-PCs, Internet, mobile ‘phones – remember what I said about dinosaurs?)
How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
It varies. It took me three years to research ‘2012’ – I had to touch upon Egyptology, Quantum Mechanics, Geomorphology, wave dynamics amongst other subjects. Most of that appears only superficially in the novel, though. With ‘Full Disclosure’ it was easier as it’s a subject I’ve always had an interest in; I spent a little more than 12 months picking peoples’ brains for that one. The next novel ‘The Cull’, was researched in six months – does this mean I’m getting better at it?
Who is your favorite literary character?
I don’t have a clear favourite. I like the Alex Cross character from Patterson’s novels, and John Corey from Nelson DeMille’s thrillers. Gerald Seymour has a gift of crafting memorable personas which I admire, although of late, I feel this has been getting in the way of telling the tale itself.
Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
Whoever I’m writing about at the time. With ‘2012’ it was burnt-out John Grey; in ‘Full Disclosure’ it was psychopathic assassin Anson Moore; and now it’s Enrique Casanova, the ‘vampire’ from ‘The Cull’. I try to ‘live’ with my protagonists, to see how they react to stuff outside the scope of the novel, as this gives me a greater feeling for how to write about them.
If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
‘Tip of the Iceberg’ without a doubt. It’s never going to happen though.
Tell us about your featured book.
‘Full Disclosure’ is a topical thriller about secrets, the people who keep them, and those who are not in-the-know. The tale kicks off with an attempt on the life of the US President, a means to stop him learning a great secret. This fails and drives him into taking extreme measures, not only to reveal the secret publically, but to eliminate those who have kept it for over sixty years.
The subject matter, outside the scope of the novel, is very real – it’s an unbelievably complex issue with far reaching consequences. Although some superb non-fiction analyses have been written about the issue, this is the first time it has been dramatized in a novel.
Why did you write that?
I believe that often ‘political’ decisions, especially important ones, are made based upon the flimsiest of, often out-dated, reasoning, which does not reflect current paradigms. The trap of non-evolved thinking conditions more than we would like to believe. Additionally Mankind has always been obsessed with secrets; knowing more than your neighbour. Whilst some secrets are inevitable and necessary, others have long passed their due date.
Is there anything special you would like your potential readers to know?
After they have read ‘Full Disclosure’, been entertained by my take on the matter, I’d like them to spend a little time reading about the real Disclosure issues. When the book is launched in May, I’ll put up some links on my web where readers can start their search.
What is your favorite season of the year, and what makes it so?
I hate the cold - lots of bad memories associated with it. So it’s got to be any time except Winter (in the northern hemisphere).
When you think of the word “Writer” what comes to mind?
A strange figure, living adventures in his head, trying to bring others into them through words on a page. A stubborn, quasi-human creature who doesn’t look at things (including you) as ‘normal’ folk would – an obsessive observer!
If you could pick one thing about yourself that would be passed onto your (imaginary/actual) child, what would it be?
My curiosity about all things – ‘don’t go to bed each day without learning something new’ has been a motto for many, many years.
How about one thing about yourself that you absolutely wouldn’t want passed on?
If you had to live in another time period, which one would you choose?
Two hundred years from now! I’d be an explorer, with somewhere to go (more travel!). If it had to be from the past, maybe the Old West in the mid to late 1800’s.
Name one movie that always has a huge effect on you. Why do you think that is?
I’m a great fan of the movies. The film that always makes me react the same way, no matter how many times I’ve seen it is “Young Frankenstein” – it’s hilarious, and bring about loads of pleasant memories.
What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to try, but never have?
What is your favorite thing to do when you have a day to yourself?
Read or watch a movie. If I take a long walk, I inevitably start working on a novel mentally as I go, so that’s not really a day off.
When were you most scared in your life, and why?
It’s a toss-up between something that happened and something that almost did. The latter is the moment I learnt that an aircraft I was supposed to be on had crashed, killing all on board, and the former is a walk I had to do in the African savannah, surrounded, literally, by a pride of over 20 lions - those fifty yards seemed to take forever. In both cases, my life was in the hands of others, nothing I could do would have changed the outcome.
What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
A happy smile.
First thing you’d do if you were handed a million dollars?
Find five people who needed a helping hand, and make their dreams come true.
You’ve been given the opportunity to give a televised speech which will be broadcast on all networks, what do you speak about?
The need to recover our humanity and start caring for each other again.
What was/is your favorite thing about your childhood home?
Which home? There were so many. Maybe, being allowed to steal my Dad’s typewriter (an old Underwood sit-up-and-beg job) and write tales of adventure and mayhem.
What do you most want out of your life? Your ultimate ambition, as it were.
To find peace, with myself above all.
What inspires you?
Curiosity, pushing back the veil, and the love of a beautiful woman.
Our special thanks to Eric for taking the time to be with us. Check out the book trailer below, and visit his website for more information about this exciting upcoming release: ericjgates.com