Monday, April 5, 2021

Eric Leland Interview - Inhuman

Photo Content from Eric Leland

Eric Leland grew up in Massena, NY and entered Army basic training upon high school graduation. He was an MP in the Army for six years and reclassified to a Special Agent with the Army Criminal Investigation Division. Eric deployed to Honduras in 2002, and Iraq in 2003 and 2009 where he was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with “V” device for valor. He completed his MA in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University and has happily traded in his gun for a pen. Eric lives in Seattle with his wife


Where were you born and where do you call home? 
I grew up in Massena, NY, and I currently live outside Seattle, WA. But my wife and I never stay put very long. We move every 2-3 years or so. That part of the military life seemed to stick with us when we got out. I guess we’re still looking for a place to call home.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Receiving 5-star reviews from strangers is a really nice experience. I suppose a lot of novelists like to see their work validated by others.

What inspired you to pen your first novel? 
After reading the Red Wedding scene from A Storm of Swords, and throwing the book against the wall, I wanted to learn how GRRM played with my emotions so I could do it to others. Inhuman isn’t my first novel, but it’s the first novel I wrote after I figured out how story works.

Tell us your latest news. 
Voice actor Tim Campbell has signed on to narrate the Inhuman audiobook. Look for that sometime in July.

Can you tell us when you started INHUMAN, how that came about? 
I had finished writing my first novel around October of 2014. It was a failure on many levels, but I learned a lot. I decided I needed a more advanced education in writing if I wanted to do it right. I went and got an MA in creative writing, taking two classes at a time so I could expedite the process. In one of the classes I wrote a 20-page short story called Recon Team: Mercury. That story ended up being cut down to five pages and is now Inhuman’s prologue. Essentially, I thought it would be interesting to see what happened when a rescue team came looking for the team that disappeared in my original short story. Inhuman is the result.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel? 
My goal is to entertain readers. Nothing more. Anything straying into the realm of the didactic was ruthlessly cut. I deliberately tried to distance myself from the story, so hopefully you won’t notice me in the pages telling you what to think or feel.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating John and Brandon? 
Military readers, from Vietnam veterans to Iraq/Afghanistan have told me they have all met guys like John and Brandon during their careers.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
I think it would be fun to see Forrest Gump on the team just to see how he would narrowly escape a demon.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
I play a lot, and I mean a lot of Overwatch. I’m an okay Reinhardt.

  • 1. Inhuman’s current word count is 155,000 words. During the revision process, over 50,000 words were cut.
  • 2. The character Jaran is loosely based on my wife—born in Vietnam and fleeing her home, then growing up to become a soldier.
  • 3. The thing that happens to John at the end of chapter six; that was originally going to happen to Brandon.
  • 4. “(X) is my favorite character. Kill (them).”—Advice from my editor.
    So when you get there, don’t blame me.
  • 5. After the first draft came back from my editor, I worked on revisions for two years.
  • 6. The American Recon Teams in the book are named after U.S. states, which is historically accurate. New York was used for the primary team because that’s where I grew up. Any other team mentioned in the book was used because a friend or family member lives there.
  • 7. The original title of the book was Recon Team: Mercury, after my original short story. My thought was that if I continued with a series of these books, Recon Team New York’s survivors would form a new team called Mercury. None of my beta readers liked the title, and after I thought about it, I concluded that title didn’t really convey what the book was about. So, I changed it. But you can still catch Brandon thinking about a new name for his team from time to time.
  • 8. I wrote 50 vignettes originally meant to start off each chapter. They focused on Jaran’s ancestors tracking Erlik Khan from Mongolia, through China, and ultimately capturing him in Vietnam. They were cut because, while I thought they were cool, they really didn’t fit the tone of Inhuman. Also, they added another 50-60 pages to an already long book. For the current length, you can probably blame my love of epic fantasy.
  • 9. Jaran exists because I wanted a female on the front lines, but I also wanted to remain historically accurate, you know, despite the demons and stuff… I thought a good way to reconcile this was to have her already living in the place that would become the front line. However, in the original story Jaran was a secondary character without any POV chapters. My editor wanted to know more about her.
  • 10. Counter Recon is real.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? 
Travel to a country where you don’t speak the language and get lost. So many adventures to be had.

Best date you've ever had? 
Never been on one. My wife and I are weird, I guess. We just started hanging out and four months later we were married. But when I was living in Honduras, me and a group of friends rented some horses and rode them to the Mayan ruins at Copan. That was a good time.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go? 
I got my first job when I was 16 and worked in a record store (back when those existed) in our mall. This would’ve been 1999. That was just a great time with great people.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today? 
My first combat experience. I made some good friends that night.

What are 4 things you never leave home without? 
My beanie. My wallet. My keys. My phone.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been? 
Kosovo. The people there were so nice it was discombobulating.

First Heartbreak? 
Artax sinking in the Swamp of Sadness.

What was a time in your life when you were really scared? 
Waiting for my first review to come in for the book.

Ten Favorite Reads Ever
The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison, Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men – Cormac McCarthy, Lullaby – Chuck Palahniuk, Lost City of the Monkey God – Douglas Preston, Samedi the Deafness – Jesse Ball, Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist, ‘Salem’s Lot – Stephen King, The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie, Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer

A forgotten evil waits in Vietnam's dark jungle…

It is 1969. Somewhere over South Vietnam, Captain Brandon Doran sits aboard an unmarked aircraft on final approach to a Top Secret military base. A shadowy government operative is offering him a deal. Brandon is listening. Intently. In exchange for wiping away Brandon's tarnished military record, all Brandon will have to do is ensure the recon team, to which he is about to be assigned, follows orders. Easy enough. Or so Brandon thought.

Sergeant First Class John Nicholas has no time to be salty about the inexperienced officer sent to babysit him and his team; Recon Team Florida has gone missing near a remote village in the north. Now John, with Brandon and the mysterious "Smith" in tow, leads the elite Recon Team New York deep into North Vietnam on a rescue operation. At first, John expects heavy resistance. But intercepted radio traffic suggests something near that village has spooked even hardened NVA. And soon after New York's midnight insertion behind enemy lines, John finds out what.

Confronted in the night by a merciless demon, John reacts the way any soldier would: he shoots it. But John discovers, far too late, pulling the trigger is the worst mistake he can make.

Flung headlong into atrocity and supernatural chaos, New York's surviving members discover an unexpected ally in Jaran, a young novice in the old magic of her ancestors. She is the only defense New York has against this powerful evil. But to use her magic, she must pay a cruel price.

Now, with a ruthless NVA hunter-killer team on New York's trail, and an ancient evil lurking in the dark periphery, it dawns on this handful of survivors that escape has a brutal price. And to pay it, New York must become as inhuman as their demonic pursuer.
You can purchase Inhuman at the following link below.

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ERIC LELAND for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of Inhuman by Eric Leland.