Eric Dalen is the author of The Fear Of The Dark, a suspense novel, and the novels Confusion and Distortion, a mystery series. Fear and Confusion have been previously released as audio books by Books In Motion. All three novels are available as e-books on Amazon.
He is also a freelance writer, editor, critiquer (is that a word?) and a working ghostwriter. Oh yeah, and he’s “The Writing Freak.”
Eric lives in Southern California with his wife Isabella.
That’s the generic version.
And Now . . .
The Official, Authorized, Pasteurized, Homogenized, Somewhat Gelatinized Eric Dalen Biography
Or: Making It Up As I Go Along
Sponsored by Fruit of the Loom.*
Because every guy likes to have the word “Fruit” on his underwear.
My Life As A Ghost, Part 1
I was born in Stockholm, Sweden, so they tell me, but I only remember growing up in Southern California. It was a perfectly bland childhood with perfectly normal bland parents. I was an only child, and some might say that means “lonely” child, and I won’t disagree. More about that in a moment.
Dad worked as a programmer for an insurance company — this was in the days when computers took up a whole room and they used cards with holes in them and reels of recording tape. Mom worked at various jobs, mostly as a secretary. I’m sure callers were charmed by her quirky Swedish accent.
My folks decided to become American citizens when I was ten, and they asked me if I wanted to be one too. I already thought I was. After all, I’d lived here all my life as far as I was concerned, and didn’t have the accent to prove otherwise. But I absolutely wanted to be a “real” American, and that’s what happened.
In 6th grade, I’d made friends with a cool group of guys. By junior high things had changed. I suspect that the hormones had kicked in and “cool” had turned to “mean.” Either the “mean” hormones had skipped me, or my hormones weren’t yet ready to kick into mean yet. Either way, I withdrew. I remember thinking very clearly if this is how friends treated me, I didn’t need friends. It also didn’t help that I wore glasses and braces, had bad acne and weird hair. All I needed was a lisp and crossed-eyes to become the ultimate pick-on victim.
I really wasn’t a victim. I just wasn’t equipped to deal with the freaks who used to be my human friends. I retreated into reading and, ultimately, writing. I spent breaks in the school library, and at home kept to myself, reading, writing and getting into music. (This was the 70’s, not a bad time to start a musical discovery.)
Junior high transitioned into high school, and I perfected the art of being a ghost. I can be pretty certain that not one teacher or fellow student remembers me. I do know that when the 10th (and 20th . . . and soon 30th) high school reunion was being organized, my name wasn’t on the list. No letter, no phone call. (Insert sappy violin music here.) But don’t cry for me, Argentina — I wouldn’t have gone if I’d gotten one.
High school did bring about one positive (besides that whole education thing): I met a young lady named Isabella, who charmed the socks off me. I like to say we became high school sweethearts, which I guess is technically true, though she went to another school — my alma mater’s rival. Not that I cared.
We married too young and struggled mightily — a story that scads of other couples can relate to — but I was crazy for her, and she for me, and somehow we made it work. Between the two of us, we held down dozens of jobs. Here’s a short list of my experience: A fast food cook at no less than three establishments . . . a hardware salesman at a major department store . . . a stereo salesman . . . working at another department store’s warehouse putting price tags on shoes . . . a driver for an electrical contractor . . . the manager for an industrial equipment distributor (I got the title “manager” because I was the only employee at that branch) . . . customer service for an industrial manufacturer . . . order desk for one of their competitors . . . and on . . . and on . . .
Izzie’s list is nearly as unimpressive, though less erratic. She basically stuck with one career.
Through all this, I tried to write. Most of it is now long gone, lost at some point along the way since A) it was in the days before the affordable personal computer, and B) it wasn’t very good. None of it was published, nor should it have been.
By the early 90’s, I came up with the idea for a novel called The Fear Of The Dark, a “stand-alone” suspense novel about a guy accused of killing his parents. It bore no resemblance to anything in my real life, which I’m sure my folks are grateful for. But it was a fun novel.
Then came Confusion, a complex murder mystery that I literally made up as I went along. Soon, I had about a dozen characters and roughly six plot-lines all somehow intertwined . . . and I have no idea how I kept it all straight. I don’t recommend this for beginners. At least the titled fit.
In 1998, my agent. I half-jokingly said I’d be his client. He said okay, and submitted The Fear Of The Dark around the publishing houses of New York. Very nice rejection letters ensued, but rejections nevertheless. Of course I was disheartened.
In 1999, my agent was able to get an offer from Books In Motion to release The Fear Of The Dark on unabridged audio. I was very happy that, after its release, it sold very well, even making the B.I.M. best seller list — #2 for one month, and #6 for the year.
Still, as pleased as I was, I wanted more. I wanted more.
One day, my agent called and said: “How badly do you want to be a full-time writer?”
“That’s my dream,” I said.
“No, stop dreaming. What are you willing to do? How far are you willing to go? . . . If you want to be a writer, to earn a living as a writer, you need to work as a writer. You should be willing to do anything to become the writer you want to be — not just blindly sending off your Great American Novel to some faceless name in New York and then be disappointed when they say ‘No thank you.'”
His point was clear. Work as a writer, not just be one.
Of course, he had a card up his sleeve.
“I’ve been asked if I know anyone interested in ghostwriting.”
And so began The Writing Freak.
My Life As A Ghost, Part 2
This part is coming soon . . . I haven’t finished writing it yet, if you know what I mean.
* Just kidding about the sponsorship.