The Thriller Zone

On today's 181st episode of The Thriller Zone, host David Temple interviews New York Times Bestselling author Eric Rickstad about his book "Lilith."

Lilith explores the theme of school shootings and the emotional impact on the victims and their families. Mr. Rickstad discusses his background as a writer and the influences that shaped his storytelling style. He also shares his thoughts on writing series versus standalone novels and the challenges of addressing previous events in a series.

The conversation delves into the inspiration behind Lilith and the societal issues it addresses, including gun violence and the politicization of tragedies.

In this episode, Temple talks to Eric about the themes of gun violence, mental health, and the role of women in society. Rickstad explains how the character of Lilith, the first wife of Adam, serves as a metaphor for women's struggle for autonomy and the myth of violence in America.

Rickstad wraps by sharing his writing advice, emphasizing the importance of consistency and trusting the creative process.

To order your copy of Lilith, and to learn more about Rick, visit: Rickstad.com

As always, be sure to join The Thriller Zone Podcast via our website: TheThrillerZone.com, FOLLOW us on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook @thethrillerzone. You can also listen to the podcast on ALL Podcast Channels, as well as watch the show on YouTube.com/thethrillerzone

Award-winning Green Beret, Steve Stratton, is the author of the Shadow Tier Series and the novella, A Warrior's Path: the Lance Bear Wolf Story. Learn more at stevestrattonusa.com

What is The Thriller Zone?

Podcast host and thriller author David Temple gives you a front-row seat to the best thriller writers in the world. If you like thriller fiction in Books, Movies, and TV Shows, you’ll love The Thriller Zone Podcast.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (00:00.326)
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Hello and welcome to The Thriller Zone. I'm your host David Teppel and on today's 181st episode of The Thriller Zone, we welcome Eric Rickstad and his book Lilith. Folks, this is a book that you're going to be reading and thinking about and talking about for weeks to come. That's all I'm going to say. So how about you and I get into The Thriller Zone and meet Eric Rickstad. Well, let's just...

Shoot out of the gate with a big fat robust welcome to the Thriller Zone, Eric. Thank you. Thank you for having me. This book Lilith and I know I'm I apologize for being late to the game, Eric. So please forgive me. Quite all right. But your buddy, your good friend Shane Salerno sent me a copy. Yep. Holy bananas. I read this thing, I think in two sittings. Easy reaction I wanted.

That's the reaction I was going for. Godly day. I haven't had. I mean, I read a lot of books, Eric. Yeah. And I get all different kinds of reactions. But this one and we're going to drill down on it, folks. Bear with me. We're going to drill down deep in the allotted amount of time we have. But very seldom do you read a book, especially in the thriller genre, where you go, yeah, I got this. I know where he's going. I know what he's doing. And all of a sudden you're like,

well, that's a little bit different than I anticipated. Yep. And then it just keeps going and you're like, and this is a couple of things I want to drill down on is how the response has been. But first of all, you know, New York Times bestseller USA Today international bestseller. I mean, you, you clearly know what the heck you're doing. How long you've been doing this Eric? I've been doing it for quite a while. My first book was published in 2000. So a good long while.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (02:01.454)
Since I was in my late twenties. Wow. Yeah. Wow. About 20, 20 odd years. That's publishing writing since I was in third grade. Yeah. Yeah. It's writing stories, loving stories, loving to read them, loving to write them. Yeah. Did you think back at third grade? Did you, were you one of those kids who went, yeah, mom, dad, pay attention here. Cause this, this dude knows what he's going to do. Or did you.

develop into it? I didn't know that it was going to be what I was going to do as far as publishing, but I knew I would write. Yeah. And it wasn't until a little later on in college or so where, you know, I submitted some short stories and like everyone else we get failure after failure after rejection after rejection. But I had a couple hit after a while, you know, a couple magazines that said, all right, we'll take this story and

And one day, you know, I sat down to write another short story and it was 45 pages long and it was still just one scene. And I came home from the UVM computer lab to my roommate and said, I think this might be a novel. And, cause I've written 45 pages and I'm still with this woman in a, in, in her, in her trailer in Vermont and she hasn't left. So,

It's either going to be the world's longest story or a novel. And I didn't tell anyone for quite a while that I was writing a novel because that's just something I wasn't comfortable telling people. What are you up to? I'm writing a novel. Yeah, sure. Good. Good for you. Yeah. Good. Good on you. I think that's probably a healthy way to look at it, don't you? Because you set yourself up for... I apologize. Attention. No. Is it a bigger name on the other line? No. This is kind of about fishing.

Hey, that could be a bigger name on the other line. Sorry. What I was getting ready to say is the way we can set ourselves up for a disaster or complications or disappointment by going, yeah, I'm working on a novel and all of a sudden they go, yeah, well, check back to me on that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Good luck with that. Yeah. You know, publishing and writing are two separate pieces. You know, the writing is the constant that brings the...

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (04:27.374)
the pleasure and the challenges and then the publishing is its whole other beast where things go well sometimes and don't go well other times and you just keep writing. Yeah. Are you at a place now where you're going, yeah, I think I got this now. Or do you still have a little bit of that? Are they going to like this next one? You know, I think I'm at the place where I feel comfortable with how to write what I want to write. And, you know, each book, you know, they're not, I've written a...

series of three books long, the Canaan crime series, but most of them are standalones or the majority are. I tend to like to take a different tact with each, a different voice. Last couple have been first person. One was first person past tense, this was first person present. But I feel comfortable that I can write the book I want to write. Whether or not people respond the way I hope they will so far.

So good. Yeah. You're right for what makes you tick. Yeah. I want to know what, what birthed this creative juice. And what I mean by that is what is a profession or, expertise in your past that helped propel this? You know, there are cops who are great, who write great detectives, right? Or military who write great military thrillers. What in your past propelled you to be able to,

Influence your writing with your professional expertise. That's a very fancy way of saying, what'd you do before you wrote books? I was a house painter through college. I was a teacher for a while after I, I got some writing chops down and I got my first novel out. I taught at Emerson at their MFA program and some other places. I've worked as a copywriter, but my mom was a big storyteller and she loved noir.

She's a huge Hitchcock fan. Richard Widmark was her man. She had her kids late, so she was born in 30 and I wasn't born until the late 60s, so late for someone of her generation. I got immersed in all of that great 40s, 50s noir and into the 60s because of her influence. She had a dark, macabre sense of humor and she worked.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (06:53.486)
she basically raised me and my three sisters since I was about eight. She worked at a hardware store full time and you go in there and it's nothing with local storytellers. Everybody's gossiping, everybody's got a story and I just sort of absorbed that and absorbed people's reaction to you had a good storyteller in the hardware store, the place shut down. The paint section, no one got their paint mixed. Because someone says telling this great story about

you know, what were the cops doing at that place? Yeah, I had a cop that was across the street when I grew up. And he was, he was older than me, but he was a, he was a neighbor. And so I learned a little bit about his career. And then I had a friend who became surprisingly a, a criminal. And that really influenced me to write crime fiction.

because I knew his backstory and it shocked us all until we learned his real backstory. And then it made sense. Only to a point because he was the first CNN, live fugitive chase, back in like 87 or 88. wow. Yeah. So you took my brain down a short.

of memory that I absolutely adored and I can count on one hand and still have enough fingers to bowl on how many times I have run across great legit hardware stores and I'm talking about the hardwood floors, the swinging screen door, the bell over the door, ding ding ding ding, somebody's coming in.

some of my very best memories of childhood and later were at those hardware stores and just going in to order a screw or some nails and just standing around, leaning up, getting yourself a soda out of the machine and just listening to the stories, man. Yeah, yeah, yeah. From those influences, they all sort of combined and I wrote here and there professionally for different companies as a copywriter until, you know, the books really took off. The silent girls took off and allowed me to break away.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (09:09.23)
Yeah, and you know what I, I want to step back and discuss that a little bit because let's see, you got a award winning, Keenan crime series. So we got silent girls, names of dead girls and lion weight. Is that series also continuing? I haven't written in my head. It is. Okay, good. I haven't written one yet. you know, I had a couple of standalones that I did and started another part of another sheet, but those are always beckoning and those characters are.

sort of ever present and on mind. And so I will get to those eventually to continue their stories because they're waiting for me, you know? And I know sort of what they're up to and I know what's gonna happen. And I've gotta sit down and get them out there and knock them out. There's the good news and the bad, or there's a good side and a bad side to series versus standalones.

Maybe it's not even a judgment of good or bad, but I ask writers often, do you prefer stand -alones to series? The good news about series is you've already built the world, so you're duplicating parts of the world. You're just continuing the life story. Whereas stand -alones, you get to experience a whole new experience every single time. Do you have a preference? I don't have a preference. I tend to write more stand -alones. And the Silent Girls, that Canaan crime series, I didn't write it intending.

it to be a series. I wrote The Silent Girls and ended it on a huge cliffhanger that I was fine with. Just leave it there. I'm going to piss off a lot of readers and I'm going to make a lot of readers happy. Then it just sort of kept creeping in like this. There's more here and so it sort of took it on its own life.

I was able to, you could probably read any of them on their own and you'd be fine to read them as a standalone. But I do like recurring characters too. So they do have both have their pros and cons as far as what they offer you as a writer and the challenges they offer. One of the things that's a challenge with the series for me is how do I readdress what I've already written for someone just coming in? How do I, you know,

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (11:37.166)
Do a synopsis of, you know, what's come in the book before in a succinct way. That's not just parenting the first book. You know, how do I let them know this happened if they are coming in late? and so, you know, you, I read tons of series to figure out how other writers accomplish that, you know? Yeah. Yeah. Ask yourself, is it good to do a synopsis in the form of maybe a prologue or. Yeah. You know, and.

Not like it's not, but you have to feed them enough information that has taken place in previous books for them to not be entirely adrift. They have to have some anchor point. The farther along you go, maybe some of that goes away. They become kind of more standalone books that are part of a series in a way, you know? Before we dive into Lilith, are there elements inside the Canaan crime series that share?

And I know, look, Lilith is a one of a kind book. Literally. I don't think I've ever read anything even close to it. But are there things in those other books that fuel a similarity or provoke a similar headspace? I think I write a lot from a place of anger and rage, meaning that when I write about crime, I like to really examine,

what happens to the victims and how profound it can be. And I love all sorts of books and mysteries, but when I'm writing them, I want it to be more than just here's a body, let's solve the crime. And part of that probably is because of what happened to my friend and knowing some cops pretty well. I want it to have a real emotional impact.

so that if someone is a victim of a serious crime, you really feel it. So I think in that way, you know, Lilith and the Canaan crime series have that in common where hopefully you're with the victim more than and trying to get justice for them and examining certain things in the system that might not be working as well as they should. So that place of frustration or rage, which, you know, Lilith is to end.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (14:01.39)
And speaking of that, we're going to take a short break. When we come back, Eric's going to give us some of that inside scoop as to how that story came about. Why did it take a decade to get to and a lot more right after this? Stay with us.

And we're back with Eric Rickstad and the book is of course Lilith and it is a powerful, profound story, a profound commentary on a lot of world today. I want to start out of the gate with, where did I read Eric? By the way, welcome back. Thank you. Where was I reading? I want to say crime reads where the story kind of birthed. And when I read your explaining, which you're going to do for my audience of where this came from, it literally just kind of.

me back into my seat because I felt what you were feeling and the power of what's going on in the story. So without me giving anything away, I want you to be able to say what it is about and why did it take a decade to create? So yeah, it's about a mother who's a teacher. She's a single mother. She has one son who's in second grade or so.

And she teaches kindergarten and she can't get her head around the fact that we have the practice lockdowns that we had to practice for the slaughter of our children. Every, you know, as part of her job is preparing for the potential slaughter of her students and maybe her own son who's at the same school. And it started with me dropping off my daughter at.

her first kindergarten class, pre -K class in a small Vermont town and seeing this sign that said, you know, if red and light blue lights are flashing, do not enter school. And I thought, what's that about? And then, you know, I'm not naive. It occurred to me, it's about shooting. If there's someone shooting, these lights are going to go on. And then I went to go inside with her and we were locked out.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (16:10.606)
We had to be look at the CCTV camera and be buzzed in and and I'm thinking we're in a town of about 2100 people. We all know each other. The woman buzzing me and knows each other. All the parents know each other. So my writer's brain started thinking, you know.

I can see this happening in a place where it's a larger town, but sort of what we're implying too is that we think someone we know is going to do this to us. Because no one in Boston is throwing a dart at a school map and say, you know where I'll go to kill a bunch of kids today? I'll go here. I'll go to the small town in Vermont. And it just sort of blossomed from there, this rage that, how did we get here?

Yeah. They didn't get to this place and then they are victims of a school shooting and her son, you know, is gravely, gravely injured and may or may not live. And she has to suffer more in dignity of, you know, these talking heads that come on and use these sort of events as political cache and a way to profiteer and make heaps and heaps and heaps of money. We all know that the personalities, the type of people we're talking about. Yeah.

And the more I thought of it, the more I needed to write it. And it took 10 years because I didn't know how to write it at first. I wrote it many different ways. I wrote it from many different perspectives. And it's a serious subject matter, you know, like it revolves around a school shooting. I'll say, I can't write a book about that. You know, that's how do I even try, you know, and you mentioned it and it's like, you know, I don't want to read that or go there.

So it took a long time to find the right voice and the right character to enter the story. And then it took a long time to figure out how to write it and avoid cliches and give the correct amount of empathy and sensitivity to the subject without.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (18:22.478)
Exploiting it for my own benefit too, you know to shine a light on this in my and my rage that I know a lot of people are feeling so it's so funny that you use that not funny. It's powerful that you use that word because now I don't have any small children, but the fact when I was reading this that word rage really did it for me because we have sat and watched the 24 hour news channels spit out.

story after story this and we go and the one phrase that popped into my head and I'll, I'll, I'll soften it a little bit for the audience, but how in the hell did we ever get here? Right. That's the question that comes to my mind. And then I thought the fact that you have to practice in preparation for, for what you feel is the inevitable is so f up.

Yes, it is seriously messed up. And so I got to sit with that for a decade writing, you know, and we all feel it as citizens and neighbors and parents or, or people that are just part of society, you know, something happens, one of these shootings, and we all get upset and, you know, we get heightened and we get, but we go through the same narrative over and over again, and nothing gets, nothing gets done. And

kept asking me, so how, how did we get here? Where are we heading? Because it's only getting worse in the decade that I wrote this, it's gotten exponentially worse in that every time it happens now, it's just politicized. And it's how can you not agree on the fact that guns play a part of gun shootings? And that as a responsible society, yes, we have the Second Amendment. I'm a gun owner. I own seven guns. I'm a hunter. I had that most of my life.

So I have a understanding of what that is. And most of the people who are for a very strict way of looking at the second amendment are just gun fetishists as far as I'm concerned. They put them before the lives of our children and our citizens and can't get their heads around just simple, basic, practical, reasonable things we can do as a society to help curb it. We're never going to solve anything like this, but we're stuck in this.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (20:52.142)
You know, intractable situation where we don't do anything. It's only going to get worse. Yeah. And it's where's that leave my kids when they have kids, you know, everyone isn't the answer. Yeah, no. Yeah. And I was going to say a slightly tongue in cheek and I don't ever want to appear flippant in this because it's such a serious topic, but I'm going to guess I'm going on a limb here and think that you probably don't have a rack in your seven.

There's an AR -15 in there, I'm going to guess. Right. They're all hunting weapons. That's what distinguishes them too, is that there are two types of guns. In doing some research for this book and writing about it a lot, you realize there's two types of guns that are made. One for hunting and one for killing people. Those are the two types of guns.

period. Not made for anything else. That's it. You may use them for other things. You may use that gun made to kill people at the, at the sand pit or at the shooting range, but it was made to kill people. Yeah. Fast and each one as they evolve is made to kill more people faster, more efficiently, more thoroughly, more quickly. those are the two types of guns. and it's odd that those who use them for hunting.

consider, recognize what's happening and what has happened. As a hunter, if you want to hunt as a 16 year old, say you have to take a hunter safety course. It's written and it's hands on and you have to get a 90 or above on both the written and the hands on. And if you don't, you don't get to hunt, you don't get to carry that weapon. Why is it all the other weapons that are made for killing humans?

You can walk in the store, not know what end it even shoot that not know how to load it, not know where the safety is, not know what safety is by and walk out just that alone. Explain that to me. Explain that to me. I'm not at, you know, my age. I think I want to. I've always wanted to drive a motorcycle. I just go into the motorcycle dealership, you know, say I want that one and drive it off the lot. Not having any idea where.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (23:18.222)
the brakes hard, no idea how to ride a motorcycle, but well, you know, we don't want to infringe on you. So just, just take the motorcycle and Godspeed. Yeah. You know, go out into traffic with it. Godspeed. These are, you know, basic things that, that, these extremists like in the book think that somehow that's it. That's impeding on their second right amendment to just have basic safety.

Before you leave a story, do you know how to, you know how to operate this thing? Do you know how to shoot this thing? Cause it can kill you. Yeah. And it can kill other people. No, I don't. Okay. Well take it anyway. Yeah. All right. I'm, I'm smiling only because of the ludicrous nature of that, but it is ludicrous. It is ludicrous. The funny thing is, and when I read this statistic somewhere that I was researching about you and I'm going to go off on the.

quality of this book here in a second. But I thought about this is and when I heard this statistic, I went, that has to be true, right? This is true, right? A woman has never gone into a school and shot a bunch of kids. It's always a man or a kid, right? Which is true, right? As far as I'm seeing though. That's correct. If you look at the data, it's correct. It's 100 % correct.

So the simple fact that a woman has never taken a gun into school and massacre children is something to notice and to remember. And ask yourself, you know, why, why, where does the anger or, mental sickness or where does it come from that says to a young man, older man, fill in the blank man that says, no, this is, yeah, he should just do this.

That's not really a question is kind of rhetorical and the, and the point I really want to make is the fact that, and this is such a fine little line. And I want to ask you how you've been able to maneuver this. Because there's a little piece of you find yourself rooting for the woman for all the right reasons. And my personal opinion, just my opinion, but what kind of trail have you had to live on that?

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (25:42.734)
curious little slope, because I know this isn't just all, we all believe in this. There's, yeah. Yeah. And I haven't had a strong direct response from anybody yet where, you know, I've had, I've had certain, you know, seen certain, you know, readers leave, you know, reviews that there it's too political for me or whatever, but I haven't had that.

real hard reaction. Maybe, you know, it's only been out there for a little while. You know, that might be to come. But yeah, and, you know, this is a book where she decides to bring gun awareness by using gun violence and shatter myths of this country. They go back decades. And what you spoke to is, you know, it's the primary one. There's a new narrative that's been born in the last year and a half, it seems, where this is just mental health. This isn't God, it's mental health.

Incorrect. All the data shows that very few of these male shooters have a diagnosable mental illness, severe mental illness that underpins their motive. If it were mental illness, well, mental illness of that severity is an equal opportunity disease. Women suffer from those types of diseases just as much as men. Good point. They have it.

as easy access to the guns as men and these are diseases that we sort of use now or certain faction that's trying to distract from the gun argument. This is mental health and people are starting to fall for it somewhat. It's just not true. It's primarily angry men and boys with guns. And that's a real issue and we've got to be careful of saying that suddenly,

It's all just mental illness because then you explained to me how women are 50, just as likely to suffer the same exact mental illnesses that men do, you know, paranoid delusions, violent schizophrenia, you know, serious diseases that are, you know, you're hearing, I've got to do, I've got to go kill these kids. Yeah. Not one. And not one school shooter is a female and 98 point something percent of all mass shooters are male.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (28:05.998)
So there's a disconnect there and there's the fallacy and she intends to blow up all of these myths about men and violence and all of that. And mission accomplished. You know, when I hear people go, you made a reference to, yeah, I didn't know if you meant, I don't want to read that book because it's too political or I don't want to talk about the book because it's too political. Either way is.

The politicalness, if that's even a word, is the political nature that you're inferring. Any less important the fact of what's actually going on. So you're, I don't want to be political about it. Yeah. But how about if your kids are involved? Can you put your politics aside and just step up with like human nature, common sense in your heart? Right. And that's what this story is about a mother and her son.

wounded. She's wondering at the outset, how would we arrive in this place? And then it happens to her and the protocols for safety make no sense. And it's really a human emotional story about a woman who just she cannot stand this narrative anymore and worries about where it's headed and what it means. And the anger isn't just that, you know, zealot, you know, second amendment extremists necessary. It's a

all sorts of facts, the school system and, and, you know, the other systems and people just saying, I'm so angry at the shooting. I put up a meme, you know, I'll, I'll tell everybody for three days how mad I am on Twitter. And then I'll do nothing. I won't even join an organization meant to help end gun violence, like every town, you know, or those types of places where you can at least participate at that level.

You know, so she there, she, she becomes very distraught and then perhaps, you know, goes, goes, goes to a place. She, she certainly would have never been if she hadn't been victimized herself. And it's, but it's really a human story about, you know, a woman pushed to extremes. A woman pushed too far. I remember in the.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (30:25.998)
I do this thing, Eric, on occasion. I don't read anything about a particular book. Sometimes I just love the element of surprise. Matter of fact, of all the books that are over here on the wall, I would say probably more than half of them, I don't do any preliminary research before I start to read it for my guests. This was one of those. So I had no idea going in. I had an image in mind, which I'm going to share in a second, but I went, eh.

And I was reading it and that maybe it's because I'm highly intuitive. I don't know. But when the child is playing, is appearing to play hooky, I'm like, why does that foreboding foreshadowing? I go, why do I feel like something's not going to be good here? You know, because we all played hooky. We all tried to do those things. I did when he did the whole.

getting hot and then trying to fake throwing up. I did that as a kid. We all do that as anything to try to fake mom out, right? Right. Except for the fact that I guess he didn't think of how could you have thrown that up son, if you hadn't actually ever eaten anything that resembled it. Yeah. Point being was that foreboding was powerful.

But back to the not knowing anything. So I look at this, I'm like, okay. Well, it's Blackstone publishing. So I know it's going to be a certain kind of quality. And I spend way too much time talking on the show about how much I love Blackstone and the quality of their books. But I look at this, I'm like, it's black and white. And I'm like, that's clever. I can't say that I've ever seen a book quite like that. And it wasn't until I don't know how many chapters in, I went, you know, and it's, I feel kind of stupid admitting the nuance though, but.

In a world of black and white. Yeah, it was just so good. And I'm so, so glad to see you got Don Winslow, good Palomine there on the front, giving a wonderful blur. Wonderful of him to do that. Yeah. A gripping tale of love, power, courage and morality. Eric Rickstead is at his very best from the master. Another thing you did a couple of things that I love and I've read.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (32:44.558)
I think pretty much everything Don Winslow has ever read. And you, I'm not saying this is you're taking this from him. I'm just saying there's a similarity on white space and a number of places that I really, really love because it's, it's unusual. It's, it's different. It's off the beaten path. It wakens something in your subconscious that makes you look at it differently and there's more power to more white space. So I applaud you there. I'm sure you had theory of reasoning behind all that. Yep.

I did. One question I have burning in amongst all that fabulous accolades is why you didn't, entitled the chapters as chapters. There is no, there's no chapter seven. There's no number seven. It's just, you know, you're up on a new chapter. I'm just curious. Yeah. And some of them are, you know, some of the chapters are, you know, three words. So that was, you know,

something else I was writing, I didn't think about and sometimes I'll do that and then I'll go back and say, where, where should the chapters break? And, you know, sometimes I've titled chapters like old school, you know, King or something, you know, I love it. Totally appropriate for those novels and more often than not, I'll number them or, and this one there, there's a, there's just a slipperiness of time. I think that is also informs her mental state.

once she and her son suffer a school shooting early, early on in the book, 10 pages in or so, that causes her to fall into this timeless fugue state where there is no break. There's no let up for her. If your son or child is shot and gravely wounded and put in the ICU or heaven forbid killed,

time, as I imagine it, you know, when just even grieving on a much smaller level, you know, a loss of a parent or close friend or, you know, having to deal with something, you know, an illness that surprises you, you just, it does something to time and it fractures it and there's no, there's no end. There's no end to recovering from the loss of a child. There's just no, it does.

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (35:12.526)
you don't reach a point where that's over. So it just made sense to just have it keep going and going and going because for her there's no break. There's no let up. There's no chance to rest. There's no opportunity for her to breathe or be herself ever again and I wanted the reader to feel that. I really work hard to make readers

Feel things and I was like how do you know that was one way to do it to just? There's no there's no break you you don't get a break as a reader because she doesn't get a break as a character That makes so much sense that makes perfect sense and it made me think You know I've now lost both of my parents and I remember those first few weeks around both of their losses is that?

something happens to your brain where you're not keeping track of anything and you don't want to, you don't care to, you don't need to and you'll turn one day and you realize, shit, it's been like four days. I haven't even shaved or this or that or haven't even thought about it. So now that you explain it that way, it makes so much sense. And that slipperiness of time, that unending foot on the back of your head going,

you've only gotten started. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's just, for her, it's re relentless both outside stimuli and what she has to do to care for her son and what she puts herself into believing she needs to do, her own act of violence to raise awareness to gun violence. So, as we kind of make our way toward wrapped, I, I want to go back to something that.

really struck me and it's so interesting. I was reading a woman commented on one of the book chats of yours. I've followed pretty much all of them now. And she was saying something about she was raised in a very religious household, but she had never learned anything about Lilith, the first wife of Adam who had fled Eden rather than serve a man. And it made me stop. Goes all like, wait a second. I grew up in a ultra religious home myself. My dad was a preacher.

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And as I stopped out, I don't think I've ever heard of Lilith. And so then when I read that, I'm like, my God, we have something in common. And I didn't, I can't believe I didn't have any idea about that. She's just sort of crept in my consciousness, you know, along the lines of writing this along the way. For a long time, there was no presence. There was no, she wasn't part of the story at all, which we.

would have been an entirely different story. And it really wasn't until that moment in the gun shop where the mother whose real name is Elizabeth realizes this isn't just about guns. It's about men and guns. It's about men and their perceived right to violence. Why are they protecting this second amendment right so absolutely with such vigor? If there's not something there about somehow,

This isn't about my right to own a gun. This is about my right to violence as a man and the myth of violence in this country. And I sort of realized it when she realized it in that scene that, you know, and that was all just, it just came pouring out that the list of, you know, going down of, you know, Oklahoma, naming every state and who was the shooter? A man, a man, a man, a man, every single time it's a man.

And why is that? And if she gets sort of in, she's sort of religious or as a religious background, her mother was religious and she goes through that thread of, and she realizes she knows about this Lilith who was, who there's two different takes. He either was banished because she wouldn't follow Adam originally in the original Jewish texts, or she was, she left on her own, but either way, we're not going to have just some woman who thinks she can do what the hell she wants.

She's, she's got to be, you know, there to serve me and Eve is there the more she thinks about, she's just there for Adam. She's just his thing. And when she gets in trouble, it's not his fault. You know, she ate the apple. Hey, don't look at me. I didn't eat the apple. It's her fault. Well, we'll give her pain and childbirth from now on. That'll serve, you know, those sorts of things. And, and Lilith just became this, this metaphor or this.

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other persona, this sort of personality that this mother could sort of wear in the rest of the novel to sort of shield herself from, you know, the fact that she, the person really committed this crime, you know, committed this violence herself. So she kind of snuck up on me. She sneaked right up on me. Well, I don't know.

I haven't read all the books in the world. I know that seems kind of crazy. You probably have it either, but I walked away from this book at the end and such a riveting read and I caught myself thinking because it's so unusual. It's so original. And you go, imagine being Eric having created a book just like this that no one else.

that I can think of has written and won't be able to write again this way. When you're the first at something, and I'm assuming this is first, I'm not saying for sure, but when you're the first at something and you're at the front of the pack, it's such a awesome place to be. And knowing that you were there first. Anyway, I beat that little point.

I do want to ask as we start to wrap, because I ask all my guests my standard closing question, which is your best writing advice. Now you've written enough books and you've gotten enough accolades that I know, and you've been at this two decades plus, that you've got to have some pretty decent tasty insight that my readers and listeners would love to snag. Yeah, you know, I would say that despite whatever

the normal chaos is of your life, the you know, work, of course, is the big is a big one. Whatever your other responsibilities are a family, whatever to write with a consistency. Even if it's an hour a day, you know, I can sort of compare it to working out, you know, it's better to do a half hour of cardio or half hour of light weights or whatever you do get it in there each day, you know, take one day off or whatever, then it is to be like,

The Thriller Zone with David Temple (42:26.35)
Well, I haven't worked out in seven days. Now I'm going to lift way more than I'm capable of, you know? And it exercises your brain and your imagination and it fires off your subconscious. You know, I get a lot of great ideas and I'm not the only one by far. Most, most writers I know, you know, are get a lot of their great ideas when they're not writing, when they're, they're mowing the lawn and stuff, but it's, it's because you've been writing consistently. So I would say find an hour if you could do more.

as much as you can. I was working full time when I wrote The Silent Girls. I would get up at four in the morning and I would write from about 4 .30 to 6 .37. Then I would write, my wife would fall asleep at night at 10 .30, 11, and I would write from then to about one. So write regularly, as consistently as you can, I think helps rather than trying to fit in. But there are some things that I question that are

Word count, screw word count. I always say, you know, don't count the words, make the words count. Don't try to hit a certain amount of words a day. 1500, 2000, you know, there's a lot of this, if I can only, it's great if you can, but don't make the number of words you write your goal. You know, I think as we go along, we find out that man, if we wrote six perfect,

words, one perfect sentence that day. That's gold rather than, you know, 12 pages of just muck. That's to say, not to say that everything you write also contributes to writing better as you go. It's answer read as widely as you can. That's the, that's the other, but good advice. Read everything and anything. Read nonfiction, read the back of the cereal box. Read, you know, you never know. You never know what's going to show. rebel flavor in that.

I'm sitting with one of the most tired things that we hear. Where do your ideas come from? And I'm like, man, if you're just, if you're just awake, if you're walking across the room or across the park or taking a jog and you're even just awake and some ideas aren't coming through you, then maybe you should just think about something else because that's, that's, that's true. Cause there's, there's something to that particular mind and creative mind. It's not to be writing could be.

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you know, any other sort of creative pursuit vocation, you know, that that you're sort of open to it. And it's always coming, you know, like Ray Bradbury said, Gosh, I hope I hope I die with stories left to tell. You know, I'm paraphrasing Ben, Ben run out before. Yeah. I don't know what I would do. But he was in no, he didn't have to worry. No, but there's something to that that that.

Ideas swell up. They're everywhere. They're constantly everywhere. I can't, I will never write all the stories or novels that are floating around in my, there's just no way cause I'll go out the door to get the mail after and another one will, will hit me. Yeah. And there's nothing wrong with carving up into little short stories. If you just want to say, I've got a short stories. Yeah. I got an itch. I want to scratch. Yeah. Yeah. Yep. Yep.

and just get a book and just scribble on the front ideas or shorts or whatever. Because I mean, I know you've done this, I've done this, writers do this. You scribble out an idea, you stick it in a notebook, you put it away and you go, you know, if it's any good, it'll come back to me later. And if I go to pick it up and something flowers from there, then I've got this covered. And if not, no harm, no foul, because another one's gonna come in about 10 minutes, kind of like a bus down the street, you know?

Yeah, that's true. You know, and they will either stick and for me, pester me and feel, you know, okay, I'm writing this one. So it'll leave me alone almost, you know, just to see where it goes to see what becomes of it. You become fascinated with an image or this, you know, what is this trying to tell me? What am I trying to, you know, listen to here to this voice or this image that hits you?

Yeah. Well, I'm glad that Lilith kept tapping you on the shoulder and said, you know, I'm still here, Eric, just in case you're wondering, if you're afraid you can't quite get the story, just hang with me because I'm going to help you out. Yeah. And that's what happened when I arrived at the right character and the right voice. Then it's. Then it's me sort of serving, serving them the voice in the end. It becomes easier than than trying to write several different drafts that just don't work, but I had to write them.

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And I think there's a great little lesson inside that nut. There's a kernel in there that basically is encompassing everything you've already said. I had this idea, I hammered on it for a decade. I moved through different kinds of voices until it was right. And that's the other part of the write a little something every day, part of your writing advice and trust yourself and the process and the muse, whatever you want to call it.

just trust that if it's supposed to be, it will arrive and land in the place it should. Yeah, that's exactly it. Exactly. Trust the process, which is goes back to your earlier question of, you know, do you feel like you sort of have it down and you never quite feel you have it? Each one's its own challenge, but, but I trust the process. Trust that if I, you know, stay after it long enough that it will start to come to me more than me pursuing it kind of thing. And then,

that's when I really hit the stride in the writing part of it. Then I'm just there for it, which is a beautiful thing. Yeah. Cruise control, baby. You just gliding down the road. Well, as my wife always asks me as she's seeing me over in the corner reading in my chaise lounge, she goes, how'd you like the book? I said, I loved it. I said, I could not read it fast enough. So folks, I'm going to say, here's a book you're going to have to read.

have to read before the year is out. Preferably sooner. I'd like you to get on it right away because it is just that good. And if you'd like to learn more, go to rickstad .com. This has absolutely been amazing. Your story is one of the most powerful I've read this year. It's just, it's so full of so much emotion and truth and consequence and encouragement and

Kind of rings a bell to wake the hell up. Yeah. Well, I'm glad. I'm glad to hear you say that. Cause, that's, that's why I wrote it. So I appreciate that. Well, I applaud you. I applaud you big and strong. So thank you again for your time, man. So good. Appreciate it. Thanks again, Eric. What a superb book. Lilith is now folks, let's get ready for next week. I know.

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one week after another. It just doesn't stop. Next week's guest is a gal that has been on my radar for almost three years now. Now she's been on the show twice before. This will make her third visit. I'm so excited. One of my favorite guests of all time, Meg Gardner in her new book, Shadowheart. yeah, it's coming out very soon. And this book, well, I'm just going to say it's classic Meg Gardner.

Do I need to say anymore? Folks, before I wrap up today, can I just say thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of the Thriller Zone as we approach year number three. It's been a great ride and I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you for subscribing to our YouTube channel. Now enjoying a new bevy of subscribers. Very excited about that. And if you haven't yet, just go to youtube .com slash the Thriller Zone and subscribe. Be sure to hit the reminder bell.

to get alerts whenever new episodes drop. Of course, you can always drop us an email at thethrillerzoneatgmail .com. We'd love to hear from you. So until next time, I'm David Temple, your host. I'll see you for another edition of The Thriller Zone.