I had just signed a contract to write my Jerusalem's Undead Trilogy. I had four novels under my belt, all pushing the envelope in my market. I was also still working full-time at FedEx Office.
Out of the blue, I got a call from my agent while on my lunch break one day. My publisher wanted me to write the novelization of the screenplay, Facing the Giants, which was a grassroots hit film. The catch: I had five weeks to write it. The carrot: I would receive six months worth of pay.
Thanks to a supportive boss, I took an extended leave from work to complete my 5th book, 280+ pages, writing 75 hours a week for the next five weeks.
The dumbest move of my career: I chose to write an overtly Christian story with a lighter mood and more pedantic style than anything I had done before, all under the same name of Eric Wilson.
I am not a market-minded person. I didn't realize I was muddying my brand, making it difficult for readers to know what to expect from me. Suddenly, fans of my darker fiction thought I had sold out. Fans of this lighter fare bought previous darker books of mine and felt blindsided by fiction which raised questions instead of offering answers.
I would spend the next fifteen years caught in this marketing nightmare of Light or Dark. It was an issue in every interview, every reader interaction. My publisher wanted to brand me as completely Light, "the Christian Nicholas Sparks." "Absolutely not," I told them. When I later wrote books meant to appeal to both groups, the stories often failed to find either.
I loved writing Facing the Giants, for creative, personal, and financial reasons. It paid for both my daughters' braces. I also loved collaborating with the Kendrick Brothers, and went on to do so for my next two books.
But I should have done it all under a pen name, creating two separate paths for my fiction. If I could go back and correct my dumbest move, I would've written my Dark fiction under Wil Ericson, and my Light fiction under Eric Wilson.
My website, WilsonWriter.com now provides signposts for both types of books. Feel free to explore one or both.
And keep your eyes open. Wil Ericson might yet appear.