Welcome, today we are talking with E.R. Yatscoff! I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy writing schedule to answer a few questions. First, let’s delve into who you are. Some of the questions may be untraditional but you’d be surprised at what readers connect to, and sometimes the simplest ‘I can relate to that’ grabs their interest where nothing else can.
Can you share a little something about E.R. Yatscoff that’s not mentioned in your bio on your website?
My dependency on my Writer’s Group. It’s almost an addiction, as rarely do I miss a monthly meeting. There are usually 4-5 members and I value their critiques. I’m almost afraid to go it alone. I wouldn’t be half the writer without them.
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
When I read a very poor book to my son when he was about 7 years old. I knew I could do better. Things I did in my childhood were outrageous and wild. Weaving them into my MG stories was the challenge.
How long have you been writing?
30 years. I started late
What have you found most challenging about it?
Fashioning the words to describe the world that I want to project to see the picture in my mind; its colors and smells. The oddball characters.
What does writing do for you? Is it fun, cathartic, do you get emotional?
I do get excited, especially the action scenes. However, when I do write finally them I have to use super slo-mo.
Describe what your writing routine looks like. Are you disciplined with a strict schedule or do you have to be in the mood?
I do marketing a few times a week and have been successful getting one chapter a month to submit to my writers group. Every morning for at least an hour to three I am working on writing or editing.
Did you go into writing thinking that it would be a hobby or a job?
Never a job. I read that 10,000 hours of practice can get you on the road to great success, whatever your discipline. It’s a common rule of thumb, popularized by Malcom Gladwell in his bestseller ‘Outliers: The Story of Success.’ I’ve done far more than that and know it only takes one particular person in the right position, at the right time to push you forward. So, never give up.
What inspires you?
I know I can write stories as good as the bestsellers. One day (6 hours) at a book launch I sold almost as much as ‘Go Set a Watchman’ a novel by Harper Lee. I get validation all the time but some coin for my efforts would really put icing on that cake.
Let’s move on and give readers some insight into your personal life.
What is your favorite:
- Animal – My son’s Labradoodle. Respectful, well-trained, pretty damn smart and bilingual. He understands Korean and English commands.
- Food – Almost everything but celery. I like McMuffins at lunchtime when I’m really hungry. Puttanesca pasta for when I want a break from meat.
- Movie – ‘The Unforgiven’ a western which blurs the line between who is good and who is evil.
- TV show – Homeland and Yellowstone
- Singer – Michael Buble and his kick-ass band
- Author –Dan Fesperman
What are your pet peeves?
I have many but showing up early and the appointment is almost always late.
Who is your hero?
My nephew. He rescued his baby son from his wife’s family using violence and fled from the law, on the run. He turned himself in after his son was safe and risked prison. The boy’s mother and her family were toxic. Many of them died from various drug usage and violence a year or so later. I hope his son realizes that Father’s Day should be the most important day of his life.
Give us one thing on your bucket list.
Africa. I’ve travelled to 5 of 7 continents.
What would readers find surprising about you?
When I’m alone and think of certain things, like my nephew, I do tear up.
If you could go to heaven, who would you visit?
My grandfather who was a rum runner. His life inspired me to write THE RUMRUBNNERS’S BOY. He died when I was about 3 but stories on him course through our families.
Any bad habits?
I like my rum and THC laced tea. A few vices, but no gambling.
Now that our readers know who E.R. Yatscoff is let’s get down to the business of your book, Fire Dream, the first book in your Firefighter Crime Series. How long did it take you from beginning to end before your novel was finished, and how did you decide on the topic and title?
I think it was about 18 months to put down on paper-more in my head as it went along. If writers got paid by what was in their heads—like lawyers and their billable hours—no one could afford their books. The story was originally called Old Flames until BWL Publishing picked it up and rebranded it. The fire dream title derives from the haunting memory of an almost forgotten crime. We’ve all done some stupid stuff as teens that many will never admit and are ashamed of—but nothing on the level like Captain Ormond.
Please tell us a little bit about, Fire Dream.
Few firefighters write fiction. When their incident is over, firefighters return to station and get ready for the next call. There is seldom any follow up unless you are a fire investigator. I was encouraged as rookie not to inquire as to why those people did that, or how badly they were hurt or if they survived. There’s just too many incidents and too much pain and suffering that can make your head explode. Did I get there as fast as I could, or taken more time? Did I take the fastest route? Should I have reported that small detail on my inspection report? Why didn’t I know this car was electric, or where the batteries were?
Firefighters save them, EMS takes them, and the cops investigate.
My firefighting experience combined with a trip back to my hometown while briefly meeting an old flame was the impetus. I like taking a character who is courageous, calm and controlled amidst chaos and then throwing that person into a situation where he has no experience, no allies, and no equipment to back him up.
What was your hardest challenge writing this book?
Look, I’m just a mug with no English degree or literary training. However, I do love to tell stories. The romantic, hot obsession parts were difficult. My writers group women helped me a lot on that. I’d rather write suspense and action, but hey, men and women and love and sex make the world go around.
What kind of research did you have to do?
Only a bit on the jurisdiction of Ontario fire marshals and their powers as I was an Edmonton, Alberta firefighter. Also on the Russian Mafiya. ‘Write what you know’ and I rose through the firefighting ranks, retiring as a station captain. Thousands of med calls, response to assaults, bombings, vehicle accidents, river rescues, electrical hazards, and of course, fires. So, generally not much research. When no one knows who to call or what to do when they see something weird or impossible to comprehend, firefighters always figure it out.
Tell us a little bit about book 2, Man on Fire and book 3, Final Response. Will there be a book 4 in the series?
Man On Fire has many of the same characters as Fire Dream but the protagonist is now a chief and gets sucked into a world of violence, lies, and the Russian Mafiya. The idea came from organized crime/casinos and private firefighting companies who are trying to wrest control of traditional fire departments.
Final Response is set during a frigid Canadian winter where gangs and the brutal weather take their toll on a firefighting crew who are tasked to protect a large city. I was on duty one chilly February and there was blizzard outside. I hoped we didn’t have to get a call and go out in that. As I looked at the white-out I saw no vehicles or pedestrians passing and wondered what it would be like to be all alone in my fire station with my crew for 6 months and a constant blizzard outside.
As for Book 4, I’m always thinking about another especially when I see my retired firefighting pals. Old war stories get the juices flowing.
Any other works in progress?
Services Rendered is in a final edit. It’s about a couple of home renovators who have a sideline of helping out people when the courts or cops can’t. They’re the bad kinda good. A mashup of HGTV, the Equalizer, and Home Improvement. Spending part of winter in Columbia has been inspiration for Tayrona. Five chapters into it already. It’s an abduction and murder tale set in Tayrona National Park, Columbia. I’m also rolling around another MG novel.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
You must get feedback. If Eric Clapton had stayed in his basement strumming is guitar he’d still be there. Join or start a writer’s group in your town or online. Find beta readers who you can trust to give you an honest opinion of your work. NEVER let anyone read your 1st draft—it’ll be too hard for them to read and you’ll be disappointed, if not shocked, about their response. Your wife, sister, mother, will not be a good judge. They love you.
Everyone wants to be a writer, but few will ever put in the work required. The work is in the editing—no speed bumps, spelling or grammar goofs, no structure issues. But DO write. It’s almost magical where your story and the characters will take you. Great non-fiction reads like fiction, not like a chronological list. Keep reading to see how a story is structured. Also 99.9 % of writers don’t get giant marketing machines behind them. When you read a book, please review it. Reviews are the lifeblood to lift a good author from obscurity