By Desiree Johnson
Killeen Daily Herald
Solidifying his place on the short list of famous black male writers, Eric Jerome Dickey has made a name for himself in the publishing world.
With 16 books, short stories, a comic series and a movie under his belt, Dickey is giving Central Texas residents a reason to be excited when he makes an appearance at the Clear Creek Main Exchange on Sunday to sign his latest release, "Pleasure."
Dickey has touched on every subject – from gritty, edgy works to relationship-oriented novels – and he says taking the focus off himself and his experiences is what opens him to the most topics.
"You're looking for a script or story, not yourself," Dickey said in a telephone interview. "You find something that is challenging and so not you and ask yourself, 'Can I step into their shoes and make it work?'"
As a major movie buff, Dickey relates writing to casting actors in a movie. The process of imagination becomes the process of "casting your book," and auditions are the way an author writes and rewrites a character. During that process anything can change, from a character's sex to occupation to personality, until the character is right for the story.
"All this comes together and that's what makes a story sing. No two books should sound the same," Dickey said. "Each character comes from a different place and has his or her own background. I find a character, create his or her background and that background determines how they put words together, how they think, even whether or not the character drives you or drives you crazy.
"Every little thing you do can completely change the way people perceive the story."
The process leads Dickey to many different places to research his characters, including picking up a psychology book from time to time to understand more fully how the human mind works. It's a system that works: His characters are multi-faceted and drive his narrative to keep readers flipping pages.
Dickey says even the staunchest movie fan will enjoy the simple pleasure of reading one of his novels.
"The thing about movies are, somebody had to write it," Dickey said. "Denzel (Washington) doesn't just show up somewhere and say, 'I think I'll be a rogue cop today.'"
Dickey says the people who still like to read are still reading and says they're part of a "little cult thing."
But books have a long way to go before they're pushed off the shelves, and creating them is something any writer – with plenty of discipline, of course – can be a part of.
"Lots of people think you just wait for inspiration, but that's not what you do; it's a proactive thing," Dickey said. "You don't wait for something interesting to happen and then say, 'Oooh, now I have something to write about.' I spend a lot of time just sitting in a chair in front of a computer and reading any material I can learn from to better develop my characters."
If "Pleasure" doesn't have readers flipping pages, nothing will. Dickey describes the captivating novel as "a steamy erotic book with a complicated character."
"She feels confined by the rules of society, and she's getting over heartbreak, which is a big motivator for the way she behaves and sees the world," Dickey said. "She's asking herself, how do I get the pleasure without going through any of the s--- that gives me pain?"
Grab a copy of "Pleasure" and have it signed by Dickey at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Clear Creek Main Exchange on Fort Hood.
Contact Desiree Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7559