Debut Author Spotlight: Erica Ferencik

Author Erica Ferencik
Photo Credit: Kate Hannon

As soon as we hear that a book is an author's debut, we're struck by an intense desire to know more, more, more! This affliction is especially fitting when the author is writing mysteries. With that, we are pleased to introduce Erica Ferencik, debut author of the upcoming thriller, The River at Night, an RT Top Pick! available tomorrow! 

Name: Erica Ferencik

Book: The River at Night

Genre: Thriller

Series:  Standalone

Current Home: Massachusetts

Favorite Word: Right now? Sleep. Also, “sasquatch” has always cracked me up, not sure why.

Was this the first full length novel you ever wrote?

This is my sixth full-length novel, with several half written ones in the drawer.

Tell us about your day job (current or former).

At the moment I am lucky enough not to have a day job other than writing my next novel. I’ve been a college English teacher, a realtor and still work as an editor and ghostwriter. I’ve also taught dance exercise, done construction and worked in a radio station.

How did you start writing?

I was a fine artist — a painter: watercolors and mixed media — until I was 26 years old. Then one day I woke up and literally lost interest in painting ever again. Just tossed all my drawing and painting stuff in storage. From then on, all I wanted to do was write. That was over 30 years ago.

Have you ever been on a rafting trip like the one on The River at Night?

I’ve been on five white water rafting trips, four in Maine and one in Alaska, but none of the trips was as crazy as the one I describe in the book. I did try to access every second of my time on all of those trips — use all my sense memories — to help create the scenes in the book. On one of my very earliest trips back in the ‘80s, when there were very few regulations (helmets — even life vests were optional) our guide was a bit of a nut case who flipped the raft to teach us a lesson.

What’s the one item you would want with you if you were ever stranded in the wilderness?

A working cell phone.

Who is your literary inspiration?

There are literally hundreds of authors who have inspired me over time. Most recently, though, I’d have to say Peter Matthiessen, who wrote, among other things, the mind-blowing At Play in the Fields of the Lord, Lily King’s Euphoria, Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, James Dickey’s Deliverance (of course) and Stoner, by John Williams.

Which books have you enjoyed reading recently?

The North Water, by Ian McGuire: absolutely riveting and brilliant.

In the Cut, by Susanna Moore: terrifying, sexy, an underappreciated gem.

A Carnivore’s Inquiry, by Sabina Murray: talk about dread! Another under-loved treasure.

Contrary Motion, by Andy Mozina: heartbreaking, funny, un-put-downable.

The Financial Life of Poets, by Jess Waller: hilarious: a very rare and difficult thing to accomplish on the page.

What are you working on next?

My next novel is a survival thriller set in the Peruvian Amazon about a young American woman who falls for a local man and goes to live in his jungle village. There she experiences the joys of family for the first time, only to be devastated by a mysterious illness as well as the warring tribe that holds the cure.

This means I am planning a trip to the Peruvian Amazon this May to do research. I’m terrified and excited at the same time.

The River at Night will be available in digital and print tomorrow. Digital copies start at $9.99, grab yours here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play. For more debut authors you'll want to discover, click here.