Mark interviews actor/director/producer/writer Eriq La Salle about his latest novel LAWS OF ANNIHILATION and his life-long passion for storytelling.
Prior to the interview, Mark shares comments from recent episodes, thanks Patrons, provides a personal update, and shares a word about this episode’s sponsor.
You can learn more about how you can get your audiobooks distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at starkreflections.ca/Findaway.
In their conversation, Mark and Eriq talk about:
- How Eriq had always wanted to be a writer
- Joining the high school drama club in junior high with the idea that they’d be able to put on the plays that he would write
- Being told by the drama teacher that he had to audition, and how that started the “acting bug” that took him through a multi-decade career acting, directing, and producing
- The way the author desire resurfaced about a dozen years ago
- The prequel story to The Martyr Maker series (which appears in the end of LAWS OF DEPRAVITY) and why Eriq wrote it
- The concept behind The Martyr Maker franchise
- Loving movies and television and being inspired by the storytelling conventions there
- The way each of the three main characters leads a little bit more in the first three books in the series
- Eriq’s work as Executive Producer for several years on Chicago PD
- Directing and Executive Producing Dick Wolf’s first show launched into streaming on Amazon Prime
- A minor character in the series (known as “The African”) who was fashioned after the Luca Brasi character in The Godfather and who will return in a later book in the series
- How it took 10 years to find a publisher, and Eriq’s DIY experience self-publishing
- The importance of understanding and participating in the grass-roots style marketing as an author
- Having to do a lot of marketing work even when you’re with a larger publisher
- The way that the status of “celebrity” can sometimes work against you
- Eriq’s respect for each medium and how to re-think, and re-learn in his unique roles within them
- The importance of humbling yourself
- How the marketing person that Eriq had hired and worked with eventually became his agent
- Feeling that he is a better writer of fiction novels than of screenplays, despite his years of experience as an actor, director, and producer
- The intention cinematic writing that Eriq did when crafting The Martyr Maker series
- Enjoying collecting “useless trivia” and how that can aid in the research aspect of writing a novel
- Giving credit to the technical advisors Eriq has worked with on shows like ER and Chicago PD
- The various first readers that Eriq works with
- Being an old fashioned paper book reader
- Eriq’s great respect for librarians
- The delightful feeling of seeing your book in various bookstores of all sizes, including indie bookstores, big box stores, and airport bookstores
- Doing several events in New York for the week the book is launching, including a special “On the Couch with Eriq La Salle”
- The importance of listening to the messaging
- The understanding that “we are blue collar artists”
- Advice Eriq would offer to writers who are working at it and haven’t yet found their success
- And more . . .
After the interview, Mark reflects on a few of the things Eriq talked about, as well as a subtle, but important way Eriq spoke about the “team” he works with as an author.
Links of Interest:
- Eriq La Salle’s Website
- Eriq La Salle’s Books
- Video of The Interview with Eriq (YouTube)
- EP 328 – Reflecting on a New Season with Terry Fallis
- EP 327 – Writing the Shadow with Joanna Penn
- EP 326 – Rebranding and Relaunching with E.L. Williams
- Port Dover: Friday the 13th
- Best Book Ever Podcast
- Best Book Ever Pod
- Mark’s YouTube Channel
- Buy Mark a Coffee
- Patreon for Stark Reflections
- Best Book Ever Podcast
- Lovers Moon Podcast
- The Relaxed Author
- Publishing Pitfalls for Authors
- An Author’s Guide to Working with Libraries & Bookstores
- Wide for the Win
- Mark’s Canadian Werewolf Books
- The Canadian Mounted: A Trivia Guide to Planes, Trains and Automobiles
- Yippee Ki-Yay Motherf*cker: A Trivia Guide to Die Hard
Actor/director/producer Eriq La Salle is best known to worldwide television audiences for his award-winning portrayal of the commanding Dr. Peter Benton on the critically acclaimed and history-making medical drama ER. Educated at Juilliard and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, his credits range from Broadway to film roles opposite Eddie Murphy in Coming to America and Robin Williams in One Hour Photo and Hugh Jackman in Logan. La Salle has maintained a prolific acting career while at the same time working steadily as a director, taking the helm for HBO, Showtime, NBC, Fox and CBS. He remains a valued member of the Dick Wolf Entertainment camp after 4 years as Executive Producer and director on Chicago PD in addition to directing episodes of Law & Order, and Law and Order Organized Crime.
As a writer, La Salle is the author of several critically acclaimed thrillers published in 2022 and 2023-Laws of Depravity, Laws of Wrath, and Laws of Annihilation. He has also written an episode of The Twilight Zone which made WGA’s list of 101 Best Written TV Series. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW PORTION OF THIS EPISODE APPEARS BELOW.
The transcript was automatically generated, and then human-edited/cleaned-up. Special thanks to Megan Spann for the transcription work.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Eric. Welcome to the Stark Reflections podcast.
Eriq La Salle: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I am so excited. We’re going to be talking a lot about Laws of Annihilation, which is the third book in your Martyr Maker series coming out October 24.
Eriq La Salle: Yes, exactly. Yes.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Okay, so I want to get into the series, and I’m particularly interested in what inspired you to write some pretty dark, some pretty dark, beautifully dark, stories.
But before we get into that, I had the great honor of getting to see you do a keynote talk at a conference that Overdrive was organizing in August, called Digipalooza, where you gave a talk to a room full of, you know, some of the most wonderful people in the world. Librarians.
Eriq La Salle: Yes.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: And, I was so thrilled to find out that you define yourself as a storyteller, and always have. But you got into acting because you were interested in writing?
Eriq La Salle: Yeah, originally. So, in high school, because I’d been writing since, I don’t know, eight years old. And when I say writing just poetry, just musings. Not saying it was good, just I was writing. But it laid a seed in me. By the time I was 14 and a freshman in high school, I had this great idea that I would write this amazing play and that the drama club would perform it, and I’d go on to become this big writer. And so when I showed up to the first day of auditions to explain to the drama teacher that I wanted to write, he just looked at me like I was crazy and said, I need you to audition for a role or don’t come back. And so I auditioned and I got the role. And then, so that started the acting bug. And of course, which carried me, you know, for several decades. And then, about ten years ago, eleven years ago, in the course of my acting career, I’ve written screenplays, because once I started directing, you write your own short films, you go out. So I did that. I wrote some feature length scripts as well. But then this author thing sort of came back more so around twelve years ago, mulled over it, and then was able to finally put something down about eleven years ago. It was very mediocre, but then I just wanted to stay with it. So then I used some of it to launch the Martyr Maker series. So I kind of salvaged certain, which is what writers do, I don’t know if writers ever throw anything away. So because we all think what we do is good. So, anyway, so I salvaged some of a story, that I first wrote, and then was able to rework it and integrate it into the Martyr Maker series. So that’s how that came about.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Cool, and also, at the end of the first book in the series, you have sort of a prequel story. Was that prequel story there previously, or was that sort of a backstory you wanted to flesh out?
Eriq La Salle: It was a backstory. It was at the time, when I first published, Laws of Depravity, it took a few months before I started thinking of the next book, which was Laws of Wrath. And in the meantime, people had gotten very excited about the series, and they were like, when is the next book coming? So I actually wrote the prequel just as a little treat for the supporters and the people. I just wanted them to have a little something. So we originally sold it more so online. And then once, the books, the self published books were republished by Sourcebooks, then we decided to include it in the book. But it was always sort of an afterthought. So that’s why, and I actually like doing the main story first, and then doing the prequel after, instead of having the prequel and then the main, so that worked out. But that was really just a little treat for supporters who kept asking, when is the next thing coming? So I was trying to buy some time before the second book came. I mean, look, it was a 20 page thing, so it’s not going to fulfill any real hunger for it. But people were grateful and it was just great to be able to put something else out in between.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: And I’m going to be jumping all over the place because just from what you just told me, I have three different questions. I want to go in different directions. But one of the first things I want to ask is, when Laws of Depravity ends, it ends with something very, no spoilers, but it ends with something like, oh my god, I can’t wait to pick up book two. And I haven’t yet finished book two and book three is in my hands. Fortunately, I have a copy that I can get through. Although, I’ll be honest with you, I’m very much wanting to listen to you read it, because that’s another perk or benefit of you having a great voice,being able to be the multitalented writer and read by the author.
Eriq La Salle: Yeah, I figured, I just want to do it all. So yeah.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: That’s, that’s so cool. Is there a similar sort of, I mean, everything resolves at the end of the first novel, and then there’s something that happens where you know that, and this is fantastic, so, you get Freeman, you get Kavanaugh, and then they’re working in collaboration with Agent Macklin as well. So you know they’re going to come back, which is fantastic, because it kind of looks like there’s some stuff that happens where you’re not sure that that’s going to happen. You carry them through all three books, right?
Eriq La Salle: Yeah. The concept of the franchise was that originally, of course, it started off with the two detectives, so it was because of my work in film and television. I borrow a lot and am inspired. I love movies, I love television, so I’ll take a general concept. So, the first book was conceived sort of to be close to the movie Seven, where you have these two, this salt and pepper team, an African American cop along with an Irish Italian American cop. And they are the best closers of serial killers in New York. So you have that. So that’s a great franchise right there. But then just to balance it out more, and it just organically became more interesting to me. I wanted to include a Jewish FBI agent, who’s female. And so the three of them form this really obviously, the two partners are very close and they’re also best friends. But then to throw this third entity in who doesn’t quite fit with them, but you see their relationship evolve as they investigate these horrific crimes. So, the cool concept for me of the series is that each book focuses on one of them. So they’re all very present and relevant to all the stories. But each character, depending on, like in the first book, as they’re investigating the death of clergy, we tell that through the point of view of a cop who used to be an altar boy, who was actually molested by clergy. So that just gives that investigation just a slightly different edge. The second book, the African American character, Fee, his father is, was a famous gangster who has now gone straight, and he’s a very powerful mover and shaker in New York, you know, straight. But he did a lot of horrible things in his past, and one of the crimes that he committed in his past comes back and haunts them in his present. So, of course, Fee’s point of view is a little stronger than Macklin or Kavanaugh’s. And then in the third book, Laws of Annihilation, we are investigating, anti Semitic hate crimes. And so having that told from the point of view of a Jewish female, FBI agent, so she has the stronger point of view, but all three of them are very much integrated into all the stories. But I lead a little bit more and explore the personal challenges, with each individual, which gives you that extra thing that you said where you’re not always sure who’s going to survive. And they may survive physically, but will they survive morally, will they survive spiritually, will they survive mentally and emotionally? That’s what, to me, makes an even greater thriller series, because I think for the most part, thrillers, you know people go in understanding that it’s a good guy chasing a bad guy, or multiple good guys chasing multiple bad guys. So at the end, you already know, in general, the good guy has to catch the bad guy. Otherwise that’s a failed protagonist. You know what I mean? And there are certain instances where, of course, the bad guy gets away, and certain things, but my books focus as much on not only will they solve the case, will they save themselves, because each one goes through so much personal, spiritual, turmoil. Basically, they have to go through hell, in order to come out and be whole and be made whole. And so the question becomes, not just will they catch the bad guy, but will they survive, as a whole? And that’s not always guaranteed. And that’s where a different type of suspense comes in, because you’re rooting for these people, and then you realize this might break them, they might survive, but it might break them for the rest of their lives. And I find that interesting.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah, there were many elements of that, even, the relationship that Kavanaugh had with his own past and what had happened to him, and then even the way that you set it up at the beginning, you weren’t sure, is Kavanaugh a Dexter kind of character? What’s going on here? Right. The way you painted it was really suspenseful, so you had to keep reading. And then this relationship that is introduced into Kavanaugh’s is so powerful, too, which was really amazing. So I’m so excited that you get to see the other perspectives from the other characters in more detail, because you do get their perspective.
Eriq La Salle: Right.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh, that is fantastic. Wow, I’m just so excited to let people know about this series and pick it up. So it seems that you’ve done a lot of writing with Dick Wolf, for programs, for television programs and stuff. And that happens a lot.
Eriq La Salle: No, no no. I don’t, I don’t write, I direct and produce.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: You direct and produce. Oh, so no writing in that area, but you’re familiar.
Eriq La Salle: Yeah, no writing. I was the executive producer for several years for Chicago PD.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Right.
Eriq La Salle: I am currently directing and executive producing Dick Wolf’s first show for streaming.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh wow.
Eriq La Salle: Which is going to be on Amazon Prime, and so it’s his first foray into that. So I’ve directed the pilot and I’ll direct several episodes of that. So we were shooting when, of course, the strike hit and we got shut down. So we’re getting ready to start back with that. So I’m much more of a director, producer for him. My writing is, yes.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: But I was just thinking that some of the elements in a serialized, episodic show, you know, shows you’ve acted in and also produced and worked on. That’s where you do focus on different characters. Right. So this episode may focus on one of these main characters, and that keeps it a lot more interesting, too, for some of the viewers because they may have a favorite. They may like, oh, I can’t wait to see Kavanaugh’s perspective again. Or Macklin, we don’t really get to dig into Macklin. I can’t wait to dig into that one. That’s great.
Eriq La Salle: That’s yeah, it gives me some flexibility. And there’s even a character, that is a quote unquote small character, particularly in the first book. He has much more to do in the second book, but he’s just such a fascinating character. He reminds me of, he was fashioned after Luca Brasi from The Godfather, which was Marlon Brando’s right hand man, who sleeps with the fishes. And so I created this character called The African. And, his backstory, which is so interesting, that I decided to also give him a book. Now, he’s not a main character, so the fourth or fifth book will actually be from his point of view.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh my god, there’s more.
Eriq La Salle: Oh yeah.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Okay because he’s a fascinating character as they interact with The African.
Eriq La Salle: Right, but that was a very small, very small role.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Very small, but he still stands out.
Eriq La Salle: But the second book, he has more. And that’s when you get to understand more of his things that, you just kind of wonder, why is the guy missing fingers? And when you first meet him, you’re like, okay. But then when you understand all that he has done and all the things that he’s been through, so he gets his own book. But first, we make sure that the three leads, they have theirs.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Right.
Eriq La Salle: And then I don’t want to spoil it, but then there’s another character that we’re going to also do a point of view of, yeah.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah. Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Because it’s kind of like, what’s the backstory? Where’s this person from? I’m hoping to get more. That’s fantastic. I love that you have these plans. I want to go back a little bit to you. So you talked about the fact that prior to Sourcebooks picking this up, and I think I just caught this earlier today on your YouTube channel. It was you giving a talk somewhere? It was a clip from a talk where you had said even though you are a celebrity, even though you are a household name and people recognize you as Dr. Peter Benton or any of the other roles that you’ve played, it still took you ten years to land the publisher. Can I dig into your experience doing it yourself initially and what that experiment was like? And then how did it work out for you, to I mean, Sourcebooks is a fantastic publisher. How did that all work out?
Eriq La Salle: Well, you know, it took a long time. And so in waiting, I just said, well, I’m going to self publish, so I self published. And, we had a pretty good response, got some good reviews. I mean, you’re hindered a lot when you self publish. You don’t get the big reviews. You don’t get the New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post. You don’t get the, quote, unquote, legitimate reviews, because they don’t do that with self published books. So there’s a limit, obviously. You don’t get mass distribution. There are a lot of things you don’t get. But one thing that you do get is a lesson on how to use grassroots promotions and approach. And quite honestly, that never changes. And so, even now, being with a well established publisher, as we’re making our way towards the release of the third book. Now, this book has never been self published. This is the first, unseen book, that we’re doing. So we get to now do it the quote unquote, traditional way.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Right?
Eriq La Salle: But, having said that, we still employ many of the things that we learned in marketing and strategy. And I think it’s a combination. I think it’s having a great machine behind you from the traditional way of publishing with the publisher. But I also think it’s important for writers, authors to have the grassroots, the book clubs, the podcast, just doing things that you can do. If you can get an interview, do an interview. If you can get book clubs, 20 people to come out, if you can get virtual book clubs, all of that stuff is considered more grassroots, hugely valuable. And so we are now blessed, and fortunate enough to now integrate, so we’re not relying on just one. I think a lot of times, people have this romantic notion, myself included, that when you’re with a big publisher, everything is just taken care of and everything, and it’s going to be great. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great being with the publisher. It’s great being with Sourcebooks. They’ve been very good with me. They’ve exposed me to again, when you said you were at the speech that I gave, that’s all them, which I would not have necessarily been privy to.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Right.
Eriq La Salle: But my point is, you can never have enough resource, you can never have enough creativity as far as marketing your book, as far as getting the word out there. And then, when you come from a different medium like myself, and so when we talk about, oh, well, you’re a celebrity, that doesn’t translate. Sometimes it works against you. And I’m by no means bitching about being a celebrity. But what I’m saying is, when I went from acting to directing, there were a lot of doubters, there were a lot of people that felt, oh, he’s not a real director, he’s an actor that wants to and then all of a sudden, they start going, wow, this guy’s a really, but it took a while.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah.
Eriq La Salle: So can you imagine going from acting and directing and producing to author? And so you’re not guaranteed, because you have some celebrity that that’s going to translate, and transfer. And for me, the cool thing is I respect each medium. I almost feel like I start over when I go into another because I have various ventures of creativity. So when I went from actor to director, I wasn’t thinking as an actor. I started over. And how do I think as a director? How do I learn as a director from a director’s point of view? Now, once I started feeling comfortable with that, then I would put everything that I learned as an actor into it, which gave me an extra thing. And I’m considered a performance director because of my experience with acting. So now we take everything that we’ve learned, and then we start approaching being an author. You start over, and you start really understanding the medium. How do things work? You have to really humble yourself. You have to truly humble yourself. But if you’re going with this attitude that, well, I’m an actor, or I have celebrity, or I this or I that, that fails way more. There are a lot of celebrities that have not made that leap, and they’re very different mediums, and you have to respect each medium accordingly. And I’ve always been good at that, and I like learning new things. And so that’s how I approached it. And then, someone that was doing marketing for me that was in the business, had worked for a lot of the big publishing houses was responsible, or partly responsible for many NewYork Times bestsellers. And so this person was working with me as a marketing person that I hired. And our relationship was just so great and really believed in me and believed in, so I asked her to become my agent. That was eight years ago. And so we’ve just been grinding for eight years and doing what we can, and then, it’s her tenacity that then led to the connection to Sourcebooks. We sent it out, and we’d been rejected by every major publisher at least three or four times.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Wow, okay.
Eriq La Salle: Per publishing house not. Yeah. So there were lots and lots and lots of rejections, but she just kept on. And then we landed. We found a home that felt good and natural. And that’s what brings us here.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah, I think one of the things I’ve always admired about Sourcebooks is, Dominique’s approach is very much within depth, and lots of experience in big publishing and yet operate Sourcebooks with a lot more dynamic and, maybe, agility. That is, perhaps some of the larger platforms can’t move as fast, can’t make those decisions. So I think Sourcebooks has always been cutting edge when it comes to that as well. So it was probably, you and your agent, when you found Sourcebooks, was probably sounded like it worked really well together.
Eriq La Salle: Yeah.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Awesome. I’m so curious because you joined the drama club and wanted, because they’re going to put on your plays that you’re writing for, right? And then you had this really long term, wonderful distraction as an actor. And you were trained as an actor at various, Juilliard and places like that. But were you still writing all along? Were you still, like daily journals or what? Were you still working?
Eriq La Salle: No, not as, a matter of fact. It had gone away for a while. I was very happy, very fulfilled, and had you know, started my career with success and maintained levels of success and some better. Not nothing hasn’t always been perfect. There are ebbs flows, but many more flows than ebbs. I was very happy. And like I said, I would write more out of necessity. I would write if I had to direct a short film, no one’s going to give me a script. There were a couple of ideas I had for screenplays, both feature films as well as pilots. I would, I would write those and I discovered, I believe I’m a better writer of fiction than I am even of screenplays, which is ironic because you would think I would have much more experience with screenplays.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah, on multiple levels.
Eriq La Salle: On multiple levels. But there’s something about being able to tap into the subconscious and tap into the mental and the history, which gives me a different type of freedom as a writer. Whereas when you’re, of course, writing a screenplay, things are, unless it’s a flashback, things are very present. And you don’t really understand the psyche always, you have to show the psyche. And here, as an author, you get to show and discuss. It’s not just one way of understanding the psyche and exploring the psyche. So I really like that. Yeah.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: One of the things I have to say, if I’m allowed to throw some compliments your way, is one of the things I’ve always admired about Michael Crichton’s writing is when you read Michael Crichton’s novels, they’re very cinematic. You can very easily see what’s going on, as well as dialogue. And those are two of the elements, from your writing as well, that the dialogue is so wonderful. I’m listening and obviously, I was listening to you reading the dialogue. But as I’m going for a run, doing chores, raking, all the things I’m doing this time of year, and I’m listening to it, I’m completely losing myself and where I am as I get absorbed in the story, because I’m visualizing that. And that was a couple of elements of the writing that I thought were amazing, which also, I mean, that led to the suspense. Notches it up that much more. You’re feeling and there’s some torturous moments and you’re actually feeling this, which is really wonderful. I love that.
Eriq La Salle: Thank you. A, it’s natural, but B, it’s also intentional, because the goal, one of the end goals is to, outside of making these best selling series, is to lead to either a streaming show or a movie series. So they’re written cinematically intentionally, obviously. That’s how I see the world. I see the world in a cinematic way. So I don’t know that I’ll have a choice but to that way anyway. But, there is intentionality behind it, which is to let people, and also to offer an alternative to certain books. I write short chapters. I write for, Toni Morrison once said she wrote her first book because she wanted to read it. And I think that that’s a really powerful, impactful thing for authors. I write for myself and for people like me, people with short attention spans, people that want to visualize, people that want to be right there. And just the texture and the detail. People that are really smart and usually guess what’s going to happen. That’s why I have so many twists and big twists in my books. Because while you’re trying to figure out this one, I’m on to the next one. So the impact, for instance, of the end of Laws of Depravity, I knew I had something when people were like, whoa, did not see that coming. And you know what I mean? So every book has twists. So I write for people that’s like minded. And being cinematic is a choice, because like you said, whether one is listening to it on an audiobook, whether one is reading it, I want them to be able to smell, taste, hear, feel, everything that the character is going through. So I write it in such detail that people go and that does amp up the suspense and the terror of it all, because you do feel like, oh, I’m right there. I’ve had people that tell me, I will only read your books during the day. I won’t read them at night because they’re just a little too detailed. Then the other half of people, other half are like, how did this come out of your head?You know. What is your imagination? That’s what I write for, people with vivid imaginations and people with not so vivid imaginations, to help them, you know what I mean? If they can’t do it on their own, then I’ll paint the picture for you in such detail that you will enjoy having a vivid imagination or reading the works of someone with a vivid imagination, yeah.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh, man. And then the research involved, too, because you had to do, obviously did some research in terms of I mean, for the first book, obviously some religious persecutions and things like that, I imagine. How do you approach the research? Are you a go visit the library kind of guy? You online interview with people?
Eriq La Salle: I’m online. I’m, you know, I like to think that I have a lot of semi useless information rolling around up here. I read a lot of trivia. I read, and once you can give it direction, once you become a writer, there’s a place for it. So you might not know it when you’re reading an article, when you’re reading the word of the day, when you’re reading whatever or you’re seeing something you might not know, and then at some point, you pull it out and you use it. So, my research, I’ve been very fortunate to have amazing technical advisors, by working on ER, working on Chicago PD. So between medicine and law, I’ve got great technical advisors. Hey, does this feel accurate for cops? Is this the right part of the investigation? And then my guy will give me some stuff. And so it just gives it much more authenticity. And my books have to pass a series of discriminating first readers for different, I give it to different people for different reasons. When they sign off on it, then it gives me the confidence that I have a very well rounded, accurate, story to tell. And I love sharing that.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: That’s fantastic. Is it okay if I ask, like, you’re reading, are you a paper guy? Ebooks, audiobooks?
Eriq La Salle: I’m an old fashioned paper guy. I love the feel of a book. I love dog earring it. And I have some really cool bookmark, which I use some of the time, but I’m just old, I’m old school. I like turning a page back, I’ll pick it back up. I like the feel of it in my hands. I mean, I read a lot of stuff digitally. Sometimes it’s just convenient. But that’s more so from my industry of reading screenplays, et cetera. But every once in a while, a manager just sent me a book, digitally. And sometimes now you get books before they’re published, so you feel good about that. So I can adapt, but if you talk about my first choice and my first love, it’s just good old fashioned book in hand. Comfortable spot. I’m good.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh, I love that. Okay, as we’re getting close to wrapping up the end of the interview, let’s first let my listeners know where they can find out more about you online. And obviously, I’m sure that the Laws of Annihilation as well as Laws of Depravity and Laws of Wrath are available everywhere, that books can be found, including ask for it at your local library.
Eriq La Salle: Exactly. Yeah. And um, I have a great, as you witness, I have a great respect for librarians. Ah and just, you know, when we started this journey, just understanding the power of librarians and purchasing books and helping and so yeah, so libraries, bookstores, obviously independent bookstores. The big ones, Amazon, it’s out there. Which is, again, the advantage of being with a publisher like Sourcebooks as opposed to self publishing, because again, you get more mass distribution. So the book is yeah. Buddy of mine… And it’s great.
We’re in airports at Hudson News and you have these, I call them buoys of fantasy throughout your life and your career. So when you start something, you go, oh, I’d like to see this happen, like to see this happen. And they’re like when you’re swimming in this wide sea, you just basically feel like, okay, I’ve accomplished this goal and now let me swim to the next one. Oh, I’ve accomplished this goal and waters get rough here and I’m not going to make it, I’m not going to make it. And then you go, okay, I made this one. And yeah, like walking through an airport and ah, seeing your book on display, there’s still a lot of firsts for me to experience. AndI think that I have a huge fantasy of being on a plane and someone just happens to be reading my book. I haven’t stumbled upon the stranger, the book yet. So being in bookstores, being in airports, the availability. Good friend of mine was shooting something in some little remote town, and he walked into the bookstore and he was like, man, your book is here. And so, yeah, it just makes you feel.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah, there’s nothing like that feeling. Yeah, for sure. You’re going to be doing a tour or you’ve started to do the promotional tour for Laws of Depravity?
Eriq La Salle: I’ll be in New York the week of, and we’re doing several events in New York, doing some really cool events, because book events aren’t always cool, and they’re not always sexy. So, I kind of want to, if they used to be, I want to bring sexy back. And if they’re not, I just want to add. So we’re doing some really really, we’ve got a great event in conjunction with Roche Bobois, the exclusive furniture store, high end furniture store. And what they’re doing an evening called on the Couch with Eric La Salle. And it’s just really cool, champagne and wine and me talking to people and being interviewed, as people are sitting on $30,000 chairs. You know, it’s so, you know it’s really. Again, but it’s cool. It’s a cool New York event. And we’ve got some book club stuff there. So I’ll be doing that. And I have to, fortunately, you know the strike is, the writer strike is over, so we’re beginning to get back to work. So, I have to,the week after the book comes out, I go back to the Dick Wolf show. So then I’ll be planning things sporadically when I can because I’m probably shooting for a month or so with Dick Wolf. And then once that, because we were halfway through, once that’s done, then, we will be doing other things. But I don’t have anything booked right now. I got to get through that part of it.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Right, right and the rest of that Christmas season, is people can get you know, buy all three books and go through the whole process.
Eriq La Salle: And I do have people, I do have some really faithful readers that one, two, three. And I love that, you know what I mean? And the cool thing about the series is each, you know, each book is also written as a standalone, but it has these cookies in it, these little rewards for the person that read the first book. There’s something in the second book that they’re waiting for. Now, if you just pick up the second book and you start reading it, it can be a standalone book as well. I totally understand it. The third book is so they all written that way, so you feel you’re covering both grounds. Like, I’m giving you a special treat, who’s been following the series, and there are these references, and they’re these payoffs, these cool little payoffs. But then again, someone just picks it up, they start reading like, wow, this was a cool thriller. So I like that balance. And it was intentional.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: That’s fantastic. So one of the things, you inspired me in so many ways during your keynote talk back in August in Cleveland. And it was the talk about finding a way that artists will always find a way. And I’m so inspired by the fact that as a teenager, you dreamed of being a writer. You had a, still have a great career, but then it came full circle and you came back, and that you never gave up that dream. Do you have any inspiring words or tips for aspiring writers who may be listening to this, who say, wow, like you did it right? The books are out. You’ve got a publisher, you and your agent worked for ten years, eight years, to land that. Any words of wisdom for writers who may be feeling that struggle and all the oppression that’s hitting them?
Eriq La Salle: Well, nothing fresh, obviously. It’s tenacity. I think one thing is, sometimes the world has to get ready for you. Sometimes the world’s not ready for you. And what I mean by that is, there are great people much greater than myself, more talented than myself. If you think about it, they came, they weren’t at the right time. And sometimes the world has to catch up. And so, whether that’s honoring them in death, if you think about it, van Gogh is considered to be one of the greatest artists ever. And in his lifetime, he sold one painting. sold one painting in his lifetime, but now the world had to catch up to his talent. And so I think sometimes people have to, you work as hard as you can. You put yourself around discriminating people. It’s not just your mother telling you, oh, it’s a good book, honey, you know. It’s really really, like once it sort of passes the scrutiny of people with discriminating taste and experts, et cetera, and you know, you have something. And that’s what my agent, which is why I made her my agent, that’s the one thing she gave me. She kept giving me, seeing the vision, the appreciation of the vision. So I felt like I was on to something. And so, it’s validated when people are now talking about these two books. Well, these are the same two books that were written, the first two are the same two books that were written ten years ago. So if they’re holding up now and people are seeing all this amazing stuff in them, I didn’t change the books once I got a deal, it’s the same book. So that means that, that talent was there, whether it’s validated or not. And I think as artists, as writers, as actors, even beyond artists, but the thing is, sometimes we just need the validation, and sometimes we use these big things as validation, but we don’t always get them. Van Gogh didn’t get the validation of being this very successful artist that he deserved to be during his lifetime, he sold one painting. And so if you ask, I would pass that on to people that are aspiring and frustrated, and they don’t think it’s going to happen. They don’t think, and look all of us want our flowers while we’re alive. Like, I don’t want to be a posthumous, amazing writer. I mean, I want to be, but I want my success now as well. Let’s just keep it real, you know what I mean? We all want that. So I would say every once in a while, people have to remind themselves, again only after they’ve passed the test. Because you can have, every writer thinks whatever they write is good for the most part. I’m talking like, stuff that you go, this is a really smart person. I know what kind of stuff they read. I know what standards they’re coming from, and they’re saying that this book is as good as anything they’ve read. And I kept getting that. That’s the other thing. Listen to the messaging, because people don’t always say, people don’t always know what they’re saying to you, good or bad. And so you pay attention to the… and people are kind of skirting around things. It’s probably a weakness. They’re trying to spare your feelings. So sometimes if they’re not talking about something, you’re like, oh, okay, then maybe you can ask pointed questions, depending on a relationship. But, then also, some of the things that they say, you go, there’s a consistency here. And with that consistency, that’s giving me the message, which is, this is solid, really interesting writing. I would say just every once in a while, remind yourself that maybe the world has to catch up to you. Maybe the world has to catch up to your art. And you just keep swinging and swinging, and then having, obviously, the right person, or people that believe in you. And I had my agent that just kept pushing, kept pushing, kept … disappointment, disappointment. Had to talk me off the ledge a couple of times. You know, just all those things. And then her family joined in, and they were like, this book is as good as any of the top writers. I don’t understand why he’s not a bestseller. I don’t understand why he never got a deal. Some days you just need to hear that. Some days you need to know that, oh, it is affecting someone. So I would say, keep that in perspective. And that’s what keeps you going. And you just continue to try to keep getting, if you’ve written one book, write two books. If you’ve written two books, write three books. And you keep on swinging because you don’t know. Listen, here’s the truth. I’m getting my success now because I’ve written three books. The third book got me the deal, and they decided, oh, we will republish these. But so, had I stopped after two, and people think the first two are good, had I stopped after two, it wouldn’t have this mass appeal that we’re in a position of having now. So I would say to writers, if you’ve written one, write two. If you’ve written two, write three. If it’s that important to you, you just keep doing. You just stay committed to the craft and to the work. The other stuff eventually works its way out. By you attracting the right people, by you attracting, you know you do things. The universe starts conspiring to make your dreams come true, depending on one’s spiritual beliefs. I happen to believe that, and I don’t put my spiritual beliefs on other people. I’m just saying what works for me is that my job is … someone once told me, even as a director, we were kind of bitching and moaning about some young directors that were coming up and didn’t know what they were doing, but they were getting these huge jobs. And he’s a fellow director, and he turned to me and he just said, you know man, we are blue collar artists. And when he said that, it put everything in a different perspective. It just means we just keep grinding. We keep grinding. And that’s obviously something that has made this country great, is that mentality of just keep grinding, just keep working. You don’t control the outcome. We all want the outcome to be successful. We don’t control the outcome. But when you release, it seems to attract the certain, and then all of a sudden, things start happening without you putting in major effort. It’s just like, oh, that popped up because you’re on the path and there’s some interesting things. So I hope that answered your question.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh, no, that answered my question, beautifully. Thank you so much.
I have to say, as your book is about to launch now, you’re probably familiar with the term break a leg for stage, et cetera, et cetera, but you may not be familiar with the term I’m trying to get into popular parlance for authors is, break a spine. Because that means someone’s reading the book, right? Break the spine. So I hope you break a spine on the 24th with Laws of Annihilation and all. Best wishes on that. Eric, please let people know where they can find you online.
Eriq La Salle: I’m on social. I’m Eric LaSalle on Instagram. I’m on Facebook. Everything’s under my name, on TikTok, so everything is under my name. Every once in a while, you have to sort of get past the imposters, because every once in a while, an imposter comes along. But you can tell, I’m verified, I’m you know, all of that on all of it so yeah Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok those are my main ones.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Great. And we’ll have links to that over on the show notes.
Eriq La Salle: And oh yes, of course, Twitter. Formerly Twitter, X. Yeah, I’m on the four majors, and under my name, verified on each account, so that’s how you know it’s me.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: And it’s Eric with a Q. Eriq La Salle.
Eriq La Salle: Yes. E. R. I. Q. Yes.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Awesome. Eriq, thanks for hanging out with me today.Eriq La Salle: Hey, thanks for having me. This was awesome. And really, appreciate it. And look forward to seeing it. Great. Thank you.