#257 – Crowdsourcing an Adaptation with Eric Maikranz

Author Eric Maikranz joins us on the podcast this week to talk to us about his book, The Reincarnationist Papers, and the unique approach he took in order to secure a film adaptation of his book.

Author Eric Maikranz joins us on the podcast this week to talk to us about his book, The Reincarnationist Papers, and the unique approach he took in order to secure a film adaptation of his book. Eric also talks to us about the differences between his indie and traditional publishing experiences, what the research process was like for his book, and he tells us his favourite reincarnation story.

  • Eric talks about his varied career path, from radio talk show host to working in IT to tour guide in Rome, and he shares his best Italian vacation recommendations
  • He tells us about his debut novel, The Reincarnationist Papers, what his publishing journey has been like, and he shares the unique way he went about securing a movie deal for his book and the incredible story of how it worked
  • The Reincarnationist Papers takes place during many different moments of human history, and Eric tells us what his research process was like and how he decided what time periods to include in his novel
  • Eric published The Reincarnationist Papers both independently and traditionally and he tells us the differences between both processes and what he learned about publishing through these experiences
  • He talks about the film option and adaptation process, what his involvement was like, and he gives us a sneak peek into what’s next for his series
  • Eric tells us about his favourite reader reincarnation story, and he shares the memories that first inspired the plot of The Reincarnationist Papers

Useful Links

Eric’s Website
Follow Eric on Twitter and Facebook
The Reincarnationist Papers
Insider’s Rome and Venice
Altered Carbon
The Nickel Boys
A Hero of Our Time
The Master and Margarita
Umberto Eco
Cormac McCarthy
Fight Club

D. Eric Maikranz has had a multitude of lives in this lifetime. As a world traveler, he was a foreign correspondent while living in Rome, translated for relief doctors in Nicaragua during a cholera epidemic, and was once forcibly expelled from the nation of Laos. He has worked as a tour guide, a radio host, a bouncer, and as a Silicon Valley software executive. The Reincarnationist Papers is his first novel, which has been adapted into the Paramount Pictures film, INFINITE. 

Eric now lives in Colorado.

Episode Transcript

Transcription provided by Speechpad

Rachel: Hi, writers. Welcome to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast,” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your co-hosts. I’m Rachel, the author engagement coordinator at Kobo Writing Life.

Joni: And I’m Joni, author engagement specialist at Kobo Writing Life. On today’s episode, we spoke to Eric Maikranz, who is an independent and, well, hybrid author, who writes a lot about reincarnation, which is appropriate, because he’s done many different things in his life. He has lived in multiple different countries, he’s worked as a tour guide, a radio host, a bouncer, and now a Silicon Valley executive and author.

Rachel: We spoke to Eric about his debut novel, “The Reincarnationist Papers,” and the unique method he used to secure a movie deal for his book. That movie is “Infinite,” coming out this summer. We also spoke to Eric about his different experiences, self-publishing his book about 12 years ago, and re-releasing it with a traditional publisher this spring. And we spoke to him about the coolest reincarnation stories that he’s heard. So, here is the interview. We hope you enjoy.

Joni: We’re excited to be joined today by Eric Maikranz, the author of “The Reincarnationist Papers.” Thank you so much for joining us. Could you start by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Eric: Yeah, so, I’m Eric Maikranz. In my day job, and because a lot of us that write, are authors, still have a day job, although I’m on sabbatical for another six months, my day job is in IT. I work at the Oracle Corporation, which is database, business software, Larry Ellison, fifth richest person in the world. That Oracle. And I’ve worked there for 20 years on and off, mostly in product development. And I’ve written this book, and the sequel to it, actually, which should be out sometime next year, I would think, in the mornings. I’m one of those people that gets up very early in the morning in order to sort of protect a bit of time for myself to do my own creative work. And then, starting at eight, nine o’clock, you know, that’s when Oracle gets my time for the rest of the day. And that’s how I was able to write and keep a full-time job. I think, you know, not that I’m comparing myself to one of the most successful authors ever, but I think that’s what James Patterson did for the early part of his career, when he was in marketing and a marketing executive. I think he stayed working for a long time until his career really took off.

So, that’s my day job. In addition to that, I’ve actually had a really diverse career before that. I was a radio talk show host. I used to write articles for “The Denver Post.” I was a correspondent when I lived in Rome for two years, and I was a tour guide there, and actually met another writer when I was there, who introduced me to his publisher, and I was able to publish two travel guides for Italy when I lived there. That was super cool. Then I’ve done a lot of travelling. My job affords me a lot of travel, and when I lived in Europe, I was able to travel extensively.

Rachel: Do you have a must-see recommendation for Italy, just for when travel opens again? I’m just curious.

Eric: Yeah. I have a couple. So, there’s one that’s, should be on everybody’s list, and it’s Venice. If you’ve never been to Venice, you should go to Venice. It really does look like… you know, it looks like something that Walt Disney would have come up with, right? It just looks so otherworldly. And with no cars, it’s just such a different, tranquil experience. The Italians call it [foreign language 00:03:34], the most serene. Definitely, Venice. The other one that is not on everybody’s list is in Tuscany, but it’s not Florence, it’s Siena. And if you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t been to Siena, it’s one of the best food towns in Italy, and it is just sort of quintessential Tuscan time capsule.

Joni: Yeah, it’s lovely. I spent a year in Arezzo, which is just around the corner, and then…

Eric: Oh, yeah.

Joni: Yeah, and I also studied at the university in Verona for a year, so around the corner from Venice. So, yeah…

Erick: That’s right.

Joni: …it’s, definitely second those recommendations. There’s so much to see.

Eric: So, I have a funny story about Verona. So, I travelled to 60-something countries, mostly as a backpacker. And in all of that time, I only spent one night sleeping outside because I could not find a place to sleep, and that was in Verona.

Joni: No way. Where did you sleep, in the end?

Eric: I slept in the park, right in front of the old amphitheater, because I had travelled there to see Carmen Graves sing…or, Denyce Graves, sing “Carmen” there. And the place was absolutely mad, it was so packed. And so, I had to sleep in that park, right there.

Joni: Wow. I saw “Carmen” in the arena. You could have maybe slept under the arches. That’s what I was picturing. It’s kind of sheltered.

Eric: Right. But I guess it was in the summer, and it wasn’t raining.

Joni: Yeah, no, Verona is crazy during that season. I thought it was interesting the fact that your book kind of deals with resurrection and reincarnation, and how many different career paths you seem to have done and how many almost past lives that you’ve had.

Eric: Well, yeah, there is a bit of a parallel there, but it’s not really specific to me. It ends up being specific to almost everybody. I am maybe an extreme case, in that, you know, I’ve worked in finance, I’ve worked in IT, I’ve been a radio talk show host, and a tour guide, and now a novelist. But when we think of reincarnation, when we think of past lives, it’s really easy to think about that, oh, well, that was in the, you know, 20th century. That was in the 19th century, that was in the 18th century. It’s really easy to think about past lives as being distant things. But we all end up living different lives in our life now. We’re children, we’re students, we’re workers, we’re parents, we’re grandparents. Hopefully, we make it to be retirees.

And at each one of those different phases in your life, you sort of reap the benefits of what you did in the previous life. Like, when you start your working career, you typically leverage the things that you learned when you were a student. And so, you pay that forward to yourself as sort of like the benefits of a past life. I have this quote on my desk that I have had on my desk for years when I was writing the novel, and when I was editing it, and when I’m writing the second one. And it really encapsulates this perfectly. It’s from a 19th-century American spiritualist, Fredric Henry Hedge, and it says, “Every man is his own ancestor, and every man, his own heir. He devises his own future, and he inherits his own past.”

So, for me, when I went to university, I actually didn’t study. I studied a little bit of computer science, but I studied Russian language and literature. So, my literary background is sort of the Russian giants. And that equipped me to write a big 430-page novel, right? I didn’t do that right out of college, but that training, that experience in that past life, I sort of gave that to the, you know, to the 40-year-old Eric, when he was writing this book, and so that’s sort of an inheritance. So, in a way, I might be an extreme case in that I’ve had a lot of different experiences in my life, but I think most of us are like that. And I think it’s getting more and more like that, where, you know, we don’t typically go and work at a company for 20, 30 years and retire. We tend to work in this industry and then that industry, and then a merging of the two industries, and then we’ve got gigs on the side. So I think a lot of us are getting a little more diverse in how we live our lives, and those lives tend to, in my mind, those lives, we tend to live sequentially, in this one lifetime. So, a very long-winded answer, Joni, but I hope that makes sense.

Joni: Yeah, definitely. Can you tell us a little bit about the research process? Because you cover a lot of different points throughout human history, and I’m just curious about, was there a lot of research involved, and how do you approach that?

Eric: There is a lot of research involved. And for those Kobo listeners who haven’t read the book, the book is… I should probably do this as sort of a brief preface. The book is about a young man who is troubled by memories of two past lives. And when I say memories of two past lives, complete memories. Skills, experiences, languages, everything. And he thinks that he’s alone in this world, and lives a very solitary existence until he accidentally stumbles upon a secret society of others like him, a centuries-old secret society, people who remember all of the details from their past lives. And most of these characters are actually centuries old. So they’ve lived over and over and over multiple lives.

So, this gives me, as the author, a very long timeline to be able to develop these characters and to put them in different historical situations. So that’s where the big, heavy lifting on the research came in, Joni. In that, when I wanted to place two characters in the American Southwest, as part of a Spanish conquistador expedition, you know, I had to do a ton of research on Coronado and his expedition. And then… and because I wanted all the historical flashbacks, and there are three or four historical flashbacks in the book, where we go back in time and get to develop those characters, and then see some of those traits, some of those qualities, some of those faults in the modern-day version after they’ve reincarnated several times. I wanted the research to be as good as possible, because I don’t know about you, Rachel and Joni, but when I read a book and I can see that it’s a little thin on the research, I just…it makes me question other things in the book. And I just didn’t want to do that. I didn’t want the book to come up short in any reader’s mind when they were reading it, because of just a lack of basic research. So, I ended up reading a lot, and I ended up reading a lot on history, and I ended up using about a third of it, of all that I’d research, end up using it in a book, sometime.

Rachel: It definitely read very thoroughly researched. I was curious, did you have certain time periods in mind when you kind of were developing these characters originally, and then you went to research them, or do you kind of have, like, a grasp on history, and you’re like, “Okay, I’m gonna research first, find something interesting, and then put my characters there.”

Eric: Yeah. And, Rachel, it’s a brilliant question, because it’s actually a combination of both. There are a handful of historical things that I want to attach to. And then from there, I sort of think through the catalog of the reincarnationist, to see, oh, okay, who would make sense to put in that timeline to do that, you know, action X, that builds character development Y, and then plotline Z, right? But then there are others when I really fall in love with, like, this, like, really weird, quirky thing. Like, this is something that I actually have in mind for the next book, is, there was a samurai in Japan, but he was a Black man. And you’re like, “Wait, what? How could that be?” But when you research and you find that it’s real right? There isn’t a whole lot of history about this gentleman, but, in my mind, that becomes sort of the perfect character that I could take out of the reincarnationist roster and say, “Oh, this was a person who had a legacy in feudal Japan, was reincarnated in a different place, in a different body, and wanted to go home, right?

So, there are some unique things like that, where, just like the historical things line up, and just, like, “Okay, I have to jump on that, I have to do that.” And then there are others where I know where I want to take the character in a certain way, and so I have to give them some background in a certain industry, like Poppy and glass, for instance. So then, you know, you go all the way back to Palace of Versailles, and the hall of mirrors, you go all the way back to Murano and the monopoly that they had on the blown glass industry. So, spoiler alert. Those are two flashbacks. But yeah, so, as to answer your question, Rachel, it works both ways.

Joni: So, you mentioned at the beginning that you had originally published “The Reincarnationist Papers” yourself. But you did something kind of unusual. Can you explain to our listeners what you had done with that book?

Eric: Yeah, I can, Joni. So, in 2008, I’d finished what I thought at that time was the final draft. Once you work with a traditional publisher, you find out that there’s a lot more editing that’s required. And that was one of the things that I learned on this journey. But when I finished the final edit for the self-published edition in 2008, I tried to take the book out and get it published traditionally with… you know, by trying to get an agent who would represent me, and then, you know, try to pitch it to the different publishers, and then take their commission on it. And everybody liked the book, but they had a hard time envisioning how they would pitch it and how they would sell it. So, eventually, all of those things sort of fell through.

And so, I decided that I would self-publish the book. And one of the reasons why is because everybody that read the book really loved it. They said, “Oh my God, this is so good. I want to read another one. Please continue writing in this series.” And they would tell their friends. And so, I decided that I wanted to self-publish the book, and I did, but I borrowed a lesson from my day job at Oracle. One of the things that we do at Oracle is we work with the end-users or the customers that we have, and we collaborate with them in a very open way around developing software programs, for instance. And technically, the IT, Silicon Valley-speak for this is “crowdsourcing.” And this is where you define a goal of something that you want to accomplish, and you ask for the end users’ help, to say, “Hey, would you like this product to work this way, or this way? Give us your thoughts, try working on this.” And then, we go back and we rebuild it again.

Couple of great examples of this crowdsourcing are Wikipedia, right? Wikipedia, we all have a common goal of the best encyclopedia ever, and we all work on it. We all peer review each other’s work. Another one is Linux operating system, which is a bit techie and geeky, but it’s all written by developers. It’s not owned by Microsoft or Oracle or anybody like that. So, what I did is I married those two lessons together, that my readers liked the book, and that there had to be a way that I could engage them to help me get the book to a wider audience.

So what I did, I put a reward on the first page of the book, and the reward was basically an open call to action to anybody that read the book. “Hey, if you read this book, and you love this book, if you introduce this book to anybody in Hollywood, or any publisher in New York that sees this go to a wider release, I will give you 10% of any of the advance that I get, as soon as the check clears the bank.” Basically, you know, I was already ready to pay an agent’s commission to help me get the introduction to the Hollywood producer that would make the movie. Why not empower my readers to be agents for me? And that was sort of the crowdsourcing spirit of it. And it seems like the zaniest, craziest idea in the world, Joni, right up until it works…

Joni: Genius.

Eric: … and when it works, you look like a genius. And the thing is, it did work. What I… you know, I thought that it could work, which is why I tried it, and I hoped that it would work. But what I didn’t realize is how far this message would travel, and that this basically empowered, you know, all of my early readers into being an army of agents. Now, the book was actually discovered by an assistant to a Hollywood director, who was travelling in Asia, and he found a copy of “The Reincarnationist Papers” in a hostel in Nepal…

Joni: That’s too good.

Eric: …and he… it’s too good, you couldn’t script it. They wouldn’t believe it, right? So, he picked up the book, and he read it, and he loved it. And he sent me an email on Thanksgiving Day 2010. So, it’s about a year and a half after I self-published the book. And it was a great email. I just pulled up the email last week, for inclusion in a little short video that Blackstone Publishing did. You can actually see it there on blackstonepublishing.com. That, he said, “Hey, I just read this book. Is this reward still available? Because this is totally a movie. I can totally get this made into a movie.” And he was fresh out of college and just getting started in the industry, but he was looking for a project to get really passionate about. And I’m so lucky that he chose mine.

So, this guy’s name was Rafi, and Rafi just never quit on this. Rafi took it to Imagine Entertainment, he took it to Crackle, he took it to, I think it landed at Warner Brothers for a while. And, you know, this is not unusual, right? Projects start and then they stop, and then they start somewhere else and they stop. But Rafi never gave up. And it eventually, through Rafi’s efforts, he worked on this for seven years, it eventually got picked up by Paramount. And they adapted it into the motion picture “Infinite,” that will be in theaters and streaming on Paramount Plus this summer, starring Mark Wahlberg, Dylan O’Brien, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Toby Jones. My gosh, it’s got an amazing cast.

Rachel: I was gonna say, that’s a stacked cast.

Eric: It’s a stacked cast. And so, that’s how I went from self-publishing to the big screen with Paramount, is, I just, I did a combination a couple of things. I trusted readers. Yeah, you know, the readers are… they get discounted in the publishing industry, but readers are the most important people in publishing. They will determine what’s good or not, they’ll determine what sells or not, and I trusted them, and then, I really trusted them to take the message out to the world, and it worked.

Joni: I just think that’s such a great story, especially the fact that he found it in a hostel and he was right there, that…it’s just very good.

Rachel: And it works perfectly for how… like, I don’t want to spoil anything about the book, but about how the book itself works. It’s the perfect story for the story in the book.

Eric: It is, right? It is.

Joni: Yep. You could not have engineered this better.

Eric: I know. I know. People wouldn’t have believed it if you had written it as a script.

Rachel: What was your involvement? Like, after Rafi found the book, what was your involvement in getting the film optioned? Did you have any involvement? Did you have any say in the adaptation process?

Eric: Yeah, these are great questions. I didn’t have a lot of involvement in the option process. You know, I was given an option by Bellevue Productions and John Zaozirny, who’s the head of Bellevue Productions. He read the book, loved the book. I actually thought that it was very similar to “Altered Carbon,” which was made into that really, a pretty good Netflix series as well, where, you know, human consciousness transcends physical bodies, right, with the stack, in “Altered Carbon.” So, he thought that this had some similarities to that, and that’s what he saw in it to make it a movie. And then, he offered me the first option on it. And then he found a screenwriter who would write this, the adapted screenplay, and that’s Ian Shore. And Ian and John and Rafi and I talked a couple of times around where the book is going after this one, and where the overall story arc and franchise goes. And that was about all you needed to create “Infinite,” you know, and then, obviously, it was a killer script, because it sold to Paramount, and it actually sold to Paramount the same day that they took it out. That’s actually another interesting story. And so, you know, that’s the input that I had, and then the rest of it I’ve just been enjoying this. And really, the thing that I’ve enjoyed most is the new friends that I’ve made in Raf Crohn, John Zaozirny, and Ian Shore, as, through this process.

Joni: So, you mentioned talking about the editing process. I’m curious, since you self-published, how have you found dealing with a traditional publisher? Like, what’s different? What have you learned? What kind of differences did you notice?

Eric: Yeah, this has been a really interesting journey for me, and I’m really glad that I went on it. I’m a huge fan of both modes of publishing. I’m a huge fan of self-publishing, and I really appreciate the platforms like Kobo that support that, but I’d always wanted to be traditionally published. And, you know, there are some trade-offs on both sides. Couple of the things that I learned in the traditional publishing path are really how much editing is required to make a commercial book, like, as good as the other books on the shelf next to it. I thought that I had, you know, edited the book pretty well, but if I look back now from my starting manuscript until the end… And we didn’t really change a lot of plot or character development. This was just basic grammar and punctuation… Yeah, it’s alarming how many typos and errors snuck out in that self-published edition.

And then, number two is the overall production quality of the book. The layout, the typeface, the cover design. One of the things that I know, and I remember this, because I was still self-published as recently as just two years ago, self-publishing, people want to get…people want, authors want a book that stands up to the other books on the shelf that would be in any bookstore. And you really, as authors, self-published authors, you really need to have another human being edit your book, because when you try to edit your own work, in my experience, you sort of build in your own blind spots, because you write the book in a certain way, and you have those flaws in your own writing style. And we all have our own flaws in our own writing styles. And then when you put on your editing hat, you’re…it’s not a different hat. It’s the same hat as the author hat. And stuff gets through because you can’t see your own errors. So, have another human being do that. This is why editing and editors are like a real thing and a real industry. I would encourage everybody that’s self-publishing to really get somebody else to edit your book.

The other thing you can do, as I’ve talked to other readers who have done the crowdsource trick with editing as well is just hand it off to, you know, 10 or 12 beta readers, and then have them mark the thing up and get it back. That can get you pretty close as well. But then, the other thing is the cover of the book. You’ve got to have a book that looks as good on the shelf next to Diana Gabaldon’s, next to James Patterson’s, next to Michael Lewis’s. Right? It’s, you can’t scrimp on that. If you have any budget at all for this, spend it on editing and on production value for the cover. And that will, you know, sort of lift you up to that traditional publishing quality, and those are the two big lessons that I’ve learned on this.

Joni: Thank you for saying that. That is exactly what I would say as well. I think that comes up quite a lot. Yeah, covers and editing. Definitely the most important. I’m curious about when you were originally writing the book, were you always writing it with a view to it being a movie eventually? Or was that something that you got from beta readers and feedback?

Eric: No, I didn’t. And I never saw it, up until the end, but when my early readers would read it, they would say, “Oh my gosh, this is totally a movie.” And I just never saw it as a movie. I think that I have a writing style that is somewhat cinematic. One thing that I’ve heard from a lot of my readers is that I really place them in the scene, and they can really see what’s going on around them when they’re reading the book and really consuming it. And so, I think that’s actually one thing that really lends itself to cinematic adaptation, is by, you know, sort of being, you know, a 5% or 10% cinematographer when you’re writing a book. But no, that wasn’t my plan, but I’m sure glad it turned out this way.

Rachel: Just kind of going back to the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing. One thing I know, like, in our experience, a lot of indie authors like is having kind of the business aspect and being able to control a lot of their marketing and whatnot when it comes to their own publishing. And in a previous interview, you spoke about the realization that business of publishing is a huge part of the process. And I was just wondering if that changed kind of your approach to writing, especially now that you are writing the second book in the series.

Eric: This is a really good question. I promise that I’ll answer this question, but I want to answer another question. I’m gonna do the old politician’s trick, which is to not answer the question that you asked but to answer the question that I…was closer to the one that I wanted you to ask, but I promise I’ll get back to that one, too. It really… This has been, actually, another, this sort of tails onto Joni’s question. This is another thing that I learned in the traditional publishing path, so far, and I’m barely into this at all, but if I have any advice to give to the self-published authors out there, this would be it, is, it really is a business, at the end of the day. Sure, it’s art, we’re entertaining folks, but publishers, the HarperCollins, the Simon & Schusters the Penguins of the world, they’re trying to make money from books. This is a business, with investors, and sometimes shareholders, that, you know, they have business demands.

And I really took my, I’m gonna say, hardcore business experience, because if you worked at the Oracle, you understand that it’s a pretty high-pressure environment most days. I took that hardcore business experience from Oracle and I brought it to my engagement with the publisher. And I had my choice between two publishers at the end of the day on this book. One was a big five, an imprint at a big five publisher. And the second was Blackstone Publishing. And I chose Blackstone because they were much more transparent with me around the marketing and the business side of books. And I was very interested in that. Obviously, I’m interested as an author, and as an artist in creating things that people enjoy, but I couldn’t just set down my business experience that I had won for 20 years, and I really wanted to be a hard-nosed business person around the business of writing. And Blackstone, with their transparency around this, has really been a big benefit to that as far as me maturing as an author/business person, or, you know, stakeholder in entertainment industry, which is what this is.

But back to your question. Has this affected the way that I write? I think this is a very dangerous thing to say yes about, but in some ways, yes, I have, because I’ve just learned what… I’ve begun to learn what works better and what doesn’t work as well. And I’m trying to sort of refine my writing, as I’m progressing in this franchise, to try to make it a little more palatable for readers, to try to make it a little more approachable for publishers and book retailers, and to try to just…what’s the word that I’m looking for, try to just make it a little more…mainstream is not the right word, because the book is not a mainstream book. It’s sort of a bit alternative in how it’s written and how it’s structured. But certainly, from the business execution side, I want it to be easily recognizable as the second book in the franchise, as the second book in a longer franchise, so that publishers know what they’re dealing with, readers know what they’re dealing with, bookstores know what they’re dealing with, things like that. So, that’s, like, one concrete way that it’s changed. You know, the rest of the ways, I hope that it doesn’t change. I hope to, like, continue my same sort of alternative, hopefully, unique voice that people like.

Rachel: And I think that’s a challenge that a lot of writers kind of face is the balance of writing exactly what you wanna write, but also writing to market, because at the end of the day, like, you do want your book to land in the hands of readers.

Eric: Yeah, I do. Yeah, but, you know, you don’t want to be… you know, if you’ve ever seen, like, some of those Hollywood movies, like “The Player” comes to mind, right? Where they’re like, “Oh, just make it like Forrest Gump, but, you know, set it in Alaska.” And just, you take two portions of this, one portion of this, and then all of a sudden you’ve gotten the next “When Harry Met Sally.” And I don’t wanna be that kind of artist.

Joni: Yeah, And the publishing industry does that too, right? They wanna play it safe. They wanna say, “We want something like this, but oh, no, we’ve already done that, so we can’t have it exactly like this. We want it safe, but a new voice.” So, yeah, it’s challenging.

Eric: It really is challenging. And it’s funny to look at the trends over time to see how, sort of, close people come to that same sort of anticipated target, where they think things are going to sell.

Joni: Do you see a time when you will be writing full-time, or do you like the way that you’re doing it now?

Eric: I would really like to be writing full-time. You know, Oracle was very gracious in giving me six months off to focus on the launch of “The Reincarnationist Papers,” and to focus on being able to support Paramount in the launch of the movie “Infinite.” And so, you know, so, I’m taking this time to actually finish the second book, which is done, but it’s in the seventh draft. And it’s in the seventh draft in the traditional publishing world, on its way to probably 20 drafts. In the self-publishing world, like, where I thought quality was in 2009, it’s probably, you know, on draft three or four. That should be a lesson that, it’s, your stuff, when you think you’re done, you’re not done. I love Walter Mosley’s quote about editing. He said, you know, you go back and you edit the book… You know, you read your last draft, you identify what’s wrong with it. And then in the next draft, you go back and fix it. And then you reread that draft. You see what’s wrong with it, and you go back and fix it. And when you get to where you read it and you see what’s wrong with it, and then you don’t know how to fix it, that’s when you’re done. That’s when the book is done.

Rachel: Without any spoilers, can you give us, like, a sneak peek about what the second book is gonna be about?

Eric: Yeah, the second book picks up with a reincarnation, one of the characters in the first book, and it takes place a little later, obviously. This, “The Reincarnationist Papers” takes place in the late 1990s. And it’s about that character coming home. And it’s also about the reconciliation and consequence of an ex-communication out of the secret society, centuries ago.

Rachel: Interesting. Vague enough to not give anything away, but I am excited to read it.

Eric: Okay, awesome.

Joni: And this is a slightly different tangent that I’m going on here, but I saw on your website that you have a section where you solicit people’s real-life reincarnation stories.

Eric: Yeah.

Joni: And we thought that was really cool. And I wondered if you have a favorite real-life reincarnation story that you’ve heard, or that someone’s told you.

Eric: So, there’s one on there that I really liked. It was about the woman who remembered being in this village, and that she… Gonna try to remember this right, because this is… The way that she wrote it, it’s actually on ericmaikranz.com. It’s posted out there. The way she wrote it is actually very cinematic. And I could really see it in my mind, in that she… The village was being attacked. And she felt… When she knew that she was outside of the city walls, like, when she could see the landmarks, like, in the city, and this is, like, in the 17th century, when she could see the landmarks inside of the city walls, and she knew that she was outside of the city walls, that’s when she knew that she was in danger, because she had been taken out of the safety of the, you know, the fortified, walled city. And just the way that she wrote that and the way that she communicated that, you really do feel the emotion that she felt in that past life recall. And that one really touched me.

Joni: Wow, it’s such a fascinating topic.

Eric: It is. Do either one of you have any memories that don’t belong to you?

Joni: No.

Rachel: I do not.

Eric: I do.

Joni: You do?

Rachel: You do?

Eric: Yeah. That was actually one of the, sort of, the starting points for the book is, yeah, I, you know, I was born in the late 1960s. Sounds like a thousand years ago at this point, but I actually have three memories that don’t belong to me, but they’re as real as any memory that I have. They seem to date from the 1940s back to the 1870s. They’re very short, like, 5 seconds to 30 seconds, but, you know, they’re as real as anything that’s ever happened to me. And it sort of makes you question, well, geez what does that mean? And I’m not a metaphysician. I’m not going to, you know, theorize on, “Well, this proves that reincarnation is real because I have these three anomalous things that happened to me.” But it actually did serve as the idea for what would it be like if not only if you remembered your past life, but you remembered every single detail, right? You remembered every language that you spoke, everything that you learned in school, every person you ever met, every skill you ever learned. And then, all you have to do is sort of add that lifetime over lifetime to have some pretty rich characters, that have a lot of skill and a lot of advantage over normal people who have, you know, a limited, you know, 60, 70, 80-year timeline.

Joni: Yeah, that’s incredible. So, just to recap, where can our listeners find you online?

Eric: So, the best place to find me online is ericmaikranz.com, my website. And that last name is, it’s E-R-I-C M-A-I-K-R-A-N-Z. And the readers need to sign up for the insider’s newsletter because there, I provide people on my newsletter with some insider content. Some of it is some additional research that I did around reincarnation, some of it is some third-party research around reincarnation. There are… there’s one hidden chapter to “The Reincarnationist Papers” that is available now, chapter 7.5, that sort of slips in right between chapters 7 and 8, but you can only get that by signing up for my newsletter on ericmaikranz.com. And I’ll also be putting out at least one more hidden chapter in “The Reincarnationist Papers,” and I’ll be putting out some sample chapters from the second book in the series on that site. I’m also on Twitter, and I’m also on Facebook.

Joni: Fantastic. And “Infinite” is out now, or it will be out in the summer?

Eric: “Infinite” is gonna be out in the summer.

Joni: Paramount Plus?

Eric: Yeah, Paramount Plus.

Joni: Perfect. Okay, so we will include links to all of those.

Eric: Yep. So, subscribe to Paramount Plus.

Joni: Perfect. And can we finish off with some rapid-fire questions about books that you’ve enjoyed?

Eric: Absolutely.

Joni: Give this a try? Awesome. Rachel, do you want to kick it off?

Rachel: Definitely. Okay, first up, what is the most recent book that you’ve enjoyed?

Eric: “The Nickel Boys,” by Colson Whitehead.

Rachel: It’s a good one.

Eric: It is. But a bit tough, but good. I just… I love his work. He’s the best American writer going, and that’s… Even Cormac McCarthy might agree with that.

Joni: I think he visited Kobo before I started there. We missed that Rach.

Eric: Do what?

Joni: He visited the Kobo office just…

Eric: Oh, wow.

Joni: …[crosstalk 00:37:30] launch. I think it was to launch “The Nickel Boys,” but we didn’t work there then, so we missed it.

Eric: Oh, okay.

Joni: And your all-time favorite book?

Eric: My all-time favorite book is one of those Russian books that I studied at university. It’s called “A Hero of

Our Time,” by Mikhail Lermontov. Followed very closely by “The Master and Margarita,” by Bulgakov.

Rachel: Is there a specific book or even an author that inspired you to become a writer?

Eric: No, not to become a writer. There are books that inspire me to become a better writer, and to really improve my game. Whitehead’s one of them. Umberto Eco is another that really, you know, when I read his stuff, I’m like, “Oh man, I wanna be there, right? I wanna be able to do that.” Cormac McCarthy’s another one. I read his stuff, I’m just like, “Oh my gosh. This guy’s a magician. I wish I could do this.”

Joni: And finally, your favorite book-to-movie adaptation.

Eric: Fight Club.

Joni: Awesome.

Eric: It’s such a good book, but it’s such a good movie, too. Like, it really captured it.

Joni: It’s true. It’s a classic.

Eric: Yeah.

Joni: Awesome. Love getting new book recommendations also, so we’ll include all of these, and we’ll include your link to your book. And do we know when book two’s coming out, or we’re not quite there yet?

Eric: It’s likely 2022.

Joni: Perfect. All right. Thank you so much for coming on. This has been great.

Eric: This has been great. Thank you so much for having me, Joni and Rachel, and thanks to everybody that listens to the Kobo podcast. Been my pleasure to spend some time with you.

Rachel: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you’re interested in purchasing “The Reincarnationist Papers,” or sharing your reincarnation story with Eric, we will have links to both the book and his website on the blog. And for extra tips on how to grow your self-publishing business, visit kobowritinglife.com.

Joni: This episode was produced by Rachel Wharton and Joni Di Placido. Editing is done by Kelly Rowbotham. Music is provided by Tearjerker. Big thanks to Eric for being a guest on our podcast. If you’re ready to start your self-publishing journey, sign up for free at kobo.com/writinglife. Until next time, happy writing.

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