Writing the Sunshine Affair series was one of the most difficult undertakings I've had as a writer. Now, writing isn't new to me but writing the type of story that fell in front of my keyboard was. As a writer the three things I look for in any story are realism, a compelling plot, and the main character(s) motivation. When Eric came to me and said, "Here. I think you're the person to tell my story" all three of those elements and more were suddenly in front of me. What Eric had given to me out of the blue were the journals he kept during a secret affair he had over the course of years. This was an affair of which no one knew.
I read Eric's journals. Page after page of his handwritten jotting revealed his thoughts, feelings, and actions...some of which were shocking to me. He put everything is exquisitely defined detail, making me feel as though I were standing next to him as everything unfolded. I felt as though I was finding out what was happening the same moment he was. It took me almost a year to read the secret life he led. During this time I had to decide if I could write the story or if Eric's belief in my writing abilities had been misplaced. It didn't take me long to decide. This was a story I could not pass up telling. I told Eric I would do my best to do his and Tina's story justice.
As much as I loved writing the series, it was not without its challenges. Now, Eric made made task much easier because of his painstaking detail, especially the dialog. 95% of what you read in the Sunshine series actually happened or said. I didn't have to make up the conversations because what Eric recorded in his writings was far better than most writers could make up. The candidness and vivid specifics stood up on their own. My challenge was to not just throw in quotation after quotation of conversation but to really set the scene around those conversations. It's important for the readers to not only be part of the conversation but to put them in the room with Eric and Tina by including facial expressions, body language, and mannerisms.
My strategy in writing the Sunshine Affair series was to stay as true as I could to the diary format to help move the relationship and readers through time as smoothly as possible. The diary format was also used as a tool for people to get in Eric's head and provide a perspective so that we're learning as he's learning, we're surprised as he's surprised, and so on. And that's where I got and stayed awhile - in Eric's head. And it was tougher to get out of than I thought.
We've all had moments when we've wanted to get in someone's head and find out what they're really thinking at a given moment, to know what makes them tick. Prepping and writing the Sunshine Affair series put me squarely in Eric's head. It wasn't that the story sucked me in and wouldn't let go, it was the pondering of why Eric would throw away his entire belief system for Tina, why he did so many things he had told me for years he would never do, how he could keep all of this inside him for so long and not tell anyone. I've never asked Eric directly because part of me doesn't want to know and part of me thinks Eric still doesn't know.
What I can tell you is the Sunshine Affair series is some of the best writing I've ever done and one of the most compelling stories I've ever heard, read, or written about. My hope is that, in the end, I have done Eric and Tina's story justice. But that's not for me to decide.
I invite you to get in Eric's head by checking out book one: Sunshine: Diary of An Affair by clicking on the link. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B29ALUC
- E.J. Caulder
Eric Simmons is one of the two essential figures of the Sunshine Affair series. Simmons gave his journals to E.J. Caulder to turn his real-life experiences into a novelized version of the events Simmons lived. Both men to provide their insight on the Sunshine Affair series from their unique perspectives.