Eric Bishop is a thriller author with a penchant for travel. Although born in Connecticut, his life has been spent living on both east and west coasts, and he now lives in South Carolina. His debut novel, THE BODY MAN, was released today and has been called a "fantastic thriller" and a "phenomenal debut novel." Eric has been gracious enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions.
MB: Let's kick things off with a simple question. For those of us who are not familiar with the term, what is a "body man?"
EB: The first time I heard the term was in reference to President Obama. He had a man who worked in his administration, Reggie Love, whom the media dubbed The Body Man. What did he or did he not do for the President? To me it really didn’t matter, the term stuck with me and when I needed a new book idea the term came back to me. I decided to take the title “The Body Man” and put my own unique spin on it. Is there really a person in the White House with the responsibilities described in my novel? I’ll never tell, but I guarantee the truth would surprise most people.
MB: Your book, THE BODY MAN, is a political thriller about the abduction of perhaps the most important body man in the country. Tell us a bit about the book.
EB: Who protects the life of the President? The Secret Service. Who protects the secrets of the Presidency? The Body Man. And he’s vanished without a trace. In a town that’s obsessed with dark secrets, where the currency of power is information, the White House has kept a huge secret for decades. The Body Man has been a unique protector of the office since the days of JFK. When the current Body Man is abducted in a brazen attack; FBI Special Agent Eli Payne and probationary Agent Kat Stone discover nothing is as it seems as they attempt to track down the Body Man while they bring his abductors to justice. The clock is ticking, and the chess pieces are in motion. Who will make a deadly wrong move, and how deep do the secrets of Washington really go?
MB: Everyone knows that Washington is full of secrets, including details related to the FBI investigative procedures, the President's Secret Service detail, and even the secrets of the White House itself. Talk a bit about the research you did to make our novel as accurate as possible. And how much of the detail in the book did you have to make up because of the classified nature of the many elements in the book?
EB: What I made up versus what is factual, I’ll never tell. I will say truth truly is stranger than fiction. The book heavily involves the FBI and US Secret Service; and while I did not work with/for either organization I used various books and online resources to create the narrative. I actually graduated from the FBI Citizens Academy but not until after I finished an early draft. It did allow me to go back and tweak certain parts of the book. As for the US Secret Service component I did have the manuscript reviewed by a former agent, and he didn’t hate it. So there’s that. How accurate it was or was not he would not say. Of course, I took some creative liberties but that’s because like the Body Man I took a vow to protect the Office of the President.
MB: Just as movies have deleted scenes, books have bits that get deleted during the editing process. In THE BODY MAN, was there anything that didn't make it into the book that you hoped would?
EB: I created a lot of backstories for the role of the Body Man. Who was the first Body Man, and why did the role begin under the administration of JFK? I would have liked to include some more of the history behind the role, but it would have slowed down the narrative. Fortunately, the future novels will weave backstory items into the non-stop action.
MB: Speaking of movies, if THE BODY MAN was made into a movie, who would you want to play your protagonists, Eli Payne and Kat Stone?
EB: Honestly, I don’t really put efforts into who would play my characters in a cinematic version. And while I’d love to have Hollywood take an interest and buy the rights I think I’ll let them do their thing and cast the movie or series. Of course, if they want my opinion, I’ll be glad to offer it at the right time.
MB: Let's chat about writing for a moment. Every writer has their own specific nuances when it comes to writing. Some have a special place set aside for writing. Some outline their plot, while others "fly by the seat of their pants." Tell us about your writing process.
EB: For years I was completely a pantser. But as time passed I’ve started to employ more elements of plotting. I’ve traveled a lot for work (at least pre-covid) and learned to write just about anywhere at anytime. I actually finished my first novel in 2014 while in Yosemite. That moment of completion while surrounded by God’s majesty will go down as being my most powerful writing memory in my lifetime. I don’t believe there’s a simple formula to write, and what works for one person is a horrible process for another. That’s what makes writing such an enigma. The only thing I would tell anyone who starts a project and thinks they want to write a book is this, NEVER QUIT. If you start a project finish it, whether it takes you weeks, months or years. Don’t finish the writing for others, do it for yourself. The sense of accomplishment will overwhelm the pain and discomfort many feel when they put words to paper.
MB: Give me a list of your top three all-time favorite books and how have they influenced your writing?
EB: It’s hard to pick three books, and even tag them as favorites. It’s like picking which of your kids you love the most (pro hint: it’s the kid who’s asking you the question at that very moment). I write thrillers because of Tom Clancy. Honestly, none of the books stand out above the others. But I fell in love with thrillers because of Tom, and I only wish I had the chance to tell him face to face now that I’ve become an author myself. My love of history came from reading Stephen Ambrose and BAND OF BROTHERS had a huge influence on me. Third would be William Shakespeare, his complete works moved me and I started my writing journey while in college writing of all things, poetry. Mainly that was thanks to Shakespeare, even though what I wrote in no way mirrored his works.
MB: What can we expect from you in the future? Are you working on any new projects?
EB: I’ve currently got three writing projects in various stages. My primary focus is the follow up novel to THE BODY MAN, that book is tentatively titled BREACH OF TRUST. Since I’m under contract for two sequels I’m pretty sure my publisher Force Poseidon wants to hear I’m working faithfully on BREACH OF TRUST. So .. of course I am. However, I have two other books I’ve started. One is in very early stages and it’s called THE 29 CLUB. It’s actually a book for my dad, the person who got me started reading thrillers when I was a teenager. He is the President of the 29 Club and I told him one day I’d write a book for him. The third book is a stand alone book that follows a female assassin targeting one the most powerful people in the country. But things are rarely as they seem and when this assassin is required to break her only “moral standard” she rebuffs her powerful employer and the huntress quickly becomes the hunted. It will be a real nail biter with global consequences.
Thanks for talking to me, and good luck with THE BODY MAN.
You can purchase THE BODY MAN at these retailers.