© 2532 Jonathan Michael Erickson

My Story

(The Long Version)

Here is a longer, rawer version of who I am:

I've been a writer for about as long as I can remember.  I think my first attempt at writing a novel was in 5th grade with a fantasy adventure about a young man whose parents are killed by marauding monsters.  It was meant to be the beginning of an epic quest, but I only wrote three chapters before the notebook I was writing it in vanished mysteriously. 

 

I got completely swept up in the thrill of live theatre as a teenager and started turning my creative efforts towards writing plays, many of which were eventually staged as student productions at UC Berkeley.  Also, as a kid who grew up next door to Hollywood, I became an enthusiast for writing screenplays.  My dream in those days was to become a film-maker.

Photo by Rob Corpuz

I was so passionate about writing, producing and acting in plays that I became a bit of a big fish in the Berkeley theatre department. Perhaps it was inevitable that a few years later, when I made it to New York, I was in for a big let down.  Like so many starry-eyed artists before me, I was a bit shell-shocked at how little my lofty liberal arts education counted when it came to funding a starving artist lifestyle.  I spent years working as a waiter, an office temp, a street promoter, theatre crew, and later on as a digital film editor and script supervisor.  All good learning experiences; grist for the mill.

I was a big mystic and a hopeless idealist in those days.  I really believed that art and writing could change the world.  It was confusing for me as a young man to see the degree to which the world was driven by profit rather than by a collective effort to improve the lives of everyone.  Why shouldn't we work together be happy?

I came out of Berkeley with the conviction that humans collectively already have everything they need to solve the worlds problems ... and I couldn't understand why we weren't all working together to make that happen.  You can call it youthful naïveté if you want, but when I think about it, I still find it kind of confusing.

But c'est la vie.  In New York, I ended up writing, producing and directing two feature length films on shoetring budgets, and later moved back to Los Angeles and co-produced and directed a third feature written by a friend.  I didn't know a damn thing about marketing, and the consensus seemed to be that my films were too intellectual and esoteric for most folks. None of the films were distributed and I lost a ridiculous amount of money.

Then the economy tanked in 2009 and I couldn't even find work waiting tables!  So I decided it was time to take a deep breath and let go and see what else the world had in store.  I drifted to the Esalen Institute (a human potential center in Big Sur, CA) and started to do some serious inner work, and also get certified as a massage therapist. Working as a massage therapist allowed me to earn decent living while also giving me a professional outlet for my inborn drive to nurture and care for others.  Soon after I became a yoga teacher as well.

Volunteering as a massage therapist with disabled children in Vietnam in 2014

I never stopped writing.  I kept accruing screenplays and essays, but more importantly, I started writing novels.  My first completed novel was an adaptation of one of my films.  But that still felt a bit too esoteric and intellectual.  So in late 2009, I decided I would start something brand new - something that was fun.  I wanted to write a book that thrilled me as a reader, even as I was writing it.  That project turned into Relics of Andromeda, which I worked on intermittently for four years.  At that point it was clear that I had at least a trilogy on my hands, and perhaps much more.  The second volume, Labyrinths of Time, was completed in late 2015.  As the world and characters within the novels continued to expand, I began writing short stories to further explore and detail the universe that was emerging.

In the meantime, the intellectual in me was not completely satisfied with massage therapy, and so in 2012, I went back to grad school for my PhD in depth psychology and somatics. In addition to learning all about human psychology and developing rigorous research skills, studying depth psychology was an invitation to take a deep dive into my own unconscious mind and continue the inner work I began at Esalen.  My doctoral dissertation focused on human imagination from both neurobiological and humanistic perspectives, and was ultimately developed into a book, Imagination in the Western Psyche: From Ancient Greece to Modern Neuroscience, which will be available summer 2019.

My PhD fieldwork project was to study the way humans and elephants communicate with each other at an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia in 2015

Shortly after graduating in 2018, I was offered a post-doctoral fellowship a my school, Pacifica Graduate Institute, which has been an incredible opportunity to teach and advise students at the graduate level.

With my own grad-school journey behind me, I'm excited to finally have the time and energy to get my books out into the world.  I love science fiction because it's such a great medium to explore human potentials, for good and for ill.  Beyond the Relics of Andromeda series, I look forward to writing future novels in other genres as well as following up Imagination in the Western Psyche with other non-fiction books on psychology and culture.

In 2017, I escaped Los Angeles and moved to Portland, Oregon.  After spending most of my life in a severe drought, I was ready to live somewhere lush and rainy.  As a nature lover, the natural abundance of Oregon is breathtaking, and the quirky, creative culture of Portland is a great fit for my own eclectic interests.

I want to offer great gratitude, love and respect to all of my readers - I'm honored by your interest and I couldn't do it without you!

Hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim with my father in 2017