ERICH B. ANDERSON is a freelance writer with a B.A. in history and anthropology from Northern Illinois University and a member of the Authors Guild. He has written numerous articles for History Today, Military History Monthly, Ancient Warfare, Medieval Warfare, Minerva, KMT, Strategy & Tactics, Military Heritage, All About History, History of War, Archaeological Diggings, History Magazine, Ancient Egypt, Renaissance and Katsujinken. He lives in Chicago.
1. What is your favorite time period to write about?
While I am a huge fan of anything ancient or medieval, from the Iron Age to 1600 AD, my favorite time period is from the late Republican to the early Imperial era of Roman history (roughly the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD). For my magazine articles and my book, however, I’ve tried to cover subjects that are rarely written about or haven’t had much recent coverage. This means that I do not often write about my favorite era, since it has been written about extensively by many other historians. That being said, parts of Cataphracts and some of my articles cover the period, such as ones about Julius Caesar’s North African campaign and his alliance with the mercenary captain Publius Sittius.
2. What kind of research do you do, and how much research do you do before you begin writing?
As a member of both the Pritzker Military Library and the Northern Illinois University Library, I have access to any primary or secondary source I need, especially since I can request books throughout the rest of the country. I also have access to JSTOR for academic journals. I use at least five or six sources to write magazine articles, but for my book that number increased significantly. I read major portions of more than 30 primary sources, and I used more than 40 books and journal articles as well. I gradually researched over a period of three years and then wrote full-time for over five months until the manuscript of Cataphracts was completed.
3. How did you become interested in military history?
My deep fascination with ancient and medieval military history began for the most part during my first two years of high school. What initially sparked my interest was the release of Gladiator in 2000. It’s my favorite movie of all time. But it was a world history course in my sophomore year that made me realize how much I loved the subject. A humanities trip to Rome, Pompeii, Florence, and Naples during my junior year of high school increased my fascination with Roman history and led me toward a bachelor’s degree in both archaeology and history from Northern Illinois University.
4. Did growing up in the Chicago area have an effect on your interests or your writing?
Unfortunately, I grew up and still live thousands of miles away from the regions I am most interested in. Therefore, the areas I have lived in have had little effect on my interest in history. On the other hand, Chicago is home to three amazing museums with ancient and medieval artifacts—The Art Institute, The Field Museum of Natural History, and The Oriental Institute— that I love to visit and explore. Plus, since I do not work at an office, I really enjoy finding places to write downtown and throughout the city when I am not working from home.
5. What did you edit out of the book?
Very little was edited out as the book is not very long at 188 pages. My editor and I did make changes during the editing process, but no substantial amount of text was edited out. Cataphracts is my first book, so the changes were mostly to improve its clarity and overall flow.
6. How can readers learn more about you and your work?
The easiest way to learn more about me and keep up to date with my magazine articles and books is to go to my website, or to find me on a few different social media sites. People can follow me on Twitter @ErichBAnderson, and I’m also on Facebook and Goodreads. MHQ