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Best of Tacoma 2015: Best Local Writer

Erik Hanberg

South Sound writer Erik Hanberg is the reader’s favorite local author. Staff photo

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Marketing consultant. Husband and father. Metro Parks Commissioner. Writer. Playing any partial combination of these roles would be a challenge for many, but Erik Hanberg seems to shrug off the implication that juggling these tasks might be tough.  

"I've always had a side project going," he reflects, going back to the days when he was working both at Bellarmine Preparatory School and establishing a fringe theater (The Horatio Theater) in Tacoma.  

Right around that time, give or take a year, Hanberg also was planting the seeds that would become a side career in writing.

"I've been a writer for a long time," he recollects, adding that he completed his first novel (which might not have been a critical success) in the 7th or 8th grade.  After leaving college, though, he says he fell out of the habit.  That was, until he pounded out his first novel as a National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) project.

"I was hooked," he remembers.

After revisions, Hanberg self-published this murder mystery, Saints Go Dying, in 2010.  The Marinara Murders and The Con Before Christmas followed in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and in 2013 he broke genre and published the first novel in a science fiction trilogy, The Lead Cloak. The Iron Harvest, currently being edited, will hit virtual (and real) shelves soon.

Hanberg's approach to balancing his roles seems to echo his methods of learning self-publishing.

"I started simply," he states equally simply.  

Adding to this, he combines a sensible approach where he brings together forces from context to context, area of expertise to area of expertise. One example is how he took lessons learned in his various nonprofit sector jobs and parlayed them into a series of non-fiction books.  The Little Book of Gold shares his insights about fundraising, for instance, while The Little Book of Likes deals with maximizing social media and The Little Book of Boards discusses how to be an effective board member.

For Hanberg, writing has proven to be a sustainable passion. In addition to the catharsis it provides,  "it's a side project that can earn income," he explains.  Additionally, he and his wife, Mary Holste, a graphic designer and co-principal in their marketing firm Side x Side creative, work together with design and marketing elements for his books.  Through what Hanberg calls their "own little research project" they "take what works out really well" and benefit their clientele.

"It really is a win-win-win," he muses.

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