Erik Dolson of Sisters has published a novel about love, deception and the desire to be “known.”
Chalice chronicles a year in the lives of Peter and Debra, who live in Port Cedar on Vincente Island in Puget Sound. Through a series of emails, the two help each other through small ups and downs, share pasts as they disagree about intimacy and love, then create fantasy worlds where it is easier to “be themselves” than it is in real life.
Eventually their worlds collide, and each learns self-deception can be the most insidious lie of all.
“These two characters share many characteristics, even when they disagree, and may even mirror each other,” said Dolson. “I wanted to show how difficult it can be to separate ‘what’s real’ from what we want the most, or fear the most. And how we define the world that also defines us.”
While the book could be thought of as a story about love, Dolson cautions that it is not a romance. He sees the primary market for Chalice, classified as literary fiction, as “people who read books that invite them to think, maybe join book clubs to share what they’ve read.”
Dolson has lived in Central Oregon for more than 30 years where he helped raise his two daughters. He published and edited the Nugget Newspaper in Sisters from 1982 until 2007, owns commercial real estate in downtown Bend, served on the Deschutes County Planning Commission, the Sisters School Board and the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners. After the girls were fledged and his ex-wife took over responsibility for the newspaper, he returned to writing fiction.
Many will recognize elements of Dolson’s life in the character of Peter, who also drives race cars and is, at times, a writer. But he says the book is not an autobiography.
“Though I included elements of my own life in both central characters, I did so because I could describe these events accurately and with passion. I paint scenes I see outside my window, but that does not mean anything is a self-portrait. The book grew out of my imagination, with chapters written to drive the story or carry the theme.”
Dolson graduated from Stanford University in 1973 with a degree in philosophy. He drifted around Europe and Asia for a couple of years, drove a forklift in Israel during one of their frequent wars, hid from soldiers on Cypress while trying to get to Turkey, was treated well in Afghanistan by those who eventually became the Taliban and looked for God in India.
Dolson returned home to San Francisco then waited tables in Portland, Oregon for six years while trying with little success to get published.
Dolson currently splits his time between Oregon and the San Juan Islands. In addition to Chalice, he is working on the fourth draft of All But Forgotten, a mystery set in the San Juans and Seattle, and a small book on Adult Attachment Disorder, It’s Nobody’s Fault.