Friday, April 29, 2016


Q: Scott…what made you become a writer?

A: That’s tough to say. There was always a story running in my head. When I was a kid, I would draw and create worlds that would make Tolkien happy. When I wasn’t drawing, I was daydreaming. In math classes and church I killed a lot of ninjas. When I became an adult I started to put stories and ideas on paper more and more. Sometime in my thirties the idea of books started to formulate. Since then I’ve had two novels published. Most recently, Eight Days. I’m a storyteller. I use the word author so people can find me online, but I don’t know if I like the word. "Author" sounds too much like someone much smarter than me, but I can work with being a storyteller.

Q: What is your typical writing day like?

A: I like to start early and write first, before everything else distracts me. I don’t write too long. Maybe an hour. When it’s time for revisions I’ll spend more time working on a manuscript. This evolves the more I learn about writing and the better I get. I would like to dedicate three to four hours to writing daily, but at this time in my life that’s not possible.

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: I outline each story, but only about a page or so. I do take lots of notes and write dozens of ideas down that I might use. The outlines give me goals to write to, but I don’t let them control the story too much. If things need to change, if the characters go somewhere different than I planned, I’ll follow. I’m always listening, and I might add something new I pick up along the way.

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: That depends on the story. I write the first draft, and then put it away for a few weeks. Then I’ll come back and do one revision before letting my wife read the manuscript. She’ll pick up on continuity issues and characters taking actions without the proper motivation. Then I’ll revise based on her notes and ideas. After that, I’ll read the manuscript again. Once a publisher sees it I’ll usually end up revising parts of it again several times based on their findings. Some of the revisions are to improve continuity, to improve phrasing, to make parts of the story make more sense, and finally to clean up typos. Eight Days probably went through about seven revisions.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Editing is tough for me. I’ve always had trouble with words, even though I love them, and I don’t see things that should be obvious. The best thing you can do is to get the help of professional editors. Even if you’re a grammar guru, you should get someone else to edit for you because we become blind to our own errors, even when they’re obvious.

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: To always keep a notebook handy to take notes, even if it’s for stories you may not work on for years. I don’t know if it’s an industry habit or not, but I think discipline is the least spoken about trick to completing writing projects. You can be the best writer in the world, but if you don’t have the discipline to finish a work, to edit it, to sell it to a publisher, and then to promote it, you won’t be read.

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: Not really. Sometimes writing is hard because life is busy, but it’s work, and to complete your work you have to start, stay at it, and finish.

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I write the stories I want to tell. Publishers and readers put me into genres more than I do. I think maybe I’m a Southern Fiction writer, but later novels may be set in other places with themes not common in Southern stories. The term “Literary Fiction” can sound boring, so I don’t know if that’s a good fit for me either, but it’s sometimes used to describe my writing. Genres are good for helping readers find books, and I don’t have a problem with them, but I don’t want categories to limit me. I hope people who read in any genre will like my work.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: My wife and then maybe a couple of close friends. After that it’s usually editors who offer suggestions. I don’t have a formal beta reader process in place.

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: I enjoyed writing about the main character’s father. His father died when he was young, and he never knew him. My dad doesn’t remember his own father, so it was special to consider what it might be like to learn about someone you love but can’t remember.  

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: They are real. You know them. Maybe they are you. Life is hard, but it’s also beautiful, and like the rest of us, the characters usually forgot to enjoy the day to day.

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: I don’t like self-promotion, but it’s something we have to do as authors. Most of us anyway. If you write something you believe in it’s easier to share it. Be honest. Be yourself. People want to know who you are, so show them some of your life. You have to keep safe boundaries, but don’t be afraid to be human. Help others and they’ll help you in return. The writing business is the only one I’ve ever experienced where others help each other so much.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: I look at negative reviews of the best authors in the world. Even Hemingway is trashed in Amazon sometimes. Everyone won’t like your work, but some will. Write for yourself first, and then write for those who do need to read your work. Stories change people. They heal. Don’t worry too much about negativity. Think about the good your story will do.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: I like the freedom. Even though I have a publisher, they allow great freedom to explore areas that larger houses wouldn’t allow. They take risks. I worked with a larger house before Eight Days and we had big creative differences. French Press Bookworks helped guide my vision, but they never tried to change it. If you can find people who understand what you’re trying to do, and want to help you, that’s the foundation of a good relationship.

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: There’s not much money for promotion, and it’s much more difficult to get your book in front of people.

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: I’m working on my next novel. I’m continuing to study the purpose and meaning of life.

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: A River Runs Through It, by Norman Maclean ; A Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins; Serena, by Ron Rash.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would you talk to them about?

A: Peter Jenkins. I’d talk about whatever he wants. When you get to meet a genius, it’s best to sit back and listen.

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: Write almost every day and keep working. It’s tough, but if you’re persistent, you can do something good with your writing.

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: “Just Do It”—Nike advertisement slogan 


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