He wears a Cloak of Invisibility to battle the ugly Specter of Procrastination. Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
Wouldn’t it be great to have some old draft such as Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman sitting around on a shelf for fifty years that you could suddenly reveal at the end of your career and have everybody go crazy trying to get it? Sadly, my first attempts at writing were a little less sensational, unless you count a story I wrote as a kid for my younger sister about a stuffed elephant, but I digress—and there’s no evidence of its prior existence. The elephant and the story are long gone. However, I do have two or three projects I worked on for several years and later put aside. Who knows, maybe they will get a second chance at life if I ever run out of ideas, though it’s unlikely. I have more ideas now than I could probably ever hope to write.
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
By day, I work as an employee of the U.S. government in the communications delivery sector. Very hush-hush, top-secret kind of stuff. If I told you, the Postmaster General would have to… well, you know… cancel you.
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
Fortunately, for others, mine is a one-man show… to protect the innocent.
Where do you get your superpowers from?
Years ago, I worked as a maintenance technician in the U.S. Air Force on an aging, outdated nuclear missile system of questionable safety. Perhaps, I was unwittingly exposed to radioactive material that altered my DNA and gave me superpowers—well, maybe not. I guess it’s possible I just got my powers from my grandmother. She was a town historian and writer. I could never ask her a simple question without hearing her say with a wink, “Go look it up.” In so doing, she managed to instill in me a love of history and a wonderful sense of discovery that have stuck with me ever since.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
My secret lair is a crowded den surrounded on three sides by floor-to-ceiling bookcases and a huge desk with a large comfortable chair from which I can look through a window onto my gardened backyard. Well, not really! A secret lair would do me absolutely no good. I write everything longhand first and most of that writing occurs while I’m busy doing other less important things like driving to and from work, eating dinner, watching television, sitting in church, or at my other job. It seems I need to be distracted for my powers of writing to function properly. Adding to my orderly chaos, I have stacks of scribbled post-it notes, napkins, deposit slips, church bulletins, or any other piece of paper with a blank space to write on to attest to my muse’s poor sense of timing. When I do have time to sit and write, it is in a comfortable recliner, surrounded by books and more piles of paper that sometimes actually do make it into a composition notebook. It is amazing how those little scraps of paper manage to come together into a cohesive story. Another one of those latent superpowers I possess.
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?
Oh, the usual sort of training things a writer uses to stay in top form… reading, more reading, followed by still more reading. A good writer has to be a reader above all else. I read history and fantasy to keep a sense of reality and wonder, poetry for rhythm and pace. As far as keeping those powers in check, I have my wife to thank. If she doesn’t like what I write, she tells me straight out. No beating around the bush with her. She is by far my best critic. It helps that her opinion matters more to me than a stranger’s. Would you believe she once saved one of my characters from death? I finished writing the story, but when she read it, she gave me a dirty look and told me “No.” It was her favorite character, after all. She made me promise to save him and so I did. She can be very persuasive.
Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
Easy. Without a doubt, I’d wear a Cloak of Invisibility. It’s nice to have when I see how people react to hearing for the first time I’m a writer. You never know if it’s a look of stupefaction, disbelief… or just plain envy. Then the conversation starts again and you discover the answer.
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
Too often, the Phantom of Uncertainty gets the better of me—not an uncertainty about my writing or the ability to pull off a story the way I want, but the details of each story. I hate getting a fact wrong, so I tend to over research sometimes. There are times, however, when you just have to make a good guess. I can’t tell you how many times I later find out I guessed right! What a relief. It can really wear you out!
What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
The ugly Specter of Procrastination. I try not to think about him… it only gives him more power. The only way to stop him is just to keep writing.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
I’ve learned is to believe in myself. After years of trying to go through traditional publishing, receiving countless rejection letters constantly telling me good-but-not-good-enough, it does take a toll on you, regardless of how many people say it doesn’t. It matters when it concerns your life dreams. Once I decided to go independent, I was so glad I did. I might not get the exposure or the monetary reward as I would from traditional publishing, but the freedom to do with my work as I please is reward enough… and it has given me confidence to keep writing, even if it’s just for an audience of one.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
It is always great to receive to receive personal messages from people telling me how much they liked a particular story. The most memorable experience so far, though, has been getting two Editor’s Choice selections this year by the Historical Novel Society, first in February for my book, The Leper King, and just this month for Shadow of the Mountain: A Novel of the Flood. Even us superheroes need a sense of personal validation once in a while.
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
Despite disappointments and frustration along the way, I wouldn’t change a thing. The journey to see my work in print has taught me the value of perseverance. It’s easy to give up; it’s harder to persevere. Adversity makes us stronger, more determined. Whether you are a traditionally publisher author or an independent, having endured a struggle to see your dream finally realized makes it all the sweeter.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why?
I’ve received lots of good advice along the way, which I can distill down into the following philosophy. Writing is an individualistic art form. It cannot—and should not—be bound by a set of rules; therefore, you might have to break a few rules occasionally. Certainly build a solid foundation of skills, but create your own style and voice. Be different. Do things your own way—not someone else’s way. There is no shortcut to good writing. It takes hard work.
Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
Shame on you if you haven’t already bought it! Following closely on the heels of the first book in the series (The Leper King), The Pawns of Sion is a rousing good tale of the Crusades with lots of fun twists and unexpected turns. I loved writing them both and can’t wait to write the final book in the series. Mix together political intrigue, war, love, treachery, betrayal, magic, a secret society of heretics—need I go on (did I mention an immortal saint?)—and you have a recipe for epic fun and adventure. What more could you ask for in a historical fantasy?! I warn you, though, in my hands, history is not what it seems. It may come alive for you in ways you won’t expect. Don’t believe me—buy it and find out for yourself!
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
I am currently in the process of editing a completed sequel to my Ararat series (Land of the Two Rivers: A Novel of Shinar) out next year and writing a second Civil War novel (Love Remembreth Not) based on the life of my 2nd great-grandfather hopefully out in early 2017. After that, back to the last book in the Crusades series—The Gambit Queen. Busy, busy, busy… The life of a superhero is never one of leisure, but definitely one of fun.
You can find Scott at: