Interview With An Author: Scott McGowan

Question 1: What got you into writing?

When I was at school, I didn’t read much. I found it difficult and so disliked trying. We later discovered I was dyslexic but not until I was around sixteen years of age.

It wasn’t till I read ‘Reaper Man’, by Terry Pratchett, that the written word became so wonderful, to me. It was a book that was easy to read and had elements to it that could not be found anywhere else. I was inspired.

I started writing at that point, beginning with a few horror shorts, from the reader’s point of view. This, I felt, gave some added impressions on the reader and made the stories feel more real. Ever since then, I have spent a great deal of time developing my writing and have enjoyed the process wholly.

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Question 2: What is your favourite book and why?

I know everyone expects you to say ‘War and Peace’ or ‘The Cone Gatherers’ but I have to say that for me it has to be the wonderful poetry of Dr Seuss. His rhymes are simple and fun and, most importantly, they do the job they were meant to. The correct message is delivered. You were never unaware of what that crazy ‘Cat in the Hat’ was telling you. All in all it was a pleasurable collection to read.

Question 3: What is your writing routine?

First of all, when I write, I have to be completely alone, in my own space. If I have other people in the same room as me then I can’t concentrate and my thinking goes out of the window. When I begin, I have everything laid out before me. My laptop, right in front of me; my iPad, for displaying notes, sits to my left; Refreshments are on my right, so I don’t have a reason to get up; and a pack of  Rothman’s hibernates in my pocket, for when the words don’t come.

I keep very close notes on everything I plan to do, throughout the book, and know what’s happening in every chapter before I even start writing the first sentence. Because of that, I start every writing session with a set of notes and a ‘get-to’ point. This helps me to get straight into my writing and not have the stresses of getting my head back in the game.

I will then write until I have written, what I think are, enough words; or I get too tired. The next day I’ll start again and so on and so forth.

Some advice that I based this on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye7ddwhLsds

Question 4: Tea or Coffee?

Always tea. I am a ‘Tea Jenny’ to the bone. I can’t stand even the smell of freshly brewed coffee. I’m sorry to all those who thrive on the stuff but it’s not for me.

Question 5: What got you into your particular genre of writing?

My parents had read to me from books written by such greats as JRR Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and CS Lewis. These had always stimulated me and so, when I picked up a copy of Douglas Adams’ ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I was instantly enthralled.

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy, lies a small, unregarded, yellow sun. Orbiting this, at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles, is an utterly insignificant little green and blue planet, whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” Douglas Adams- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (First Paragraph)

I started reading more science fiction and fantasy, along with Ian Livingston’s ‘read your own story’ series, where the reader decided which courses to take by making decisions throughout the book. Ray Bradbury, too, was a freshness I had never read before and it intrigued me more and more.

Terry Pratchett was it for me, though. His Discworld series were the wondrous stories I had been looking for. They were all fantastical stories but always had an echo of the real world flowing through them.  I found that I had a knack of writing in a similar fashion and developed that into something that could be utilised to tell my own special tales.

Some great advice by Neil Gaiman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drMuQqLLEe0

Question 6: Why do you love writing?

I love writing, not only because I’m a natural storyteller but, because it’s not all about the words when you’re telling a tale. There is a great element of implanting feelings and emotions into the reader’s minds. The way you say things and your word choices can change how your reader reacts towards a certain character or event. I love to create the right circumstances for my story to work and love, even more, telling my tale in a new and exciting manner.

Question 7: How many books have you written and what are they?

A present I have written three novels, a collection of short stories and a malt whisky informative.

My first novel was “Curse of the Anti-Santa”: William, the eldest son of a Glasgow Godfather of crime, is released from prison. When returning to his life as an upstanding member of society, he finds himself kidnapped by some outlandish Dwarfs and taken to the North Pole, only to discover he is the grandson of none other than Chris Cringle himself. This is a novel ranging across the unknown with Gypsies, Arab Warriors, Dwarfs, Trolls, Magic, War, Good, Evil and of course the Winter Father himself.

I then went on to write a “whisky guidebook” for a private Scottish Country Lodge Hotel. This took some time and a lot of research, which I haven’t gone near since.

After completing that I went on to write my second novel, “Bjorn & Bread”. This was supposed to be a simple tale of a Dwarf who, when he discovers that some of his kin are in trouble, travels to the big city, far south, to avenge them. However, when I had finished writing my notes up for the story, I discovered that it was far too much to fit into one book. After some shuffling about and rearrangement, the ‘Bjorn Trilogy’ was born, so to speak. The first in the trilogy was indeed called “Bjorn & Bread” and is available on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. I have just completed the second, “Bjorn Free” and passed it on to my editor and I have already written the first four thousand words of the concluding third book.

In between writing “Bjorn & Bread” and “Bjorn Free”, I published a collection of shorts and poems, entitled “Short Stories & Allegories”. These contain stories where I have delved into other genres like thriller, suspense and horror. I have even experimented with comedy and rhyme.

Question 8: As a series writer do you find it hard to keep the story fresh?

This is something that I’ve never really had a problem with. I know other writers probably hate me right now but it’s true. My imagination runs away with me quite a lot, which is why I have to keep very accurate notes on everything so as I don’t get lost. My trouble has always been going too far with a scene and having to remove great lumps of text. Getting the right words is also quite a burden sometimes. I can write sentence after sentence, the words pouring out of me, before I suddenly come to that one word I can’t recall. I know exactly what I want to say but that one word that I need, to carry on, evades me.

If I ever do feel that the story is starting to feel a little stale, I stop and implant a new element or switch things up, depending on what I feel the story is lacking.

Question 9: What tips can you give aspiring authors about writing a series?

Firstly, I would say that you should have a good idea about what’s going to happen in each book before you start the first one. Make sure you know how everything is going to progress throughout. This gives you some stepping stones to get you from one part of the story to the next, allowing you to concentrate on one scene at a time.

Secondly, let your readers feel some emotion for your characters. If they feel that they know the characters then they will start to have a keen interest in what’s to come. Will they live? Will they die? Will they get taken away by the fairies that live in the flower garden? It’s all up to you but if you can get your reader hooked then they will come back for the next instalment.

Question 10: How do you manage your time?

The only real time that I get to write is when everyone else has gone to their beds and the house is silent. Because of that, I started to write through the night-time. Every day I write from 11pm till 2am, without fail, this helps a lot in keeping me in a structured frame of mind.

Question 11: Are you self-published or with an agent? Was this an active choice?

I am self-published but I have no aversion to getting an agent/publisher etc. I liked the idea of self-publishing, after reading up about it around 2005, and so decided to try it out and see what avenues it would take me. I suppose, therefore, that it was a conscious decision.

 Social Media and Contact:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Scott-McGowan/e/B00JD6YQXE/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4604634.Scott_McGowan

Twitter Account: @AuthorMcGowan https://twitter.com/authormcgowan

Blog: https://authormcgowanblog.wordpress.com/

eMail: scott.blake.mcgowan@gmail.com

 BOOK BLURBS:

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‘Curse of the Anti-Santa’: William, the eldest son of a Glasgow Godfather of crime, is released from prison. When returning to his life as an upstanding member of society, he finds himself kidnapped by some outlandish Dwarfs and taken to the North Pole, only to discover he is the grandson of none other than Chris Cringle himself. This is a novel ranging across the unknown with Gypsies, Arab Warriors, Dwarfs, Trolls, Magic, War, Good, Evil and of course the Winter Father himself.

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‘Short Stories & Allegories’: An eclectic collection of shorts and poems from throughout Scott McGowan’s life.

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‘Bjorn & Bread’: In the second day of Mars in the year of the disabled wasp… A storm gathers, trees bend in the howling wind and the mountains scream their warnings to all who surround them. Lights flash in the skies as lightning crackles and thunder rolls. As the earth shakes in the valleys, the animals make for shelter and the forests clear away their inhabitants to make way for the teaming rain and the ferocious hail erupting from the dark and cloudy heavens. This is no time to be presenting yourself to the elements. In the dank, misty fog that covers the land there are none so bold as would wish to be pressing through the shadowy and murky back-lands of the terrain we see before us; None who had any choice at any rate. Glad Lockforger, a humble Dwarf from the small mining community in Mirkhead, was on such an unfortunate passage. Bruised and near broken from his journey, he trod on through the soggy, soiled ground beneath his small feet, wincing in pain with every step. His journey had been a long and arduous one and had taken him many weeks of hard slog and deep determination to manage forth, ever onwards towards his ultimate destination. It was all going to be worthwhile though. On the other side of the mountain before him lay Tallochmhor, the land of the King. He had to get there. He had to tell his tale. He had to get a beer…

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‘Bjorn Free’: The story of Bjorn and his friends continues in this coming book. Will they find what they seek in the big city or will it swallow them whole. Due to be released in October 2015.

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