One of my favorite things to do besides talking with readers is talking with other writers. Generally I’m talking to females so it’s a real pleasure to switch it up a bit. Scott, I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me recently when I as a member of an RWA search committee approached you for info. First, how about if we tell the readers a little bit about how you got started in this crazy career called writing.
Scott: Dyanne I enjoyed chatting with you also. Since you asked how I got started here goes:
After many years toiling away at fiction on my own, a friend told me about Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW), a group based in Denver where I live.
Originally begun by several romance writers (including Kay Bergstrom who writes as Cassie Miles), RMFW now supports writers working in all genres of novel-length fiction. Some of our more notable members, past and present, include Diane Mott Davidson (Goldy the caterer mysteries), C. J. Box (the Joe Pickett series), Jeanne C. Stein (the Anna Strong series), Carol Berg (Song of the Beast), and Mario Acevedo (The Nymphos of Rocky Flats).
RMFW holds a conference each September, sponsors critique groups, hosts monthly meetings on the craft and business of writing, holds a contest that draws entries from across the country, and will be publishing its third anthology of fiction later this year.
Through critique groups, I made wonderful friends, was asked to join the Board of Directors, and was elected President about a year and a half ago. We’re a volunteer organization of more than 400 members--many published--and blessed by people who are passionate about helping other writers reach their goals.
Dyanne: LOL. Thanks Scott. I forgot to mention that you were serving as president of RMFW( Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) Now tell us about you.
Scott: Last November, my story, “The House Beneath Delgany Street,” appeared in an anthology of slipstream fiction titled Subtle Edens. The story is about a man on the fringes of society searching for a mythic house that seems to move from city to city.
Another short story, “The Seventh Green at Lost Lakes,” appeared in a horror anthology called Read by Dawn, Volume 1. This one is about a Tony Soprano type of guy who goes to an eerie country club where you never, ever, venture into the woods after your golf ball.
I’m currently looking for an agent for the two novels I completed -- one, a college coming-of-age story about the consequences of crossing that line between friendship and love; the other, a modern-day Jekyll/Hyde story that looks at the conflict between love and lust.
Dyanne: I’m keeping my fingers crossed for your agent search. I love Jekyll and Hyde especially the latest British version. Tell us about your latest work.
Scott: I’m currently working on a mystery/suspense novel set in the Adirondack mountains. To get his teenage son away from bad influences, a newly widowed man returns to the small town where he spent his own summers as a kid. But once there, he realizes it’s not the safe haven he once thought and finds himself trying to figure out the connection between a decades-old death at an abandoned artists’ colony and a recent accident that may have been murder.
Dyanne: I love the ideas that develop in a writer’s mind. You have me already salivating at the idea of reading your story. How did you get started as a writer?
Scott: I spent many years doing theater -- acting, directing, helping run a workshop theater. During the course of a production, you often see unusual people put under peculiar pressures. The experience gave me an idea for a story and a setting I wanted to share with readers.
Dyanne: What does a typical day look like for you?
Scott: My writing life is not as disciplined as I’d like. Most of my writing is done on weekends, usually early in the morning.
Dyanne: Don’t worry, Scott, mine isn’t as disciplined as it should be either. Now you have me wondering about your workspace. Would you describe your desk/workspace?
Scott: I have an 8-inch troll I picked up years ago in Sweden. It sits on a shelf overlooking my desk and seems to set the tone for some of my darker work.
Dyanne: I like that. I have a sin inch vampire. So tell me what are some of your favorite books(especially for writers)
Scott: I’m pretty eclectic in my tastes. I’m a big fan of Richard Russo (“Nobody’s Fool”), Colorado authors Dan Simmons (“A Winter Haunting”) and Kent Haruf (“Plainsong”), Carol Goodman (“Lake of Dead Languages”), and Jonathan Tropper (“The Book of Joe”). As far as writing goes, I like Jack Bickham’s book, “Scene and Structure.”
Dyanne: Excellent choice of books. Let’s switch gears. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.
Scott: I once lived in a house said to be haunted. I drove by Graceland the night Elvis died and got caught in a wicked traffic jam. I married my leading lady
Dyanne: WHOA!! Hold up Scott. You have to elaborate on the living in a haunted house part. Tell us about that, please. And you know I have to ask was the house haunted?
Scott: The house was a brooding old stone behemoth that I shared with several roommates. When the first renter moved in, he discovered two photos of the original owner and purported ghost in a built-in china cabinet. The first photo showed a young woman seemingly excited by the prospect of the future; but the second, taken when she must have been in her fifties, suggested that life hadn't turned out the way she'd hoped.
The symptoms? Attic and basement lights burning that no one had left on; sudden drafts and cold spots; and doors that seemed to move ever so slightly as if she had bumped them on her way past. All things that could be chalked up to forgetful tenants or a house in ill repair. But I always wondered.
Dyanne: And I’m seeing a story in that. LOL. I’m a lover of quotes. Tell me your favorite quote if you have one.
Scott: Hmm. Favorite quote? Okay, here you go. I have a favorite quote on writing. “Writing is like prostitution: first you do it for fun; then you do it for money.
Dyanne: ROFL. I love that quote. It’s making me laugh. Do you know who wrote it?
Scott: When I ran across this, I believe it was attributed to Voltaire, but I wouldn't swear to it.
Dyanne: So tell me, Scott, what do you think is the best and worst part of being a writer?
Scott: The best part: seeing the scene you’ve been struggling with finally come together. The worst part: getting your own SASEs back in the mail
Dyanne: I’ll agree with your assessment. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Scott: Find a critique group of people you trust. Then listen.
Dyanne: I’ll agree with you up to a point. You have to always remember it’s your story and every writer will want you to tell the story the way they would tell it. So, yes, listen, but listen to your gut also. Your characters only talk to you not to your critique partners. Last question. I promise.
Tell us a story about your writing experience.
Scott: One of the stories I’ll always remember involve a rejection letter. It was the most elaborate rejection letter I ever received. It was a full-page form letter laid out like a checklist, so the editor could quickly mark off the reasons he’d decided against a story. Near the bottom was an option that read: “Have you ever considered an alternative career? We hear that selling women’s foundation garments can be very rewarding.”
Dyanne: Scott you have a wonderful sense of humor. Thank you.
Scott: Thanks, Dyanne!
Dyanne: Don’t forget everyone, if you want to find out more about Scott Brendel, the president of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, or if you’re looking to join the group check them out at www.RMFW.com