Thursday, 31 January 2013

My Yarn with Scott Bartlett

If I believed that the alcohol ban during my chats with my fellow authors was going to work, then, I was dreaming. 

I am walking back from getting my morning coffee from Jolts and Sparks coffee hut, when I saw Gerard and Terrance sneak in with two dozen cold ones each.

I groan and continue walking to our town's most majestic and oldest historical site, Flushing Castle, erected during the early 17 century by Prince Flushing Singleton(hmm, I wonder if he and Danielle, my last guest,  are related?) for himself and his bride Nancy the Yeller.(Not even going to ask how she got that name!) 

 It is now a boarding house, and is where my next shed of solicitation guest is staying while on vacation, Scott Bartlett, a Newfoundland born and bred author. 

I must be a little late because Scott is outside, sitting on the stone wall, waiting for me. 

We engage in a little small talk before we reach the shed and open its doors, and I invite him to sit down.

"Welcome, Scott  have a seat, I have since moved up in the world since my milk crates, I now how real chairs! I have plenty of refreshments, care to have one?" 

"Sure! I’ll have a Quidi Vidi, if you have it."

"Thank you for coming Scott!  Though I have known you for years, this yahoos are unfamiliar with you, share a little about yourself."

"Well, I’ve wanted to be a novelist since grade nine, and I’ve been writing fiction that long too, though I didn’t complete a book until high school. I also blog about the environment, and various other topics. I’m from Paradise, and I’m currently living in St. John’s."

"I have seen Royal Flush on my favourite website and I would love to pick it up, but before I do, could you tell me a little about it?"

"Absolutely! It’s about a Kingdom that has the misfortune of being governed by an individual known only as the King. He’s terrible at being King, and he’s also terrible with women, though not for lack of trying. The novel’s divided into four parts, and in each one he screws up spectacularly with another woman."

"Wow, Royal Flush has not only a unique and funny title, but the plot sounds incredible!  Is there a particular part of the story that you really enjoyed writing?"

"There’s one part where the King’s castle falls under siege, and he has to defend it with just his royal fiddler, while trying to steal his royal fiddler’s girlfriend. The story’s depravity reaches new lows during that, so of course I had a fine time writing it."

 "Hey dude, tell us who your favourite characters are!" Jack bellows his one and only question from the back of the shed.

"From my own novel? The advisor and Sir Forsythe are among the only characters that deserve respect, so them, I suppose.

If you mean from literature in general… Ender is one of my favourites, from Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Also, I read God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut recently, and found Eliot Rosewater very likeable."

"Sorry about that, but Jack's question brought  another question to light, If Royal Flush  were to be optioned for a movie, who do you see playing your main characters?"

"Great question! Ian McShane would make a good King, I think, though he would have to somewhat mask that natural intelligence he gives off. Sean Bean would play Sir Forsythe well—the noble knight with multiple professions. And I’m sure Johnny Depp could pull off Frederick (the royal fiddler) nicely."

"They will be perfect, Scott!  I could really see those actors playing those roles!  I was wondering, as a person who writes on the side, during my down time, my writing process starts with forming the story in my head before I put pen to paper, what is your writing process like?"

"I’m in the final stages of writing my third novel, and my process has varied from project to project. Generally, though, before writing I have an idea of where I want to start and where I want to end up. The middle’s generally filled in as I write, and refined through multiple drafts. I’ve also used outlines, to a varying extent, for all three books."

Terrance a little buzzed from the smuggled beer, saunters over to the front of the shed, trips over a net and catches himself before landing on Scott's lap, almost spilling beer on him, then rudely asks,

"All of this sounds fascinating but I heard writing is a hell of a lot of work, why do you do it, what do you get out of it?"

"Hi, Terrance! I expect the reason I write is similar to the reason you’re guzzling that beer: for the buzz. I write because I enjoy it—not just the writing itself, but learning that others have enjoyed reading it. Also, sometimes it helps me to make sense of the world, or some semblance thereof."

"Thanks for the awkward segue,  Terrance, now go over with the rest of the b'ys and let me and Scott have our yarn. Terrance asked you why you like to write, now I want to ask you, is there anything about writing you don't like?"

"My least favourite part is the beginning of the project, when you know there’s at least an equal chance of throwing out what you’ve written and restarting as there is of keeping it. In fact, I’m about to begin a new novel, right after I finish this interview in fact, and that’s what I’m most apprehensive about."

"When you write, what is it that you hope your readers take away from your story?"

"It depends on the story. Royal Flush isn’t intended for much more than pure amusement (though there is some social commentary in there). It’s a very silly book. The one I’m currently finishing—Taking Stock—takes itself more seriously, and hopefully will give readers something to think about after they’ve put it down."

"Do you have any other stories you are currently writing or are planning to write?"

"Like I said, Taking Stock is almost finished—it’s about a writer whose mother dies two years before the book begins, and who spends those two years as a recluse. His inheritance runs out, and he’s forced to get a job at the local grocery store. The workplace politics are unusually fraught there, and he starts using drugs as a crutch with which to hobble through his newfound social life. I’m excited to get it out there."

Scott pauses briefly to take a long sip of his beer, and to take a breath before continuing telling me about his upcoming projects.

"The next project will be comedic science fiction set in the far future, in a society where anarchy has ostensibly taken over, but in truth corporations are running the show even more than they do nowadays. Modern life in this time has grown so cumbersome and inconvenient that instead of saving for retirement, everyone saves for a single one-way plane ticket (air travel has grown very expensive). There’s only one destination: the ‘New World’, which is said to lack all the bureaucracy of the ‘Old World’. For the first scene, I’m planning for the main character to be told there’s a good chance he’s the messiah. (The dominant religion is ‘Probablism’.)

So yeah! Now you have a lot of random details about my new project."

"Thanks a million for answering all my questions…and the others, Scott.  it has been a real pleasure. As I said before, I have seen Royal Flush online at is there anywhere else your book is available and what formats?"

"Royal Flush is available in print for $12.99 and as an eBook for $2.99, in all formats. Links to the various online stores can be found at my blog:

"You must be frozen solid by now, Scott.  My mates have been pretty greedy with the heat, so I am going to let you go so you can toddle on home and warm up, but before you go is there anything else you want to add?"

"Yes, actually! I’m starting a newsletter in February, which I’m calling “News in a Letter”. (Apt, right?) By signing up you receive a free audio recording of “The King of Hearts”, which is Part One of Royal Flush. It’s read by me—I do the voices and everything. Subscribers are also entered to win a signed copy of the book. Folks can sign up here:"

After walking back from the Flushing Castle boarding house, I see that the lights are still on in the shed, loud music playing and roady yelling vibrating from inside the walls of the shed, so loud that I heard their raunchiness from out here. 

I am going have to give up trying to curb their ill-mannered behaviour when they drink.

When I enter the my house, longing for a long hot bath and a glass of wine, I see a dozen red roses on the dining room table and a note:   I  have always loved you from a distance, but never had the courage to ask you out. I am still not ready, but when I find the courage I will whisk you in my arms and make you mine."

It was left unsigned,  leaving me with no clue as to who my secret admirer was, only the lingering scent of the roses and old spice cologne. 

 The Novel

The Author(handsome devil isn't he?)

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