Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Scott King – Scott King, an international best selling author, was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Ocean City, Maryland. He received his undergraduate degree in film from Towson University, and his M.F.A. in film from American University.
Until moving to follow his wife’s career, King worked as college professor teaching photography, digital arts, and writing related classes. He now works full time as an author.
King’s non-fiction books are a way for him to get back that feeling of teaching a class, while his fiction books are his way of having fun.
Thanks so much, Scott, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Scott King: In high school I worked as a production assistant on a bunch of movies, the first of which was “Runaway Bride.” The exposure to the film industry made me interested in storytelling, but I was dyslexic, so I never thought I could be an author. I figured comics or making movies was where I could work, because those are both collaborative mediums and the end product isn’t just words on a page. Life got in a way, my father got sick, and when I should have made the move to L.A. I stayed on the East Coast to take care of him. At that point, cut off from the industry, I had to refocus and decided to give being an author another try. There were some learning curves, it’s not easy being dyslexic and writing novels, but as long as you have a good enough editor and proof readers, it is manageable.
JSC: How long does it take you to write a novel?
SK: It really depends on what I am writing. I’ve written a first draft in as short as five day, which you can read about more in my book “The Five Day Novel,” while with something like my epic fantasy series ,where the books are two hundred thousand words or longer, the first draft can easily take four to six months. Once the first draft is done, I shift to rewrites. Those usually take me about 1/2 the time as the initial draft. Then I have to deal with editors, sensitivity readers, and proof readers. Getting all that feedback and implementing changes usually takes two to four months.
JSC: Where do you like to write?
SK: I LOVE coffee and I have a favorite coffee shop that I used to go to and write all the time. I would be there from maybe 7:30am till 11am-ish. That was my set writing time and it worked out wonderfully. That was of course pre-pandemic. Now I write at home, because I can’t write at the coffee shop. It has been a bit of an adjustment. What I have found that helps is I set up my lap-top at a different location than in my office and sort of treat it like I am still at the coffee-shop. Doing so helps me not get distracted by all the other work (dealing with ads, emails, etc…) that usually calls to me if I try to write in my office.
JSC: If you had a grant to write any book you wanted as a freebie without worrying about sales, what kind of story would you like to tell?
SK: I treat every book this way. I am not one to write to market. I don’t worry about if a book will be easy to sell. I just write whatever story I feel I need to tell. I’m lucky enough that I keep my production costs low and have enough books out and enough loyal readers that breaking even isn’t too hard. Without this philosophy I probably wouldn’t have written something like “The Stardrake Effect” which is one of my best books, but is a pain in the butt to market. Slice of life dramas in general aren’t huge sellers and then you factor in spaceships and service animals, and most people will turn away. The benefit though is that the people who hear it and are intrigued by it, are usually reallyyyyy intrigued and the perfect target audience.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for the “The Stardrake Effect?”
SK: Our dog, Winchell, passed away at the age of 13. He was a pure breed black lab and raised and trained to be a Seeying-Eye dog. Writing “The Stardrake Effect” was sort of how I coped with his death. It was a chance for me to tell the core of his story. The character of Barnabas is one hundred percent based off of him and many of the shenanigans that happen in the book happened in real life. Shifting the setting to a future sci-fi one with spaceships and such was a way for me to touch upon some themes and ideas I wouldn’t have been able to if the story had been told in a contemporary time.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in the book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
SK: Ultimately I wanted people to get to know Winchell, so that even if he was gone, he would still live on not just in our memories, but now in the memories of others. That was always the core goal of the book. Past that I also wanted to write a coming of age tale that was about that awkward time between college and taking your first real job. Kayla, the main character in the story, is still trying to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with life, even though by that age she is already supposed to have it all figured out. So much of the book is about finding yourself, friendship, and what it means to be family. I think I managed to touch upon these things in the way I wanted, or at least that’s what reader reactions have suggested.
JSC: What non-point of view character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
SK: Gynx is by far the breakout character of the book. Readers love them. Gynx is non-binary and Kayla, the POV character’s best friend. Right now there are no plans for it, but if “The Stardrake Effect” were to become a series, Gynx would totally be the main character in the sequel. I mean Gynx is at school to be a fighter pilot, and has so much relationship drama and just… Gynx would just be fun to write again!
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
SK: My bio-mom was a drama teacher at Duke Ellington, in D.C.. She regularly would get her students to babysit me when I was younger. One of which was Dave Cahppelle. I don’t remember much about him other than he would just constantly go outside to smoke.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
SK: I’m tied in slightly to the board game publishing community. For eight or so years I have been putting out an annual calendar filled with board game photos. For awhile too I also did commercial photography for publishers, but have had to phase that out some to make more time for writing. I still pick up a few gigs here and there as a favor to friends, which is nice, because it means I get to be more choosey and pick stuff I actually want to shoot instead of just doing it for money.
JSC: What are you working on now?
SK: 2020 has been a hell of a year. We moved from PA to TX. I got pneumonia. A pandemic happened. The economy. ALL THE THINGS… so writing has been rough. I have mostly been working on short stories, some for submissions and some for anthologies I have been asked to be in. Once I wrap those though, I plan to dive back into my epic fantasy series Eldrealm and write books three and four back to back! Books one and two are already out so now is actually a great time to pick them up if you haven’t. I promise the next cycle of books will have so many nasty monsters, big battles, and lots of heart break.
And now for Scott’s latest book: The Stardrake Effect:
A tale of a woman and her stardrake…
Kayla’s parents had always told her that they would get her a stardrake when she was older…
They died and never did.
Now, on the verge of graduating from StarCorps Academy with her PhD, Kayla decides the time is right and volunteers for a service drake raising program.
It lasts one year.
At the end, she must return the stardrake so it can be trained and paired with an owner who needs it.
Expecting it to be all cuddles and cuteness, Kayla is unprepared when she is given Barnabus, a bundle of trouble. He turns her life upside down, putting her whole academic career in jeopardy.
Will she even last the year?
If she does, how can she give up something she has started to love?
Inspired by a true story, The Stardrake Effect, is an emotionally resonant tale stuffed with laughter, friendship, spaceships and heartbreak.