This week we are happy to bring you an author Q&A with Scott Skipper. A USA based fiction writer. His work includes historical fiction, alternative history, novelized biography, science fiction and political satire.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a cranky old man who lives in the foothills of Southern California. At thirteen, I submitted my first story for publication. It was written on a 1910 Underwood typewriter with a broken ‘P.’ The magazine sent me an acceptance letter saying they had sent it to an illustrator and they would get back to me. A few weeks later, I received a letter advising me that an author with some name recognition, Harlan Ellison, had signed a deal with them, and they no longer needed me. With my aspirations cruelly dashed, it was twenty years before I submitted anything else for publication. Now, with the advent of self-publishing and retirement, there is nothing to stop me. Wicked Light, published in January, is my fifteenth novel.
Can you give us a brief description of your most recent book?
Gladly. Wicked Light is about a man who happens to be a successful author. One day, perplexing and annoying things start to happen to him. He tries to dismiss them as bad luck and coincidence, but when seemingly impossible things continue to occur, he begins to doubt his sanity. The suspense builds to an explosive climax, and when the truth is known, his whole life changes.
What was the most challenging part of the book?
There were two challenging parts: the beginning and the end. I began three separate times before I found a way to keep the main character from appearing maudlin in the light of so much adversity. Finally, I settled on first person. That let me show him as being a fighter with a sense of humor. The other challenge was the ending. I wanted a realistic, if somewhat fantastic, ending with a message of survival and redemption. When it went to beta readers, my most trusted reader, David Calder, who is a fine writer from New Zealand, told me that I failed, and I immediately knew that he was right. I rewrote the last five chapters, took the ending in a different direction, and both David and I agree that it works.
What’s more important: characters or plot?
Both are important, but I lean more heavily on characters. I like to let them tell the story. I believe that telling the story largely through dialogue quickens the paces and lets the reader get closer to the characters.
How did you come up with the title for the book?
It was difficult. I wanted a title that hinted at the source of the mysterious happenings but that didn’t reveal it. ‘Wicked’ tells you that something bad is going to happen. ‘Light?’ Well, if I tell you where that came from, it would give away the story.
What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?
Meeting, becoming friends, and receiving sincere praise from an honest to God New York Times Number One Best Selling Author, Burt Boyar. How it came about is a funny story. I had never heard of Burt until I found his historical fiction, Hitler Stopped by Franco. I loved it and wrote a glowing, five-star review, which happened to be the first posted on Smashwords. I also made a list of a couple of typos that I spotted. As is my habit, I emailed the list to him. Imagine, me telling a number one bestselling author about typos. When he received the email, he was on the phone with Smashwords trying to find a way to reach me to say thanks. He replied to the email with his phone number. When I called, he invited me to his Wilshire Boulevard penthouse where my wife and I were delighted to meet one of the nicest persons we ever knew. Burt was kind enough to read and post five star reviews for Golden State Blues and Alien Affairs. We remained in contact until his sad death a little over a year ago. He was near ninety.
Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why?
I read e-books exclusively because I don’t like to have to sit up and hold the pages open. From the sales viewpoint, I like audiobooks because they’re relatively expensive and yield nice royalties. I look on paperbacks as props for when I go to author events. E-books are the future.
If you enjoyed reading about Scott Skipper and would like to know more you can find links to his books and social media / website below: