Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’m chatting to Brandon Scott about his writing and books. Welcome Brandon. My first question to all my guest is what would they like to drink? So what would you like?
Wild Strawberry Tea, Please, and thank you for the interview.
Now we have our refreshments let’s start with what writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
As long as I’m not overthinking it, because I may forget how I do it, but pacing has always been something I could do without much thought put into it. It’s one of the things I get complemented on the most. The other thing would be dialogue. I’ve been able to write how people talk pretty effectively…so I’ve been told, but I’m still learning. Now, what I can’t do all that well is keep tenses straight in narration. I switch tenses up constantly and my editor goes nuts over it all the time.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
My newest project is the third book in the ‘Vodou’ series. I’ve just finished with Jr. edits and am starting the final read through before it goes to senior editing at my publisher.
The first book follows a grim reaper deep-fried Cajun named Jack Holiday. Book 2, called ‘Sleight’ follows a magician named Zadok Mitchem. Both book 1 & 2 happen at the same time, coming to a head at the end of book 3. The books are steeped in the mysticism of Voodoo lore. So far the series has been well received.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Around 30, I wanna say with nearly 20 that have significant work done to them. I’ve estimated I have between 10-12 years of planned work ahead of me.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter, or let the characters lead you?
In the beginning. I write little snippets on post it notes or in a steno pad. Sometimes whole chapters (if I’m lucky) and most of the time the thoughts come out of order with the story line.
When I sit down, I usually have the first chapter sketched out and I just go with it. I hate outlines, in a series they are kina necessary to keep the arc together, but I’m not much of a plotter or I’m no good at it. I tend to make a hit list of points I would like the characters to get to and if they don’t get to them all, then that’s ok. I feel I’m at the mercy of the character, not the other way around and I’ve found my characters don’t react well to being restrained in an outline.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing.
I know when I’m tired, it comes through when I’m feeling ‘meh’ and the writing is ‘meh’. I try to not write when angry or super stressed. The lack of focus that comes with those situations really pours through into the work. I like a good neutral mood, not too happy and not malcontent. I find a middle of the road calm works best for me.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Yes. Without the two hitchhikers I saw on the side of the on-ramp of I-40 in the middle of the night, ‘Vodou’ would have not existed and Jack Holiday along with it. Also, Jack’s way of speaking is based on a friend I had many years ago, he was displaced when Katrina tore through New Orleans, so he ended up here in mountain of North Carolina and after awhile he blended the two dialects of Cajun and Hick to a unique way of speaking. That individualized dialect became Jack’s voice in my head. He wouldn’t be half as well drawn of a dude without it.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Do you set yourself a daily word count? How many hours in a day do you write?
Everyday. I write six hours a day, Monday-Friday, after the day job from 5pm-11pm. Saturday and Sunday are the same hours but skewed to 9am-3 or 4pm. I try to not shut down until I reach 1,500 words or so, which is tough on the first draft as I write it out in long hand. I use a different fountain pen everyday that is armed with a different color ink for that day. It’s a handy way to keep track of your progress day to day. From experience doing this, it seems Wednesday is the roughest day to get anything accomplished.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Well Brandon Scott is a pen name of sorts as it’s my first and middle name. My last name has too many clunky sounds to flow, so it was agreed that I would use Scott, but I do have a pen name on stand-by complete with an origin story.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I have a little book I have dubbed the book of names. I go into cemeteries, newer and older…the older the better quality of unique names, ex. Zadok came off a tombstone from an 1814 death day. While I’m there I work sections, taking down the first names, working in a descending circular pattern, until I reach the “center”. Once there, I back track the circle jotting down last names at the top of the list to get a mix so it’s not direct dictation of the gravestones. A perk to this method of gathering names is the feeling that you’re giving the people attached to the name a new life in the fiction.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Close to a year, mostly because of my drafting process. First draft by hand. Second draft is complete dictation to the computer with minimal changes. Third draft is a hardcopy print off so I can do manual mark ups. Fourth draft is another print off…and the process continues until the fifth draft, which is now the beta copy. When I get that back, I run another hard copy (everything is done from hardcopy…I’m very low tech, I know…) then it’s off to Jr. edits (a new thing I’m doing and a needed thing) the draft that follows is a copy and paste, making the changes that are there.
The last draft before subbing it to the publisher for senior editing is a hardcopy run off that is read aloud to a tape recorder (I hate my voice!) and only then will it go to senior editing…just to still get it all wrong.
Thank you for our chat, Brandon. To find out more about Brandon’s writing and books click on this link: Brandon’s Amazon Page:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.