Author Interview with Scott Stevenson, Author of "Looks Easy Enough"
Created By: BookBundlz
1. If you could have coffee with any three authors, living or dead, who would they be?
Mark Twain - because of his wit and spirit of adventure. (One of the first authors to use a typewriter.)
John Grisham - a great story teller. His books always hold my interest from the first to the last page.
Stephen King - I don't particularly care for his stories, but I admire his dedication to the craft of writing. He said that writing is a cruel mistress; she doesn't like to be ignored. I agree. Once the writing bug gets in your system, you have to write every day in order to learn and to grow.
2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?
Book - HOW TO SURVIVE ON A DESERTED ISLAND (there must have been one written)! Or maybe SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (my favorite movie as a kid).
Food - Chocolate - at least I'd be happy for as long as it lasted.
Drink - Orange Juice. I love orange juice on a hot day.
3. What are your secret indulgences?
Movies! Movies are a great two-hour escape especially in the middle of the day - including sneaking lunch in under my shirt.
4. What about you would surprise your readers?
I didn't enjoy reading until I was well into my forties. I was too busy working ten to twelve hours a day as an architect running my own small office. I also disliked writing - received mostly "C"'s and "D"'s in English and writing classes in school (maybe because I didn't have anything to write about). When I did have something to say and sat down to record my feelings about a tough four-year period in my life, I couldn't stop writing. It was my first writing of any consequence, and it turned into this book.
5. What is your perfect day as an author?
Waking up to check my email and seeing that we have several thousand new book sales - what a nice way to start a day. I enjoy writing in the morning - the ideas seem to flow. Then doing something physical in the afternoon - working in the yard, hitting some tennis balls, or working on a construction project around the house. It's amazing how much exercise you get when you're digging trenches by hand for the foundations.
Of course this would be the "perfect day". The reality is that I haven't come close to selling a thousand books in a day and at the moment I'm not doing much writing; I'm busy working (designing/building) to pay the bills and when I'm not working I'm looking for the next project. But I am digging trenches. It's a start.
6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?
I admire Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, by Harper Lee - the strong, silent type who took responsibility for his life, his children, and his community. He always tried to do the right thing in a competent quiet way. I wouldn't mind being Atticus Finch.
Elwood P. Dowd played by James Stewart in the movie HARVEY. Elwood could see Harvey, the invisible six-foot-eight-inch rabbit who represented the kind and decent side of humanity. I would love to be able to always see the kind and decent side of people.
7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson. Mr Larsson is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Too bad he passed away. I also enjoyed THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and look forward to the third in his trilogy, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST.
8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?
I didn't have a favorite book as a teenager. I didn't do much reading. Most of my time was taken up with school studies - I had to work hard for mediocre grades - and playing sports (football, baseball, basketball). If I had to pick a book, I guess it would be an autobiography of a sports figure.
9. What books have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?
Recently I read THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS, by Harold Bell Wright. The book was published in 1907 and became the first novel to sell over a million copies (I think). I was amazed at how relevant the story is still today - how much the times have changed, yet how much we stay the same. Another would be JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clarke - the book is one thousand and six pages long (I like long books that hold my interest). Also, ELLA MINNOW PEA, A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn (a quirky, clever imaginative story laced with humor).
About Your Book:
10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
My book, LOOKS EASY ENOUGH A Joyful Memoir of Overcoming Disease, Divorce, and Disaster started off as a love letter to my wife. We were relaxing in lounge chairs on the back deck of our house watching the sun set over the horizon, when out of the blue I mentioned to my wife that I was going to write her a love letter. I had no idea why I said it as I'd never written a love letter in my life; it just popped out. I hoped she would forget about it, but she didn't, and, to my surprise when I sat down to write, I couldn't stop. The love letter turned into a book. Even though the book is about overcoming adversity - cancer, divorce (not ours), forest fires, and market crashes - if you look close you can find the love letter seeping through the pages.
11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?
Hey, this is an easy one. The book is a memoir covering a four-year period when I retired with my wife to live the simple life, but instead found myself helping my wife through cancer and my sister through a messy four-year divorce from an abusive husband, and then painfully witnessing our retirement money circle the drain in the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression and watching as a forest fire raced through our small mountain community before being forced to evacuate (read the book to see if our home survived). Yet through it all, I tried to see these events from the big picture view of life or what I call the Magic of Life and came out smiling.
The Magic of Life - my philosophy that I attempted to get across in the book - is that life is one big "learning experience". Seeing these events (cancer, divorce, forest fires, and market crashes) as learning experiences kept me from being overwhelmed by the events and allowed me to kind of step back and see what I could learn from them, or what I could do to help someone else through, or even to see the humor (there always seems to be humor even in the toughest of situations if you just look). It's real tough to feel sorry for yourself when you're trying to learn, trying to help others, and seeing the lighter side.
12. Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book. Perhaps a character says or does something you did not think they would, or something you thought would only be a couple of paragraphs turns into ten pages. What surprised you about you book?
What surprised me the most was the reaction to the book by quite a few of the readers. Most of the readers said that they were smiling if not laughing throughout a good portion of the book. I mean the book is about cancer, divorce, market crashes, and a forest fire; not typically subject matter for laughs. But remember my little philosophy above; there always seems to be humor even in the toughest of situations if you just look. I attempted to convey that "lighter side" in the book and I was pleasantly surprised that so many readers picked up on it.
I know this didn't really answer the question but . . . it seemed like how I should respond.
13. If you were crafting a discussion question for book clubs to discuss about your book, what question do you think would generate the most discussion?
There is the obvious discussion on whether seeing life as a "learning experience" really helps you make it through tough times i.e. how would the members of the book club choose to handle a challenging situation such as cancer, divorce, a market crash, a forest fire? It would entail searching through their beliefs on how they see life, do they believe in God, why are we humans really here, etc., etc. I'm sure everyone would have something to say on that subject! The bottom line for me is that it's not really important whether anyone else believes in the Magic of seeing life as a learning experience - it's what worked for me. It got me through some pretty tough times . . . with a smile. If this book can help in even the smallest way, one other person make it through their own tough time, then great.
What do people feel about Susan (my wife) switching from the western approach of treating her cancer to the holistic approach? What method would the members of the reading club choose? Do they have any friends who have used the holistic approach?
What do the members of the book club feel about Tree, my sister's abusive ex-husband who dragged on their divorce for four years? Readers always seems to have a lot of feelings towards Tree.
About Your Writing Process:
14. What is you writing process like?
When I first start a writing project, the act of sitting down to write is an effort. I read that someone once said, "I hate to write, but I love what I have written." That sounds accurate to me. But once I get into the story, usually I can't stop writing, and look forward to sitting down at my desk to see what I come up with. My process is to hand-write everything first and then fine-tune it in the computer.
15. What gets you in the mood to write?
Having something to write. So many times I have tried to force the words onto the page and typically realize that I don't really have anything to say. It usually takes months if not years of playing around with a story in my head before I finally have a break through moment and come up with a clear idea of what the story should be. When this happens the words just flow.
16. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just go for it! There are a lot of people out there telling us how to write, how to develop a story, how to create interesting characters, etc., etc. and I suspect there is probably a lot of good information in these classes, books, and articles. But after awhile you just have to do it - sit down and write. Also, be happy, be proud of what you have written. If you aren't excited by what you have written, start over and try again. If you don't love what you have created, it's doubtful anyone else will. Lastly, don't give up or be discouraged by what others say, especially agents and publishers. Agents and publishers are looking for established writers with track records of selling books and will usually ignore first-time authors no matter how good the book is. Bottom line - just do it, love what you have created, and don't give up.