Scott, your new book Eight Days comes out in March 2016. Tell us a bit about the story and what inspired you to write it.
I can’t remember the exact moment when the idea for Eight Days came about. Usually new story ideas come fast, through a dream or event, but this one came slowly. I do know that several people who I cared for had died within a year or so. Two of them died within a couple of weeks of each other. I was sad about their loss, but I also knew that I would see them again. Not here, but somewhere. I wanted to explore this and began researching Heaven and the most believed ideas on the afterlife.
During my research and the writing of Eight Days, I made a point to avoid the non-fiction “return from Heaven” books that are popular these days. I also avoided fiction on Heaven. I only read what might be considered scholarly work on Heaven and the afterlife. After the last edit was turned into my publisher, French Press Bookworks, I read a few of these books about Heaven.
What was it about the relationship between older and younger generations that you wanted to highlight in Eight Days?
There’s wisdom that comes with age. I’ve always listened to people I consider wise. I guess I took much of what I’ve learned from them and used it here.
Is there a line, or a paragraph, that you’re particularly proud of in Eight Days? If so, can you share it?
“Life’s short when compared to eternity, but eternity is only worth it because of life.”
I think there’s a bigger picture than what we see here on Earth, but what comes next – what’s forever – is made here and now.
Do you have any advice for people who want to (a) write and (b) publish a novel of their own?
There are many people who are far more talented than I am, but we’ll never read their work because they don’t have the discipline to finish their work, or they can’t overcome the fear of putting their writing out there for the world to see. Staying motivated to finish a novel, and then to edit it, and then to go through the publishing process takes a great amount of energy and endurance. Then having people judge something that comes from the deepest part of one’s soul is difficult.
It’s a bit like skydiving naked.
If someone wants to write and publish, they should just do it. First, put in the work. Write every day, or almost every day. Stick with it. Second, learn how to ignore negativity and how to deal with failure. You will fail, but if you stay with it, eventually you’ll experience successes.
If someone wanted to really understand you, what would they have to read, watch, and listen to?
There are things I believe in that are greater than political parties, governments, religions, and even personal biases. Things like love, family, friendship, and being good to each other. I try to keep these in mind. I often fail, but I try. Becoming the person you’re supposed to be is a life-long process. If we stop trying to improve, to become better, then we are failing.
I’m driven forward by the light that is in all of us, and I’m pulled back by the darkness.
To understand me, someone only needs to understand these things. These truths are in many books, music, films, and art, but I can’t nail down only a few.
Have you ever found a writer, or a character in a book, who thinks just like you? If so, who was it?
Different books have spoken to me at different times. I related to the main characters in Deliverance, by James Dickey, recently because they were experiencing the world of jobs and adult responsibilities that destroy men. They sought adventure to break free from their 9 to 5 jobs and found more adventure than they wanted. What characters I relate to will change as I evolve and grow older.
Relatedly, is there a book out there that you wish you’d written?
To Kill a Mockingbird is a perfect Southern book. I think A River Runs Through It is also perfect. Anything by Ron Rash. He’s one of the best writers alive today.
Do you have any unusual writing habits (like using a quill pen, or writing in the bath)?
I paint myself blue and then go into a peyote trance. Okay, not really. Writing is work, and like any job, I just do it. I have processes like outlining, writing every day, and revising, but those are developing as I improve as a writer. I can write anywhere, and at any time.
I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s just that some days are harder than others, like with anything worth doing.
What kind of music do you enjoy listening to, and do you think this links to or influences your writing style in any way?
I like good music. There’s no specific genre. Sometimes I listen to bluegrass jam bands like Railroad Earth or singer-songwriters. At other times, I listen to movie soundtracks like John Barry. I find that soundtracks are excellent brain nourishment when creating a story.
And finally… what are the top five things you spend the most time doing, in order?
Spending time with my family
Washing the blue paint from my body
Scott Thompson’s new book, Eight Days, goes on sale in March 2016. For more information, take a look at Scott’s website.
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