ULT: Hey Scout,
Thank you for agreeing to feature on Unchained Literature.
I thought it would be nice to start by asking when it was you started to write?
SCO: I started writing short stories and scripts at around ten or eleven years old, but my real love for writing novels began much later in 2006. I read “The Beach” by Alex Garland. I don’t know what it was about that book, but it sparked both my love of travel and writing, and I’ve been doing both ever since. It’s my most loved, and read, book.
ULT: I haven’t read The Beach before, can you give us a brief overview of the story or else a favourite scene?
SCO: Well, it’s not like the Leo DiCaprio movie they made! It’s a book about a man with mental health troubles who goes backpacking to find something new and different in life, he finds it in The Beach, which is a hidden paradise on one of Thailands many islands. But there are darker sides to this paradise, and things begin to go very wrong both inside and outside of his mind. It’s such a brave book, but I’ve never met anyone else who has actually read it!
ULT: Do you like to read often?
SCO: I do like to read, although I can go years without picking up a book, I must admit! In 2021 I decided to set a modest goal of 8-10 books, and I’m currently on book 4. It’s definitely a habit I want to develop.
ULT: Four books is a good number and half way towards your goal, especially with your other commitments. Which genre do you like to read most and why?
SCO: My favourite genre is horror. I don’t know why, I’ve always enjoyed it, especially anything about hauntings or possessions. Outside of that I am a sucker for some good unusual romance, like The Time Traveller’s Wife or Never Let Me Go. Anything that is relatable but completely unusual at the same time just pulls me in.
ULT: Have you written any characters which particularly resounded with you? Why did they impact on you more than others?
SCO: The character of my latest work-in-progress definitely has elements of myself in. He’s not had the easiest of lives and he sometimes holds himself back more than he should, which is definitely something I do, too.
ULT: Does having a character which you relate to travel through experiences in your WIP impact on how you carry yourself?
SCO: Not really. I have never been the kind of person who is unable to separate myself from my writing. I put everything into my work, but it’s still just a story at the end of it, and they don’t impact how I treat others or carry myself at all, no.
ULT: Do you find reading or writing provides you with greater escapism/emotional release/positive feeling etc?
SCO: For me, writing holds the most escapism for sure. It happens with reading too, but with writing, the floor is entirely mine. I can go where I please, be who I please, and if I change my mind mid-moment, I can just go with it.
ULT: If when writing you see your characters heading towards great adversity, do you go with the flow or redirect according to the experiences you want to have?
SCO: If it works, then I let it happen. I love putting my poor characters through the grinder, but if it’s starting to feel like a soap opera (as in, I’m just throwing problems at them without a single break) then I dial it back for a bit!
ULT: What do you think about using literature to support mental health and is this something you experience yourself?
SCO: I think it goes back to the escapism angle. Sometimes you simply can’t get away, go for a walk or switch off the world around you by eating a healthy meal or exercising. Sometimes you need a little nudge, and literature is a great way to do that.
ULT: I actually heard this said in an interview I watched on youtube. The escapism provided by literature can be enough to nudge a person out of a state of being or mindset which isn’t serving them. Do you think this is a right book at the right time phenomena or that there is greater opportunity for release found in a particular genre/style of writing?
SCO: Yeah I do, I think sometimes – it’s like those moments when you feel bad or upset, and you put a movie on that you had no intentions of ever watching, and it winds up becoming your favourite movie. Sometimes if you’re down the last thing you need to read is the likes of My Sister’s Keeper. Sometimes you just need Bridget Jones, even if it’s not your thing.
ULT: Would you like to share with us about any work in progress pieces?
SCO: I tend to keep my works private, since I aim to traditionally publish, but it’s essentially a story about a man learning to tolerate himself, so that he can find himself a little better.
ULT: That’s fair enough, no further prying. I feel from this description that there will be plenty of relatable content for readers given the difficultt so many people have with self acceptance these days.
SCO: Yes definitely! I like to think one of my strengths as a novelist is to make my characters as real as possible, without going to that point where they stop feeling fictitious. It’s taken me a lot of writing to get to this point (about 7 unpublished books, in fact), but I’m rather pleased with it so far.
ULT: Thank you. I wish you every success going forward, with traditional publishing. I hope you find lots of inspiration for writing your believable characters through both moving and unusual happenings. Good luck!
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