Name – Scott Kaelen
Age – 36
Where are you from? – Originally from Northern England, but since 2010 I’ve settled in Germany.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Scott: Let’s see … Well, I’m a reasonably new indie author. My first story was released on Kindle in Sep’ 2014, entitled When Gods Awaken. My next short story followed in October, entitled Bleak ‘93. I have several projects in the works, ranging from a slowly-growing collection of poetry up to an epic fantasy series, with lots of stuff in-between. My next releases will be out in the next couple of months – the first of the epic fantasy stories, and a collection of slipstream short stories. Lots of stuff going on!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Scott: The way I tell it is this: I was lay in the bath one day, pondering my life and asking myself what I was good at. Being jobless, living in a foreign country and struggling with the language, and suffering from ever-worsening eyesight, I came to the conclusion that the thing I was best at was using words. While I was right, I can tell you the climb from non-writer to self-published author was a steep one that lasted almost three years. If you’re going to do something, you should do it right or not at all.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Scott: As soon as I’d mastered the golden guidelines of how not to write prose that really sucks! Things like keeping a tight character perspective, employing “show, don’t tell”, learning about scenes and sequences, tightening my grammar, expanding my vocabulary, and all the other bits of fine-tuning that can make the difference between a so-so writer and a good one. I sincerely hope I fall into the latter category now, but whne I look back at some of my earliest drafts – oh, boy!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Scott: I won’t lie. My main inspiration for my increasingly more complex epic fantasy and connected stories (and an ever-growing world/universe) was the vast level of detail Tolkien put into the world of Arda and all its lore, and how it took him 12 years (if I remember correctly) to write Lord of the Rings from start to finish. I thought, “Surely, given 12 years, I can produce something equally magical …?” So that’s my aim!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Scott: As far as character point-of-view goes, I favour third person limited. You can do a lot with a nice, tight perspective. I don’t really have a solid style, especially since I write across so many genres, but I hope I have what readers can identify as a “writer’s voice”.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Scott: The title of my short story creationist parody is When Gods Awaken. It’s called this because it dares to go back further than the book of Genesis in the Old Testament. Genesis starts with its main character (God) already in existence. “WGA” begins before the deity is even born. In fact, the opening scenes are written in the perspective of another – more mysterious – character, who is loosely connected to my in-development epic fantasy series. The scene then switches to the cosmic deity in the moments it opens its eyes and gazes out at creation, believing itself to be responsible for the existence of all it sees. There’s a heavy irony at play there!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Scott: Absolutely! And this is where it gets controversial. When Gods Awaken is a creationism parody, as I’ve already mentioned, but more importantly it’s a religious parody, because, in my view, organised religions ought to be picked apart, scrutinised deeply, poked fun at, ridiculed – but also taken very seriously as things that can only harm humanity – and ultimately torn to shreds. My message is that religion is ridiculous, and it’s my hope that many readers will grasp this. I fully expect to get bad reviews and knee-jerk reactions from Christians and creationists, but I hope for many more positive responses from the more open-minded of people across the world.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Scott: Lots of it, actually! Okay, some of it is based on scientific hypotheses such as the Big Crunch and the “heat death of the universe”, but you’ll also find Neanderthals there, and Gigantopithecus (extinct giant apes), as well as theories on the location of the Garden of Eden, based on geological findings. I’ve put a lot of work into the details of When Gods Awaken, even though it’s not even 5000 words long; what it lacks in length it makes up for in detail!
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Scott: Not really. It’s more of a culmination of things that fascinate me: religion, creation, Earth history, geology, paleontology, cosmology, mythology, and a bunch of other stuff.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life?
Scott: I suppose the biggest influences are the books (or rather the authors) I read as I was growing up. The ones that spring immediately to mind are: Isaac Asimov, David Gemmell, RA Salvatore, Tracy Hickman, Brian Lumley, James Herbert, Stephen Reynolds, and Douglas Adams.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Scott: That’s easy. It’s Isaac Asimov. The man was a genius and a gentleman. He was a great science fiction writer, but he also wrote non-SF. He was a prolific scientist, had a brilliant and free-thinking mind, and was an atheist who wasn’t afraid to speak out against the harm and the implausibility of religion.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Scott: I’m close to finishing Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself. A book I recommend whole-heartedly to fans of epic/dark fantasy.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Scott: Other than Abercrombie, there’s Tom Lloyd, who deserves a lot more recognition for his Twilight Reign series than he has received.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I listed some of them briefly earlier, but in a bit more detail they’re as follows: A poetry collection. My poems can be whimsical, or hard-hitting, thought-provoking, concerning deep science or psychology. Lots of fun and not-so-fun stuff. In a similar vein I’ve got a large collection of drafted essays on themes such as religion, atheism, humanity, the universe, neurology, evolution and everything in-between. I plan on polishing those up and compiling them into a non-fiction release. Then there’s my epic fantasy series. The first full-length novel is a slow process, currently about a quarter finished. Before that there’ll be at least three “origin tales” ranging from short story length to novella length. And lastly I’ve got five short stories I’m in the final touches of putting together as a single release (subject to change) in the genres of urban low fantasy, zombie apocalypse love story, neo-noir science fiction, and hard experimental science fiction.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Scott: Oh, that would definitely have to be the universe. It has a way of keeping things in the balance (without employing intelligence whatsoever.)
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Scott: I can only wish! As I mentioned earlier, I have very bad eyesight and I live in a country that doesn’t speak my native tongue and doesn’t cater to people – foreigners, specifically – who are severely sight impaired. I would like to think as my journey into the world of being an author grows, so will I gain a larger fan-base. Each of my releases has to carry its own weight, though, and these first short stories are the literary equivalent of me testing the waters.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Scott: No. The only criticism I’ve received is that, being a short story, it’s over too soon. Perhaps one day I’ll return to the characters of When Gods Awaken and continue their story.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Scott: It was a natural continuation to being an avid reader with a keen grasp of the English language. The next logical step was to become a writer. I had my “Eureka!” moment in the bath that day, and it seemed perfectly fitting.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Scott: Well, let’s see. I can tell you a bit about one of the epic fantasy origin tales I’m working on that should be out early next year. It’s about hired swords who travel to a distant, dead city. Here’s the blurb: Three companions contracted to retrieve an artefact from an ancient graveyard shrouded in legend were set to earn the bounty of a lifetime. It should have been easy. It almost was, but for one small detail they didn’t consider: Within each legend lies a vestige of truth.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Scott: I don’t favour action scenes at all. I don’t shy away from them! I just don’t like writing them as much as I enjoy dialogue and more visceral settings. When I know there’s an action bit coming up I don’t look forward to tackling it.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Scott: It has to be David Gemmell. Sadly, he died several years ago, but he was considered to be Britain’s leading author of heroic epic fantasy. What really separated him from the crowd was his dialogue, how his characters were able to delve into the human mind and explore its depths. Gemmell’s novels were always riddled with moralistic points and deep discussions, often tackling the hardest of subjects.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Scott: Not yet! Though when it comes to travelling I’m somewhat impeded by my lack of adequate sight. Perhaps one day I’ll have to get out there, but at the moment it’s financially pointless since no one’s heard of me!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Scott: I designed the covers for When Gods Awaken and Bleak ‘93, my two published stories so far. I’ve also designed several covers for my epic fantasy stories. I might consider hiring a professional in future, but I don’t think I’ve done such a bad job of it myself. It would be great to get a little feedback on that from my readers.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Scott: For someone with a wavering attention span like me, the hardest part is to stay focused on one project. I find I tend to flit between things, shifting to wherever the muse takes me from one day to the next. If I’m to be critical about myself, I would say I need more discipline to stay on one project until its conclusion.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Scott: Every story I write requires some level of research, so I learn something new with each story. But I think the main thing I’ve learned is that characters, when given the depth and dimension they deserve, can and will take your story in directions you couldn’t have foretold. There’s a magic to a fleshed-out character, something indefinable.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Scott: Listen to the good advice of your fellow writers! Don’t turn your nose up at receiving peer critiques. Accept them, however harsh they may be. Learn the golden guidelines for becoming a great writer. Don’t just settle for throwing a sloppily-written story out there with weak prose and two-dimensional, clichéd characters. Learn. Study. Sweat and bleed and cry. And listen!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Scott: Stay true to yourself. Don’t hide in fear from the world. If you’ve got something to say, say it loud and mean it. But you need to understand what’s in your head first. Don’t just blurt out a bunch of nonsense. Follow goodness, morality, humanity, reason, logic, critical thinking.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Scott: The first “book” I read was a waterproof thing with ten or so pages I had as a bath toy! But the earliest book I remember the title of – possibly the first book I hired out of the library – was called Alien Citadel by Douglas Hill, released in 1985, the year I got my library ticket as a present for my seventh birthday.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Scott: I laugh a lot more than I cry. I laugh at absurdity, even where there’s not meant to be any humour. I love the likes of the Monty Python crew, Simon Pegg, Eddie Izzard, Matt Berry, Armando Iannucci, Christopher Morris, Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt … That’s my kind of comedy. To get a hint of an idea of what makes me sad, my eyes get a bit watery and my chest a bit tight every time I watch the final scenes of Bicentennial Man. Make of that what you will!
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Scott: I would love to meet Isaac Asimov, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. He was just an all-round great guy. I would also like to meet the Bibical figure Abraham – the father of the Abrahamic faiths – and stop him before he even began. I’d also like to meet Muhammad – the central figure of the Quran – and tell him it’s really not cool to marry a nine year old girl.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Scott: Given the choice I’d be “buried” in deep space, a bit like Frank Poole from Arthur C Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, who returns in 3001: Final Odyssey when his corpse is found drifting somewhere near Jupiter after being in space for 1000 years. He’s revived, and experiences the wonders of a future civilization. Yeah, that would beat getting buried in the mud. But if I had to have something written on a headstone, it would be a quote borrowed from Blackadder: “Here lies Scott, and he’s bloody annoyed!”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Scott: I also like to sketch. I draw concepts for my characters, but I more often draw things like celebrities or TV/film characters I like, or friends and family, zombies, animals, and some other stuff. You can see some of my work on my places across the internet.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Scott: I’m a sci-fi geek. Well, a semi-geek, anyway. I love Stargate, Farscape, Star Trek, and shows like that. And I’ve already listed some of my favourite comedians. When it comes to fantasy there isn’t really much on the screen I enjoy; I don’t know why that is. And, shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I also enjoy a good romantic movie once in a while. Before Sunrise is one of my favourite movies of all time. Another of my favourite movies is The Man From Earth.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music?
Scott: Favourite foods are stuff I make myself: tuna pasta, shepherd’s pie, roast dinner. Oh, and I made a Christmas pudding this year. It smells and looks gorgeous, but only time will tell if it tastes or not! My favourite colours are deep red, beige, black and white. The music genres I listen to are mainly electro, rock, metal and indie. My favourite bands are VNV Nation, Avantasia, The Wildhearts, Ashbury Heights, Chris Norman, Blutengel, Tanya Donelly, Frozen Plasma, Iron Maiden, to name but a few. An eclectic taste (some say an awful taste!)
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Scott: It would have been really cool if I’d become an archaeologist, a la Indiana Jones. Or maybe an astronaut. Something that took me to some amazing places, either on or off this world. Both, preferably!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Scott: I do. I don’t post very frequently, but when I do it tends to be about the universe, the human mind, religions, and similar stuff. It’s not my own site, but a WordPress blog. It’s http://scottkaelenofficial.wordpress.com I also have a Twitter account where I don’t always tout one or other of my stories. My Twitter ID is Scott_Kaelen And my Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/scottkaelenofficial/timeline