J. Todd Scott On his novel This Side of Night, writing, and inspirations. | More2Read
 

J. Todd Scott On his novel This Side of Night, writing, and inspirations.



J. Todd Scott was born in rural Kentucky and attended college and law school in Virginia, where he set aside an early ambition to write to pursue a career as a federal agent. His assignments have taken him all over the U.S and the world, but a badge and gun never replaced his passion for books and writing. He now resides in the American Southwest, and when he’s not hunting down very bad men, he’s hard at work on his next book.

His debut novel, THE FAR EMPTY, was published June 7, 2016 by Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The sequel, HIGH WHITE SUN was released March 20, 2018

His next, THIS SIDE OF NIGHT, is due July 16, 2019

He is represented by CK Webber of the Fuse Literary Agency, and can be hunted down at JTODDSCOTT.COM.


The Interview with J. Todd Scott


Lou Pendergrast

Welcome and thanks for this time out of your writing life.

Congratulations on your new novel This Side of Night, your third book to be released.

Share a little bit please about this tale, and what do you hope to communicate with this work?

 

J. Todd Scott

This is the third book in the Big Bend series; and although all three books are nominally about the young sheriff, Chris Cherry, this story focuses extensively on America Reynosa, one of Chris’s deputies. We’ve followed America (and watched her grow up) from the very first novel, THE FAR EMPTY, and this book closes the arc on her long-standing family issues on both sides of the border.


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Lou Pendergrast

The seed and inspiration behind this, what were they?

 

J. Todd Scott

I wanted to go south for the first time in the series and draw a little attention to the complexities many families face that straddle both sides of the border. America is bound by blood to a significant cartel figure, and as much as she’d tried to escape that legacy, it’s haunted her through the series to date. Having worked drug and cartel cases as long as I have on the border and the Southwest, I wanted to bring more of that real-life experience to bear than I have in any of the previous books. This story has more DEA craft than all the others combined.


 

LP

Your debut novel The Far Empty received praise and success, what was it like sending that one into the world, crafting it down on the page, time length, and your initial and post 3 year anniversary tell me your thoughts on that and experience please?

 

J. Todd Scott

THE FAR EMPTY was warmly received, and I’m so grateful for that. I think my ignorance of publishing helped me when it was released, because I had so few expectations or knowledge about the “industry;” I was just thrilled that people were finding the book and responding to it. That first book was so easy to write and edit, and although the others haven’t necessarily been harder to pull together (and my process really hasn’t changed much) I’ve definitely felt the weight of expectations a little more with each one. It still amazes me to see my books out in the world, and that feeling will never get old.



 

LP

Writing, when, where, and with what do you do it?

 

J. Todd Scott

I write every day, early in the morning, before heading to my office. I knock out about two hours a day during the regular work week and try for four hours each day on the weekends. Because my job as a federal agent is demanding and time intensive, I don’t have a large margin of error for getting these books finished – I treat my writing as a second job and approach it that way, every day. If I finish a book on a Friday, I start another on Saturday. None of that sounds glamorous or fun or particularly “artistic,” but that’s what works for me. I don’t use any fancy tools or programs – I just work in Microsoft Word. I do some index card storyboarding as I write sometimes, and I’ve shown examples of those storyboards on my Instagram, Twitter, and author website, but even that’s decidedly low-tech! Just some colored notecards and a push pins.


Scott’s great writing space.


 

LP

What key writing advice would you share.

 

J. Todd Scott

I get asked this a lot, and I don’t know that I have a great answer. I know what works for me, and I think the key thing for any writer is finding their “process” – whatever it takes to get the words consistently on the page. I think you have to be credible and fearless and write what you want to read, most of all, and be willing to live with the fact that not every story is for every reader.


 

LP
Hobbies, anything you have a passion to and enjoy?

 

J. Todd Scott

Fortunately, writing is both my passion and my hobby, and although I struggle at times with the business side of publishing, those moments when I sit down to work on a new story are still my favorite. I’ve also been fortunate enough to branch out into film and TV writing (scripts and screenplays), and I’ve really enjoyed that, as well. Beyond that, I like catching a good movie, or trying a new whiskey or craft beer.


 

LP

Who are memorable characters from fiction?

 

J. Todd Scott

I’m going to cheat and go off-genre and very topical – I’ve always been fascinated with the character of Jaime Lannister from A Game of Thrones. It’s debatable whether the HBO series did justice to the character in the end, but as a fictional character – a true villain – his “redemptive arc” in the book series has been handled masterfully.

 




 

LP

Western movies and noir which ones your re-watch list?

 

J. Todd Scott

I love The Wild Bunch, Unforgiven, The Long Riders, and High Plains Drifter; and the more recent remake of True Grit was exceptional, as well. I’ve also made no secret about how I can constantly re-watch Alien, Blade Runner, Heat, To Live and Die in L.A, and the newer Hell or High Water.



 

LP

Authors and their books that your re-read and inspired you to set upon the road of the aspiring writer?

 

J. Todd Scott

This one is always tough, because I’ve been influenced by so many. I’m a passionate and wide-ranging reader. Plus, I took a very long hiatus in writing – more than 25 years. I can say that Cormac McCarthy, James Carlos Blake, James Lee Burke, and James Ellroy all have influenced me at one point or another. But honestly, there are so many writers in other genres, such as William Gibson, Stephen King, and George RR Martin, who I admire and shamelessly emulate as well!



 

LP

Share one thing that has delivered light and happiness into your life since becoming a writer and published author.

 

J. Todd Scott

It’s been amazing to meet people who’ve read my stories and found something worthwhile in them. Every time I get to sit down and talk about one of my books with someone is an incredible gift. I’ve also been fortunate to meet so many other writers that I admire. And I have to say, whether I ever publish another a book again, I’m still a father to three amazing girls, and that’s probably more important and worthwhile than any story I’ll ever write.


 

LP

What Todd Scott creation can we expect next.

 

J. Todd Scott

I’m thrilled that my next book, LOST RIVER, is already set for next year. It’s a departure from my Big Bend books and takes place in eastern Kentucky. I’m originally from Kentucky, and long wanted to write something about my home. Although it’s set against the backdrop of the opioid crisis, I hope I’ve found a little something new to say about it, and I’m very, very, excited for this book to come out.


 

Lou Pendergrast

Thank you for these insightful minutes on writing and inspirations.

 

J. Todd Scott

Thank You!

 



Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 30 May 2019