Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Scott Gill
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.
I live in Rockwall, Texas, a bustling town on the banks of Lake Ray Hubbard, about 23 miles east of Dallas. I teach English at J.W. Williams Middle School where I also coach football, basketball, and track. I stay pretty busy outside of school as well with my wife of 20 years (June 6) and our 4 children (3 big boys; 17, 15, and 13 and our daughter who is 5). We have lived in the same little house for 15 years, so it is pretty crowded, but it makes for a close family.
2) Describe your journey to becoming an author.
Teaching and coaching is my second career, for the first 15 years I was a church pastor and youth pastor. The ministerial life can be extremely stressful (there are often unrealistic expectations placed on you and family) and so I finally decided to change my career. I have always worked with teenagers and I love it, so I decided to try my hand at teaching. At the same time I had to channel my "ministerial frustrations" and I began to write, mainly journaling at first, then I got the guts to send an article into a religious magazine and they bought it. I couldn't believe my fortune, so I sent another and they kept buying. I think one Christmas I made close to $1000 on articles. I enrolled in The Institute of Children's Literature and began studying the business of writing for children and teens. During those years of the periodic published article, I had some book ideas, but none of them stuck like Goliath Catfish.
3) Do you gravitate toward any particular genre?
I love to write for young adults, mainly adventure stories. Having quite an adventurous childhood and a huge imagination makes that genre more appealing to me than something like romance. I have also written tons of memoir-style stories which my adult friends seem to like.
4) Tell us about your recent release, Goliath Catfish.
It's a story set in the 1940's, in Memphis, Tennessee. Albert McClune is a 12 year old boy, desperately poor. He tries to do what he can to help his family survive like hunt in the woods that surround his little neighborhood. He is big for his age but hardly realizes it because of guilt and shame has cut him down to size. He decides to run away from home, thinking it would be better and easier for his family, and he meets a peculiar kid named, Elijah Amos Fortune Jones. Elijah invites him on a treasure hunt for the last ransom money of gangster, Machine Gun Kelly. The pair risk life and limb in the rat-infested sewers under the city in a race to find the money. Albert will be forced to face his fears and painful past or lose everything he holds dear.
It is a fun adventure tale that is set to come out sometime in July.
5) Describe your path to publication. Has this experience met/exceeded your expectations?
The idea started as an assignment through The Institute of Children's Literature. My instructor, Kevin McColley, after reading some of my initial ideas, encouraged me to keep going, that it had potential. After two years of writing little by little, mostly at 5am, I finally finished. I researched publishers and narrowed my best choices down to three. I sent the manuscript to my first choice and waited and prayed. Eight months later I learned they had never received the manuscript and wanted me to resend a copy. No sooner than I mailed it, I learned of a new publisher, Glass Page Books (www.glasspagebooks.com), and they seemed like a good fit. I emailed a query and received a response a few hours later, they wanted a full manuscript. I mailed it and while camping with my boys in Tennessee, I received a call, they wanted it!
6) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?
Promotion is my big challenge at the moment, in fact, it has taken time away from writing on a new idea... I have had to learn how to build a website (www.scotttgill.com), write press releases, and create bookstore flyers. The internet is a huge help with Facebook and now, I have a Twitter ( follow me @scotttgill5). As far as success in promotion, we'll have to see come July. Oh, and I have some launch parties in the works (Roma's Books of Rockwall!!!), fortunately, I have taught hundreds of students that are excited about the work and I am blessed with a great group of friends and family.
7) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your respective reading lists right now?
I am a student of C.S. Lewis (my Master's thesis was on his last novel, Till We Have Faces) and have read nearly everything he and J.R.R. Tolkien wrote. I also love to read Mark Twain, Gary Paulsen, Suzanne Collins, and J.K. Rowling. Presently, I have really gotten into Ernest Hemingway and am almost finished with The Old Man and the Sea.
8) When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? Describe a typical day in your life.
With four kids, life is seldom slow and boring. I'm a teacher and a coach so I have to get up and write early during the week, then I head to school where I teach English to 8th graders, direct a college preparatory program called AVID, and coach football, basketball, and track. I try to work out and stay in shape when I have the time, then on the weekends, I am typically at a lacrosse field watching my boys play, or at the park with my daughter, or watching movies with my wife. Every once in a while, I'll take my boys camping or fishing at a nearby pond.
9) What projects do you have in the works?
I am writing a new story that will take place in the Reelfoot Lake area in Northwest Tennessee and deal with a modern Night Rider movement (the Night Riders were a Ku Klux Klan type of group in the 1900's that terrorized the area in order to secure rights to live and fish on the lake, to read the history of the Night Riders, a good book is The Night Riders of Reelfoot Lake by Paul Vanderwood).
10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?
Write as much as you can when you can. Be persistent, diligent, and patient. Learn all you can from others who have been before you.
About the Author
He’s earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from The University of Memphis, and a Masters degree in theology from the Dallas Theological Seminary.He also studied writing for children and teenagers under the tutelage of H.M.Hoover and Kevin McColley through The Institute of Children’s Literature. Scott is a member of the Texas High School Coaches Association, the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Scott Gill lives in Rockwall, Texas with his wife, Angie and their four children.