What is the title of your book?
SB: The Warrior-Son.
What inspired you to write this book?
SB: I tooled around with writing for years, but never finished a story because I’d start something, but not know where it was going. So I stopped writing, but I still kept notes for story ideas, scenes, action sequences, dialogue, character development, etc. I am an avid reader, and after I got married, I often complained to my wife that it was difficult for me to find new books or authors that interested me. My wife had been telling me for some time that I ought to write a book. So I finally went through my pile of notes, and found the ones that pertained to the story idea that was the most fleshed out. Then, unlike my previous attempts years earlier, I used them to construct a story outline.
Can you tell me about the book?
SB: I grew up in the 1970’s, and one of my favorite toys was G.I. Joe. Not the small ones, but the original action figures that were 12 inches tall. There was this neat pile of boulders in the woods off behind my house, and I would take them out there to play. I always wondered what it would be like to live in the world with everything as it is, but only be 12” inches in height. Think of being that small and having to contend with a snake or vulture of actual size. That is the premise of “The Warrior-Son”. The people vary in height from 6 to 12 inches. They’ve created societies that are a blend of Roman, Chinese, and Native American Indian cultures. Some tribes are named after the vegetation they live in, such as the Kudzu or Wisteria tribes. Some are named after the animals they’ve tamed, such as the Hawk, Fox, and Armadillo tribes. Some are named after the traits of certain animals they exhibit, like the Snake and Mantis tribes. There is a caste system, so to speak, as slavery among the tribes is still in existence to some extent, and there is a budding romance between the daughter of a chief and a young man, her personal slave of a lower class tribe who has been trained to serve as her protector. When she is kidnapped, he is promised his freedom if he will find her and return her to her father. Undertaking this task, his journey brings him into encounters will many types of tribes and different scenarios fraught with danger. The plot is full of intrigue, humor, romance, and lots of action.
What is your writing process like?
SB: I construct an outline because I know I need one. I typically know exactly how I want the story to begin and end. Then there are events or circumstances that I want to happen along the way. It is a matter of determining what will work for the story, and arranging them in a sequence that works to move it along properly. Years ago when I tried my hand at writing, I didn’t do that, and the story would suffer because I didn’t know where it was going, and I would never complete them. Knowing the ending I’m working towards and what happens along the way helps me tremendously and keeps me on point.
What did you learn when writing the book?
SB: Oh man, I learned a lot. “The Warrior-Son” was my first novel, and it is an epic, which in retrospect seems really backwards. Like, I should have probably started my NightDragon series first, because those stories are on a smaller scale. But TWS was a terrific writing experience. I really learned to pay attention to plot and pacing. Those are essential keys to a good story. You don’t want to get bogged down on certain issues or in certain settings. However, you don’t want to jump around too much because that can create confusion. Character development is fun, but one has to be careful that initial introductions to a character aren’t just an information dump. You want to set them up properly, but you also want to leave an air of mystery about them to explore and reveal.
What surprised you the most?
SB: A couple of things. Though I was working off an outline, there were subplots that naturally occurred during the writing of the story. Those were interesting and fun to play with, but I was very careful that they never overshadowed the main plot. They are called subplots for a reason. They are meant to be minor and help coax the story along or flesh out supporting characters a little better. The other was staging fight scenes. I loved that. I’m a fan of martial arts films. (I studied Northern Shaolin Kung Fu for almost 10 years.) One thing that always bothers me when reading a fight scene in a book is that it often doesn’t make sense because the descriptions of them are so generic. The fight scenes I write are very stylized and very detailed at times, so as to take the reader into the techniques being used and the trauma they can cause. People who have read this and some of my other books really seem to enjoy that, too.
What does the title mean?
SB: The term ‘warrior-son’ is a title I created that has similar connotations as ‘prince’. As these are tribal cultures, it fits better, which is the same reason tribal leaders are referred to as chiefs rather than kings.
Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who?
SB: Not really. The main character Thorn is more of an amalgamation of certain fictional characters, I guess you’d say. Some from books, some from movies.
What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended?
SB: “The Warrior-Son” is meant to be a trilogy. I’ve already written and published the second part, another epic titled “The Warrior Lost”. I haven’t started on the third yet. I’m still letting that simmer in the back of my mind, and jotting down ideas to use in the outline. I know how it starts and ends though.
What advice do you have for writers?
SB: Be diligent to spend time developing your craft, which has 2 aspects. First, this means reading a lot to expose yourself to how stories can be told. I like all manner of fiction: Westerns, sci-fi, fantasy, action/adventure, horror, crime procedurals, etc. And I have favorite authors within those genres. Each has made an impression on me that I’m sure I incorporate into my own style of writing and storytelling. Second, this also means writing a lot to develop your style and learn how to construct a good story. I was never interested in doing fan fiction, but I know many aspiring writers start out that way, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I guess. There’s already an established universe to work with, and it gives the writer a basis for creating character and plot development without the pressure of world-building, though that can also be fun and good practice. Aspiring writers just have to make an effort to carve out time to both read and write.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
SB: I would say I find it energizing, though there are times it can be exhausting, too. I have a couple of different series; one more sci-fi based, the other more fantasy based. And I enjoy both of the universes and characters I’ve created for them. Both series are very action/adventure driven, too. So I get very energized when it comes time to write a chase or escape or action sequence.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
SB: I think one common trap is subplots. Sometimes those can take on a life that seems to usurp the main story. Another is having an idea that can launch a story, but no real destination as far as how to conclude it. And yet another is having too many stories going on at the same time, which can cause difficulty sticking with one to its finish.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
SB: It’s not just any one thing. Mood, time, the internet, parental responsibilities, television. Really all I need to do is exercise a little self-discipline whenever I set aside time that is supposed to be dedicated to writing and just get into it. When I do that and start getting into the story I’m working on, then I’m okay because I become enthusiastic about it.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
SB: Yeah, for about a split second, and then dismissed the notion. Honestly, and this isn’t meant to be a knock at anyone who uses pseudonyms because I know many writers opt to do that, but for me to do so I felt might create the temptation to write a story that I otherwise might be ashamed to put my rightful name on. And I don’t ever want to do that.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
SB: I try to be original. I don’t care about trends. I’m not trying to write the next young adult vampire romance series or young adult dystopian apocalypse series. There are enough people engaging in that. One of the reasons I began writing was because everything being published had become so run of the mill, and I found it frustrating to find something I wanted to read. If readers want something with a sense of uniqueness and originality, that’s what I try to do. If readers want something that caters to popular culture and the moors of social agenda, that’s not me.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
SB: I’d say a little bit of both. The books in my “Warrior-Son” series, which are epics, are meant to have broad threads of continuity. The stories in my “NightDragon” series are meant as standalone adventures, but have a recurring cast of characters and settings, with some threads of continuity.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
SB: At present I have 2 that are unpublished, just waiting for the cover art to be finished. I have another that is in its second round of editing while trying to get the cover art ready.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
SB: It depends on the topic or issue I’m delving into. I like to try to research what I think I’ll need beforehand. However, sometimes things come up in the course of writing that just brings it to a halt while I take the time to do some research. Often when dealing with whatever those subjects may be, I try to keep the information I incorporate brief, yet informative, and pertinent to the story or character. That way I don’t get myself too far out on a limb talking specifics or details of which I don’t fully understand or can properly represent. At the same time, it gives the story some weight and can serve as point to jump off from in a fictional direction.
How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
SB: Oh, I’m still a part-time writer. Being a full-time writer is the dream.
How many hours a day do you write?
SB: That depends. I try to get in an hour or two in the evenings during the week if I can. Maybe a couple of hours on Sunday afternoons. Saturdays are usually when I can bank some serious time writing if my schedule permits, like maybe 4-5 hours.
What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
SB: I’d say most of my main characters are usually in their mid-20’s to early 30’s.
What did you edit out of this book?
SB: Grammar errors and typos, though some of those sneaky buggers still slip by. Of course, some stuff, like phrases or terms, get edited out because they wind up being condensed or restructured during editing. However, there was one sentence at the end that I edited out, and believe it or not, that made a major difference. That simple omission created a huge impact on both the story in terms of its future direction, and the readers who are left stunned at the book’s conclusion.
How do you select the names of your characters?
SB: I don’t know that I really have a method. I don’t really like standard names for main characters (though it’s hard to get away from that sometimes). I guess a lot of it has to do with if I come up with a name I like, and then determining if it fits or suits the character as I envision them. Sometimes I get lucky the first time out, sometimes it winds up being, “Nah, that doesn’t work.” My work has me traveling sometimes, so names on signs or a combination of them I’ve seen have sometimes proven to be a source of inspiration.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
SB: As far as some sort of creative work? I don’t know. I’ve always had an artistic bent. I studied commercial art for a while, but that’s a tough field to break into. That’s why I went the easier route and started writing. (Hmm, there should have been a small drum roll and a rim shot there.)
What is your favorite childhood book?
SB: It was a giant Tarzan comic book with artwork by Joe Kubert. I can remember my dad reading that to me as a bedtime story.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
SB: That’s hard to specify. “The Warrior-Son” took me 11 months. Its sequel “The Warrior Lost” took me 16 months. But those are epics. The NightDragon books probably take me between 6-8 months. I guess it really depends on the length of the story I’m telling, plus scheduling the time to write.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
SB: Yes, but I can’t say that I’ve ever experienced it yet. I’ve been stuck a few times in a story, but I’ve never felt completely blocked. If I feel boxed in by what’s going on in the story, sometimes the best thing I can do is walk away from it and just let things percolate on the backburner of my mind for a day or so. But you have to be careful about doing that, because it becomes easier to put off dealing with the snag if it hasn’t resolved itself with some sort of epiphany. Then I’ll make myself sit down and review the scene until something comes to me that either offers an avenue by which it can progress, or I may make a minor or major change to the scene so that the story can move forward.
What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?
SB: Computer for me. It lends to speed, and I like seeing what I’m writing so I can deal with the sentence structure as I work. If I’m working on some poetry, I always write that longhand.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
SB: When I completed “The Warrior-Son”. That’s the first full-fledged book I ever wrote. I loved doing it. I was smitten with writing all over again. Now it’s like I’m addicted. I take days off from it now and again, but then I start getting antsy, like a junkie jonesing for a fix.
How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
SB: Initially, it was pretty intimidating to contemplate doing. Having the outline helped a lot, and I knew what my opening line would be. After that first session, I was pleased with what I’d written that day, and eager to continue. Then I was off into it.
Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day?
SB: I can’t say that I do. Some days are better than others as far as making considerable headway regarding page count or word count. It might be a paragraph or two; it might be 3-5 pages. Some days may be spent on sentence restructuring or editing what was written the day before. I still consider that progress.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
SB: I definitely set a plot. I think knowing how a story begins and ends is crucial to determine beforehand. I tried many times before just taking an idea and letting it run, and the story always fizzled out. It seems to me that many indie writers who say they just can’t work by an outline are often the ones who usually have concerns about where their stories are headed, or get sidetracked in a subplot, or they wind up having some difficulty with the plot, or end up dealing with writer’s block. Before I start a story, I go through my notes so that I know how it will start, how it will end, and the things that will happen in between. Then it’s just a matter of structuring those things so that the plot makes sense and flows from beginning to end. That’s not to say I don’t leave myself elbow room for sparks of creativity that occur during the process of writing the story. I do, and that has offered some interesting and fun surprises. But an outline keeps both me and the story on point.
Any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
SB: While I believe do characters take on a life of their own when writing, I do not subscribe to the theory that they begin dictating the course of their actions and the story. I am the writer; the characters are ultimately my creations. They follow my dictates; I don’t follow theirs. I would encourage other writers to keep that perspective in mind. Don’t think of an outline as a boundary to your story, but rather as a framework for it. The plot idea is the skeleton. Character development, course of events, dialogue, setting, etc. are the muscle, tissue, and primary organs that you use to create the body of your story.
Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors?
SB: Oh, man. I read all the time. For fiction, I grew up reading and still read Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and Zane Grey. I also enjoy Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Robert McCammon, Dennis Lehane, Warren Murphy, Eric Van Lustbader, Lee Child, and Andrew Vachss.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
SB: It must entertain in such a way that it takes the reader out of reality so that they completely escape into the story. I know a book is good when I realize I’ve gone through a number of pages, but don’t recall actually reading them because my mind translated the words into something visual, so that I was essentially watching a mental movie. When a book can do that, it’s a keeper.
How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing?
SB: I’d go mental. I’d stand outside yelling, “What’s wrong with you people? I’m the greatest author even known! Well…I’m not known yet, but I will be! And you’ll all be sorry! Wah!” Just kidding. No, I’m sure I’d feel discouraged, but by the same token, I wouldn’t be all that surprised. Still, when people express an interest in your work to the point they are willing to buy a copy of it and want you to sign it…man, that gives you a nice sense of validation.
Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read?
SB: I can’t say I really remember, but odds are it was one of the Tarzan novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
How much of yourself do you put into your books?
SB: Well, I certainly invest certain characters with aspects of myself. I imagine every writer does. I don’t know what percentage I could tell you I do that. And I try not to be blatant about it as far as, say, tailoring the hero so that he looks like me or anything like that. More often I invest them with my sense of humor, or sense of honor and conduct, or something like that. I do like to hide small facts about myself in my stories, like the name of a street I grew up on, or have a character enjoy the same food I do, or a particular movie or book that I like. Stuff like that, which I’m sure other writers do, too.
Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
SB: God first and always, and my wife and daughters.
Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family?
SB: My wife and daughters, and my mom, of course, but especially my oldest daughter Cheyenne. She’s a bit of a bookworm like me, and has always been fascinated by and proud of the fact that I’ve written a number of books.
Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?
SB: I guess that’s true. I think my muse(s) would be the character(s) I create, because they are who I become enamored with while writing.
Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?
SB: Hah! Very. I don’t know why people would think that. Like the vast percentage of artists out there, the majority of us writing labor in obscurity. Writing is more than a hobby; it’s a compulsion. It’s just something we love doing, and the dream is that our work will eventually be recognized and appreciated by readers to the degree that we can give up the day job to pursue it with undivided devotion.
Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts?
SB: Nope. Any author who thinks they do needs to check their pride. It’s one thing to be proud of the fact that you wrote and completed a story. You should be. However, it’s another thing to think that your first draft is spot on perfect right out the gate. Never going to happen.
Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?
SB: Oh yeah.
What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?
SB: I’ve had people approach me about that, but it’s not something I’m interested in doing. I think every author is a control freak to a certain degree, and in a working relationship like that, someone is going to have to be the Alpha writer. And pardon the pun, but I don’t know that we’d always be on the same page about the story, if I were to work with someone else. I’ve got enough ideas to keep me busy for a while. But who knows? Maybe down the road.
Is writing book series more challenging?
SB: I think so, as far as having to stay on top of continuity within the series. There’s also the aspect of keeping your characters challenged without the readers feeling, “Oh no, not this again.” The nice thing about it is that you’ve already created the foundation of a series with its established world-building.
Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier?
SB: Oh yeah. I used to always try to keep a pen and pocket notebook or even just a couple of pieces of paper folded up and handy on my person. Still try to, but now I also have a notebook app on my phone. The problem is that sometimes it’s not always convenient to just stop what you’re doing, like driving, to jot something down. People get mad when I stop to do that in the middle of the interstate.
Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?
SB: Never done that, though I have contributed my fair share of poems to the landfill.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
SB: Currently I have numbers 3 and 4 in my NightDragon series prepping to come out. The NightDragon is my superhero character of the City of Nocturnity. His fighting skills are based in martial arts, and he’s been endowed with certain mystical abilities by a dragon. The first 2 books in the series dealt with his origin and an international trio of costumed criminals. Numbers 3 and 4 have the NightDragon searching for a creature that has escaped from a research and development company. A global terrorist group is also trying to capture it for their own sordid purposes. The project that I’m currently editing is something different for me genre-wise. It has more of a horror element to it. It’s about a magician, the extremes he has gone through for real power, and the consequences of that.
Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day?
Answer: Not that I recall.
Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?
SB: Oh yeah. My dad was the one who hipped me to Zane Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs as a kid. He didn’t really care to read fiction later in life. My mom has always been an avid reader herself.
Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs?
SB: I usually get my wife’s input on the cover art, but as far as story ideas, no.
Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
SB: No. Those are certainly great sources of inspiration, and I know a lot of people use those as a leaping off point to write a story. I’m not saying I never would, just that I haven’t yet.
Scott Blasingame is the author of "The Warrior-Son" saga and "The NightDragon" series as well as other fictional and nonfictional works. He resides in Trussville, Alabama, with his wife and 2 daughters. As a writer, he strives to bring forth interesting characters with good development, plots filled with tension and intrigue, and thrilling action scenes with intricate fight sequences that take the reader into the heart of combat. He also likes to construct heroic characters with a sense of morality and honor, though still subject to moments of flawed human decisions and actions. He also believes comic books are a form of literature. He is a film buff, especially of the martial arts genre, and a big fan of anime and animation. He has been a soldier in the U.S. Military, worked as a land surveyor and photographer, and at one point studied Northern Shaolin Kung Fu for almost 10 years.