Welcome back to the working week, and to ease you into it, we’ve got Andrew Scott, author of the short story collection Naked Summer, telling us about the influence of comic books and how he never (!!!) gets writer’s block.
P53: What do you do to combat writer’s block?
AS: I don’t suffer from writer’s block. I’m never short on ideas, for one thing. I have a few files where I keep ideas for stories, novels, graphic novels, and screenplays, and there are enough solid ideas in these files to keep me writing for the rest of my life. More ideas are always pouring in, as well. For me, the battle is finding the time to write, carving out not only the hours but the creative mindset it takes to compose new lines, new paragraphs, new pages. Revision is always easier. I’m also an editor, and editing someone else’s lines, paragraphs, and pages is also always easier. When I have carved out the time and mindset to create something new, the words usually come—maybe not as quickly as I would prefer, but beggars can’t be choosers, as my father likes to say.
P53: You can only listen to one album for the rest of your life; what is it?
AS: My favorite rock album is Into Another’s Ignaurus. But if I could only listen to one album for the rest of my life, my greedy ears would crave a longer album, or a double-album. I can’t write when music with words is playing, though, and in this mono-album universe you’ve assigned, I would certainly want to write. I’ll say John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
P53: What was the first story you ever wrote?
AS: The first I remember was an X-Men story for two classmates to draw. They were amazing artists—I’m still friends with one of them. I set up the beginning of the story in the style of Chris Claremont, the long-time writer of The Uncanny X-Men and the writer I most wanted to be when I was fourteen. I had the X-Men gather for a meal; a character named Forge, whose mutant power allows him to build anything he imagines, tries to make pizza for the group. Irony of ironies is that, in my story, Forge can build invisible spaceships, but can’t make a decent pie. Galaxy-spanning wars would come later. Wolverine would pop his claws and be the best there is at what he does. Superhero fights on every page. This was only the introduction, maybe five pages. The artists were not pleased that this is all “the writer” could manage, and they ditched me.
My first attempt at literary fiction was awful. It was based on a campus news article about a domestic dispute. In the news story, the defendant’s name was Martin, but with my vast creative powers, I was able to change it to Martan. I’ll say no more, except that I improved rapidly when I started reading good books.
The first story I wrote that seemed any good is now called “Lost Lake,” and is included in Naked Summer.
P53: Tell us a little bit about the last book you read. Would you recommend it?
AS: Right now I’m reading Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Birds of a Lesser Paradise slowly, one story every other night, and I just started Alicia Bessette’s A Pinch of Love.
The last book I finished was Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster, which I devoured in less than four hours. It’s a short novel—shorter, even, than The Great Gatsby—and it tells the story of a Red Lobster’s last night in business through the eyes of its GM, Manny, who can’t help but remain dedicated to his corporate overlords, despite his best interests. It conjured all sorts of memories of my five years working at a restaurant, for which I am thankful.
Before that, I read Richard Ford’s Canada, Sean Howe’s Marvel: The Untold Story, Jim Harrison’s Farmer, Matthew Quick’s Boy21 and The Silver Linings Playbook, and deluxe editions of Bill Willingham’s Fables. I recommend them all.
P53: Do you go through any sort of ritual before you begin writing?
Three Facts about Andrew:
1. I won a St. Louis Cardinals towel at an amusement park by throwing a baseball and correctly guessing its speed. It will please my publisher to learn it was 53 miles per hour. I used to throw harder.
2. I’m not even the best writer in my household.
3. I’m in a fantasy baseball league with one of the writers I named above. And I’m not half-bad this year.