SCOTT AUSTIN TIRRELL is the author of 4 fiction novels (with 2 more on the way) and 7 non-fiction books in his Frustrated Writer series. He also maintains his own publishing company, Satirrell Publishing, which publishes journals and project planners on a variety of topics for creative folks. Scott lived in China for over 3 years where he taught English and American business culture to graduate students and executives.
ANGELA: Where do your ideas come from?
SCOTT: I generally start with an image and a single character and see where the muse takes me. For the “Dawn of the Lightbearer”, book 1 in my Absolution of the Morning Star series, this was an old tree in a cave and a young blacksmith’s apprentice. From there, a story bloomed. I’m now writing book three of the series- some 1,200 pages into the story. It’s been an adventure.
ANGELA: Why genres do you write in? And why?
SCOTT: I would say broadly speculative. I’ve written in horror, historical fiction, and sci-fi, but darkish fantasy is where my heart is. I’m fascinated by the medieval period, but I get bogged down in the research for historical fiction. I enjoy the freedom of fantasy and its ability to transcend into other genres.
ANGELA: What is one of your all-time favorite books and why?
SCOTT: It’s a tie. The Damnation Game by Clive Barker is just a comfy Faust-like tale. It is more commercial than his other works, but I’ve read it a dozen times. The second would be Frank Herbert’s Dune– it is just epic world-building.
ANGELA: What is your favorite literary technique/device/element to use in your writing?
SCOTT: I just wrote a blog on something I call dump to dialogue. It is a process of taking an infodump and transforming it into an active dialogue between characters.
ANGELA: What is your writing process?
SCOTT: I used to plan my stories out in detail. I stopped doing that. I now start with a single situation and let it grow organically based on the characters. I may have a specific destination I want to get to, but I don’t like to know how my characters will get there. I let them make their choices based on their personalities and see where it takes them. It doesn’t always work, but it often does. If I don’t know where they will go, my readers likely won’t know either. I like the poetry of that.
ANGELA: How frequently (and for how long/how much) do you write?
SCOTT: I try to write at least 1,000 words a day, every day. It doesn’t always happen, but I try. This usually takes me about two hours. I write from 6 pm-8 pm. If I can fit more writing into my life, I do, but I also have a day job like most writers. You have to pay the bills, right?
ANGELA: Do you already have ideas lined up so that you could immediately start the next story?
SCOTT: Yes, I have about ten ideas percolating right now. I am actively working on two different series. For The Absolution of the Morningstar series, an epic dark fantasy, I am writing the third book of what will be a six-book series. Book one, “Dawn of the Lightbearer”, and two, “The Mourning Son”, are currently available on Amazon. I am also tinkering with the sequel of my first published book, the Island of Stone. This will likely be my next project before continuing with the Morningstar series- I’m about 70 pages in already.
ANGELA: Do you always start the next work immediately after completing one?
SCOTT: I usually take about a month off to promote what I’ve just published, and then it is back to writing. My goal in life is to get two books out a year.
ANGELA: What do you do about writer’s block?
SCOTT: I research for inspiration. All it takes is a little bit of new information to turn the wheels again. Luckily, I’ve not had a severe case of the block, but sometimes I do lose motivation. Some days I don’t want to spend two hours forcing it, but once I get going, I’m usually ok. The best medicine for the block is to just keep writing- even if it all ends up in the bin.
ANGELA: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting out as a writer?
SCOTT: Don’t waste time trying to make it perfect the first go. First drafts are first drafts. Just keep moving forward and get a foundation down on paper. When I was younger, I wasted so much time reading and re-reading what I wrote to get it perfect, only to cut it during editing. It will all work out in the end. Have confidence in your process. Think about writing a novel like climbing a hill. If you look up and try to encapsulate the entire story, you will get overwhelmed. You may even give up. It will also feel like it takes forever. Instead, focus on taking one step at a time, and you’ll get there before you know it!
Interview conducted in May 2022.