Today we have the privilege of interviewing Scott Appleton. Scott is a freelance fiction writer whose works focus on middle-grade and young adult readers. His first fantasy novel, Swords of the Six, was widely received and soon followed by its sequels Offspring and Key of Living Fire. He has been married to his wife Kelley for five years, with whom he has three children.
He is family-focused in his writing career, and always looking for opportunities to create books that will appeal to middle-graders and young adult readers. A devout Christian, he seeks to create stories that honor traditional family values.
Currently he is expanding his writing career through new writings and growing his AuthorAppleton brand. He and his family currently live in the submarine capital of the world, Groton, Connecticut.
And now onto our interview!
1) Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours?
My specialty is business and sales, so when I decided to get my first book published I mapped out a plan to meet that objective. I began with query letters and, of course, I received my first rejection letters. Then I read as many books on publishing and writing as I could get my hands on before going to a writer’s conference in New Mexico. This was my first opportunity to “sell” an editor on my finished manuscript. I approached Dan Penwell of AMG Publishers and he took an interest. What followed was two years of back and forth with the publishing house, leading eventually to an unexpected last minute rejection by other members of the publishing committee.
But I had a contingency plan. Based on my research I knew that six out of ten novels published never sell over a thousand copies. So I established my own publishing company using connections I’d made in the industry, outsourcing for editing, artwork, design, and typesetting. The finished product was Swords of the Six, a fantasy novel. I held book signings at Borders bookstores as well as any other venue I could get into and sales were promising, but I knew that the book’s first year would come to a swift close and I needed to achieve the sales figure I wanted.
My wife agreed that we needed to step out in faith and let God take us wherever opportunity arose. I quit my day job and we hit the road in our car. We traveled eleven states in about five months, primarily holding store signings and school events. When all was said and done we’d sold over three thousand books.
AMG Publishers had undergone some changes in their editorial department and they invited me in upon hearing of my success. Soon afterward they offered me a contract on my first three novels.
Now I am primarily focused on building books again on my own publishing company and in finishing a novel for my agent to shop to a different publishing house.
2) When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
It’s been said before that writers are born, not made. I think that holds true with me. I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be a writer. Stories and the emotions they evoked always held my attention.
3) Tell us a little about your books.
I write primarily in the fantasy genre, but I enjoy branching into science fiction as well. My first novels are in The Sword of the Dragon series: Swords of the Six, Offspring, and Key of Living Fire.
In ancient times a band of warriors escorted a young prince homeward. Only one warrior remained true. He watched helplessly as the others slew their young charge. Death seemed to claim him as well. But he awoke one thousand years later, brought back by the prophets of God to serve them once again as an invisible guardian. One of the prophets, an albino dragon, hatched human daughters out of eggs by giving them the life in his blood. These daughters were sent into the world to find the traitors who escaped and to bring them to justice before their corruption spread farther.
The Sword of the Dragon series has been a lot of fun to write and readers are crazy about the characters! This series is now branching into other series as well, starting with my new release Neverqueen.
4) What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
Growing up I loved world history. I think I have taken most of my inspiration from historical events and from circumstances and events in my own life.
5) Who are your books aimed at? If applicable: What are some of the challenges of writing for your audience?
Originally we were targeting Young Adult readers for The Sword of the Dragon series. It ended up drawing heavily from Middle School readers and middle-aged readers as well. I think I best identify with middle grade and YA.
6) What was your favorite book as a teen?
A: I read so extensively that it’s hard to narrow that down, but I would say my favorite book would be Pilgrim’s Progress. That old allegorical classic burned itself into my memory like no other.
7) What are your hopes for your future as an author?
To get back to writing and promoting full-time, instead of balancing a day job with my writing career.
8) If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
I think it would have to be: Jesus, King Solomon, and Nicola Tesla because the combination would better equip me to live and write from conviction and ingenuity.
9) What were some of the challenges for you writing your book?
The biggest challenge is the evolution of the characters when writing sequels. Ilfedo has changed a lot from that youth in Swords of the Six. Specter has tempered his aggression with hope. And Ombre has lost much of his youthful carelessness in his pursuit of the beautiful Caritha. Oganna has changed, too, but she will do so even more in the next books in The Sword of the Dragon series.
10) What do you want readers to take away from your book?
A: That life is too short and precious to miss an opportunity to stand for what is right. And that we must leave a legacy for future generations that will guide them to God.
11) In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?
My worldview shapes every story I write. I am a Bible-believing Christian with traditional values and I seek to reinforce those values in the minds of my readers.
12) What can you tell us about any future releases you have planned?
Neverqueen a new fantasy series will see book 1 available October 2014
In Search of Dragons (The Sword of the Dragon book 4) is coming Fall 2015
Neverqueen 2: The Suffering Chalice has a tentative release date of Spring 2015.
13) Star Wars or Star Trek?
Both! Although I will admit to watching Star Trek more often than Star Wars. Really I’m a bit of a geek with both. If you see a Jedi knight named AuthorAppleton running around in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO game, that’s me!
14) Favorite season?
I like the Fall, but my wife loves the Summer and she’s starting to convert me on that!
15) Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what are some examples?
I love classical. When I write I have a variety of tracks that I listen to for the benefit of mood. Rudy soundtrack, Two Steps from Hell, Tron soundtrack, Thor soundtrack, How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack, Tchaikovsky classical, etc.
Thanks, Scott, for joining us today! Here is where you can find Scott Appleton online: