Author Interview with Scott Pratt
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Scott Pratt author of the Joe Dillard series of legal thrillers. Scott also authored some children’s books and few other works that he mentions during our chat.
Hi Scott, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in South Haven, Michigan, a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, in 1956. My family lived there until my father got a job in Tennessee in 1969. I have one older sister and three younger brothers. Both of my parents are gone now. I’ve had lots of jobs, including practicing law for a time, and I spent some time in the U.S. Air Force, where they taught me to speak Korean.
What were you like at school?
I was bright and athletic, a bit precocious at times. I always got Straight-As and always tested in the top percentiles of the national intelligence tests. I also wouldn’t go back to class on time when the bell rang because I was playing basketball on the playground and I got kicked off of the safety patrol in the fifth grade (I was the captain – top dawg) for taking a puff off a cigarette on the bus.
Were you good at English?
I was. I had a knack for it.
What are your ambitions for your writing career and being an author?
To write the best stories I can write and sell as many of them as possible.
Which authors inspire you?
Different people – Samuel Clemens inspired me, as did Harper Lee. I love Paulo Coelho and J.D. Salinger. John Steinbeck’s voice touches me, but so does Mike Royko’s.
So, what have you written?
7 Books in the Joe Dillard Series: An Innocent Client, In Good Faith, Injustice for All, Reasonable Fear, Conflict of Interest, Blood Money and A Crime of Passion.
I also wrote a literary fiction novel set in the late 1960s called “River on Fire.” I just finished a standalone thriller called “Justice Served.”
I’ve written two childrens books: “An Elephant’s Standing in There” and “A Ride on a Cloud,” both of which my daughter, Kody Storm Rowe, illustrated.
Where can we buy or see them?
You can buy everything on my website or Amazon.com, including the foreign translations.
Give us an insight into Joe Dillard. What does he do that is so special?
I think Joe’s appeal is his humanity. He genuinely tries to do the right thing in a world where even knowing what the right thing to do is difficult. He’s a devoted father and husband and he’s generally a selfless man in a world where selfishness has become commonplace.
What new projects do you have in the works?
The new book I wrote for Thomas & Mercer Publishing is called “Justice Served.” It’ll be released in January of 2016. As soon as I finish the final draft, I’m going to write the eighth Dillard.
Why do you write?
Hard to say. Why does anyone do what they do? Something inside me drives me to do it, and something else drives me to try to do it well.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
My wife and I both read “The Lincoln Lawyer” and she looked at me and said, “You can write as good as he can. Why don’t you try it?” So I did.
Tell us about your writing habits, favorite tools, etc. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
When I’m in a good phase, I write from 7:00 a.m. to noon six days a week. I write on a PC and I try to get at least three thousand words done. Doesn’t always happen, but that’s the goal every day.
Where do your ideas come from?
The world around me. Newspapers, magazines, books, television, people watching. I get ideas from everywhere. I’m a professional thief.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I don’t like to outline. I think it makes the writing stale. I take a small idea and just let it happen.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’m not really sure how to answer that one, either. I’ve evolved as far as being disciplined. I’ve become a better craftsman. I tend to appreciate the work I do and the work done by others more than I used to. I take it more seriously than I used to, although I try not to take it too seriously.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Opening up a vein each time I sit down to write.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
There isn’t anything easy about writing. Nothing.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About eight hundred hours, give or take.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I’m well-read but I don’t read a lot when I’m writing, and I try to keep writing. I find myself mimicking writers if I read while I’m working. I mentioned my favorites above.
What book/s are you reading at present?
I’m reading collections of H.L. Mencken’s essays and columns, along with a collection of Mike Royko’s columns right now. Just finished Bob Dugoni’s “My Sister’s Grave,” which was excellent.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
Both. I go through them and then I start paying people.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I do. I really think it helps to let it sit awhile and let the flavors meld.
Who edited your book and how did you select him/her?
When I was doing traditional stuff, the house picked the editor. I contracted others. It was pretty much hit or miss.
Tell us about the covers and how they came about.
With the big houses like Penguin, the writers have no input into cover design. When I went to Indie publishing, I designed them myself, along with the help of one of my friends. Now I let Createspace handle it, and they do an excellent job.
Who designed your book covers?
Createspace designed the Dillard series. Nathan Wampler designed “River on Fire.” Thomas & Mercer will design “Justice Served.”
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
It plays an important part in the getting noticed process, but covers don’t sell books. Good stories sell books.
What are your thoughts on publishing? (*e.g. Indie, traditional or hybrid)
I could write a book about this topic alone. Too much material to cover in one question.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors on any aspect of writing, publishing, marketing, etc.?
First off all, be painfully honest when you ask yourself whether you’re really any good at this. If you are, then don’t quit. Talent and persistence are the keys to becoming successful.
How do you relax?
I drink vodka while juggling chainsaws.
What is your favourite motivational phrase.
It came from my grandfather. He said, “The sun don’t shine up the same dog’s ass every day. If it did, it’d warp his ribs.”
What is your favourite book and why?
I think “Green and Eggs and Ham” is my favorite of all time, followed closely by “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
I think I’ll probably have a little more money and a little more prestige, but other than that, I don’t see much changing.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t drink so much.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
That’s another topic I could write about for a long time. It depends upon which part of publishing you’re asking about. Publishing will change a great deal, but it will also stay the same.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Scott, thank you so much for taking time away from your writing to do this interview. I wish you the best of luck and maybe we’ll see a book or two on Indie publishing from you, along with the next adventure of Joe Dillard.