Scott Keen, a young adult fantasy author is here today chatting with me about his new novel, Scar of the Downers.
Are you ready to dip your toe into a different world? Read on!
Scott Keen grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn't want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing--he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools.
Welcome, Scott. Please tell us about your current release.
Scar of the Downers is a young adult fantasy about two slaves named Crik and Jak, who, because of situations out of their control, are thrust into a difficult spot. Do they stay in the dark city of Ungstah under Kilvar, their cruel owner, or do they try and escape, knowing if they fail it is guaranteed certain death? It is a story about finding hope when no hope appears to exist. It’s about rising above the scars that one bares in life, about breaking free from the things that hold you down. Ultimately, it’s about freedom. How far would you go to seek it? How much pain would you endure to capture it?
What inspired you to write this book?
Eight or nine years ago, while I was still in graduate school, I started writing a short story. It wasn’t even really a short story. It was basically just an idea of a story written in narrative form.
A rich man had adopted an orphan from the street and was watching him play in the yard. There was something within the orphan that was pulling him back to the streets. It was as if the street had control over him.
That was the birth of this story. How do you break free from something that has control over your life? That idea is what inspired me. In fact, it still inspires me.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I have two books that I’m currently working on. One, called The Cry of Kilhaven, is finished, and I’ve put it aside before I go back and start editing it. It follows a young man who lives in an idyllic village in the middle of a post-apocalyptic world. He finds himself involved in a mystery that could shatter everything around him.
The other book is the 2nd novel in the Downer series. The working title is called Rise of the Branded (or Rise of the Downers). Not sure which one yet. What I can say about this book is that you see more of the world outside of Ungstah in which the Downers used to live. The characters and creatures that were referenced in the first play a bigger role in the plot.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was in my late teens I was in a band and I started to write songs and poetry. That’s it. But as I got older, that didn’t seem like enough. I felt like I wanted to write more, to say more. Occasionally, I would write a short story – mostly about how I wished life would turn out. Of course, I used a fictional character in fictional situations, but the motivation behind it was the same. I could write stories, meet characters, and create heroes. Then I took a screenwriting class in undergraduate school. I fell in love with creative writing. But my “professional” love for it didn’t start until I quit law school to attend an MFA program in Script & Screenwriting.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time. Most of my day is taken up with homeschooling my two oldest daughters. I also have a four-year old and a two-year old at home that I take care of. When I’m not doing that, I will spend time emailing and working on the marketing of my book or some other project I’m involved in. I usually have to carve out time at night if I am to write.
So, when my wife gets home from work, I will either go out to Starbucks or Panera to write. Sometimes I will just go down in the basement and work in the office, trying to ignore the sounds of four kids up above.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
To be truly honest, I don’t think I have one. In this regard, I’m really quite boring. I do, however, spend a lot of my time staring out a window or at the people around me. Usually, I’m trying to form the words or ideas that I want to say before I actually write them down. Then, while I’m writing, I really like to listen to evocative music like soundtrack music from Lord of the Rings or World War Z. And, I need to have some sort of hot drink (usually coffee) as well. That’s as “interesting” as I get.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a policeman. My first major in college was actually criminal justice. Eventually, that desire faded, and I ended up wanting to do something more creative. It just took me a while to figure that out.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I am currently working on writing my first stage musical. Not sure when I will finish it, but I have the first two songs and a portion of the script completed.