A Day in the Life Presents Science Fiction Author, Scott Coon

Terrie Leigh Relf: What types – and forms – of writing do you do? 

Scott Coon: I write science fiction almost exclusively. Lost Helix is my first novel, but I have had several short stories published. Links to them are on my website.

Terrie: What is your area(s) of subject matter expertise? How did you discover this niche? What intrigues you about it?

Scott: My work is often influenced by my career as a computer programmer and also by my six years as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army. Both played a role in writing Lost Helix.

Terrie: How do you balance your creative and work time?

Scott: I am lucky to work from home as a programmer. The hours I get back from not commuting provides a lot of writing time. When I had an office job, I would hide from my coworkers during lunch and find a place to write. On weekends, I’d spend hours writing before having to do anything. I would also work in waiting rooms and airports. Writing is something you can take with you and do on the side. You can train your brain to work when the opportunity affords itself.

Terrie: What tips do you have for other writers?

Scott: It’s important to learn both the creative side and the business side. Everyone in this industry needs knowledge of both. Learn the rules for your genre and work within them. This means word count, point-of-view, tense, and other things. This might feel restrictive, but there is an infinite number of possibilities within those rules. If you want to be a rule breaker, you must earn this by succeeding within the rules.

Terrie: What are your thoughts on the creative process in general and your creative process in particular?

Scott: Writing a novel is like running a marathon with your brain. It’s something you train to do, and you train to do it by doing it. Piers Anthony said you had to throw away three novels before you write a good one. Be prepared to do that.

Terrie: Where do your ideas come from?

Scott: My ideas often come from asking the question, “Yeah, but what next?” Terraforming is a recurring concept in science fiction, like in James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes, but what happens when the planet is done? How does humanity go about populating it? The world of Lost Helix is my answer to that question. Another source of inspiration was the video game Sid Meier’s Civilization. Every time I built the domed spaceship bound for Alpha Centauri, I wondered what would become of it after the colonists stripped it for parts and left its remains in orbit. In Lost Helix, I give my science victory colony ships a second life as a farm, feeding the miners of Stone River.

Terrie: Where have you been published? Upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?

Scott: My first published story, “Firewall,” appeared in Nth Degree Magazine in 2006. Later, my stories “Morbid Silence” and “Happy Pills and Candy Bars” were published by Hungur Magazine. Recently, “Enduring Winter” was a finalist in the Writers of the Future Awards and won Second Place in the New England SciFi Writers Association Contest. It was published in the March 30, 2020 issue of Bewildering Stories Online Magazine.

Terrie: What are you working on now?

Scott: I keep myself quite busy. I am currently editing multiple novels including my afterlife LGBT sci-fi novel, Atheist Regiment, my sci-fi noir mystery, a Balance of Crimson, and a fantasy-steampunk comedy, The Wizard, the Pirate, and the Steampunk Librarian. I also have a list of short stories submitted to contests and magazines.

Terrie: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges and how did they make you a better writer and/or editor?

Scott: I had a big challenge right before this novel was accepted by Dancing Lemur. Lost Helix had too many point-of-view characters. It bogged down the story telling and diminished the characters that needed the focus. Thanks to my years of practice and training, I was able to make the changes quickly. After they accepted it, I still had more work to do. I learned through this editing process, and now my novels-in-progress are benefitting from it.

Terrie: Are you plotter and planner or a discovery writer?

Scott: I am a plotter. In my opinion, you need a plot so you can work out large issues in advance instead of doing major rewrites. Others work differently. My challenge has been writing enough of an outline to define the plot while still being vague enough on details, so the story and characters have room to grow as I write.

Terrie: Are you currently a writing mentor? If so, what are your thoughts on mentoring?

Scott: I am not, but I try to help my fellow writers in my writing group, Writers of Sherman Oaks. We have a formal critique session on Thursdays with a less formal discussion at a bar afterwards. We also get together to write on Saturdays. It is necessary to have beta readers who give useful feedback. It’s better when those readers are fellow writers. And having other writers to share ideas with enhances your writing in ways you would not expect.

Terrie: Since you’re a fiction writer, who are your favorite characters? How did they come into being, and what do you love – or loathe – about them?

Scott: I love my main heroes, DJ and Paul, but I also love my side character little Katie. She’s a little girl who pops in-and-out of the later part of the story. She appears shy at first, but as she opens up, she becomes a delightful character with some wonderful lines. Characters sometimes surprise the people who are writing them, doing things in the moment that hadn’t been planned. In Lost Helix, Katie surprised me a couple of times. I think she’ll surprise the readers as well.

Terrie: You mentioned that you host a writing group. It would be great to hear more about this. 

Scott: I host The Writers of Sherman Oaks Critique Group and also write-in events during National Novel Writing Month. I have had good and bad experiences with writing groups. My first attempt at a writing group became a future teachers meeting, plus one guy trying to have a writing group. I’ve had bad writers who didn’t take advice, gave bad advice, and drove good writers away with their attitude. It can take effort to find or build a good writing group. Then it takes effort to maintain it. But it’s all worth it because you need first readers and you need other writers in your life to make your own writing better.

Terrie: I know our readers would love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips.

Scott: Build an author platform now. Write about writing and put it on your site. Find a service and start a mailing list; most mailing list services are free until you build them up. Write short stories to build a following. Pick at least two social media platforms and be active on them. Find one or two writing or genre conventions you like and go every year. Make friends there and talk to panelists. This will all help you the day you publish your first book.

Terrie: Your thoughts on having an agent?

Scott: An agent is optional in today’s market. It depends on what your goals are and who your audience is. I see having an agent as the next step in my career, but even if I never find one, I feel like I have accomplished my goal.

Terrie: Your thoughts on self-publishing?

Scott: Like with agents, it depends on what your goals are and who your audience is. My friend and fellow author, Janet Ambrosi Wertman, has had great success with her novels, Jane the Queen and The Path to Somerset. Both were self-published historical fiction. She had the right goals and audience for self-publishing. I might, too, with some future project. But right now, I am delighted that Dancing Lemur Press is investing in my work by publishing Lost Helix.

Terrie: Where do you see yourself in the next year? Next five years? 

Scott: I hope to have a few more novels published by then, with a back catalogue and a fan base. Maybe I will get to stop writing code and just write science fiction all the time. Wish me luck.

Terrie: Thank you for creating the time for this interview, Scott! Readers, please check out his bio and new novel below.

Scott Coon has been published over a dozen times in various magazines and has won accolades for his short stories. He served for six years in the U.S. Army as an Intelligence Analyst, including a tour in Kuwait, where he received the Joint Service Achievement Award. Now a software developer for a major bank, Scott brings his computer and military experience into his work, along with a sense of spectacle.

Scott’s first published story, “Firewall,” appeared in Nth Degree Magazine in 2006. His short story, “Enduring Winter,” was a finalist in the Writers of the Future Awards and won Second Place in the New England SciFi Writers Association Contest 2016. Scott hosts The Writers of Sherman Oak Critique Group and write-in events during National Novel Writing Month. See his website for links to his published shorts and his papers on the art and business of writing.

LOST HELIX

Lost Helix by Scott Coon, a sci-fi adventure/mystery. Available for Pre-Order Now! When his dad goes missing, DJ finds a file containing evidence of a secret war of industrial sabotage, a file encrypted by his dad using DJ’s song, “Lost Helix.” Caught in a crossfire of lies, DJ must find his father and the mother he never knew.

Where to purchase his book:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo 

iTunes

 

 

%d bloggers like this: