Scott Jenkins began his writing career in the games industry, creating ‘worlds’ for popular games like Dungeons & Dragons, BattleTech, and DC Heroes Roleplaying game. During his time in Hollywood he worked as a computer animator and wrote technical books and screenplays.
Fascinated with creating illusions, the progression into the world of magic was a natural step. He learned the art of ‘close-up magic,’ and his skills earned him a magician membership at the world famous Magic Castle, Hollywood’s premier magic venue.
Inspired by the true life story of John Mulholland, one of the greatest magicians of his time, who was hired by the CIA to teach their agents slight-of-hand and misdirection for covert ops during the Cold War, Scott began to research the era and spy tactics.
From there, the story of the Smoke & Dagger series was born. The first book, Bullet Catch, is a high-stakes thriller based in Berlin. The next book in the series, Mismade Madam will be out in 2014.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve been a reader since I was three and a writer since I was eight. Since then I’ve always been a storyteller in one form or another, including over ten years as an animator.
Storytelling itself is my inspiration, as story is the basic human experience — the stories we tell ourselves to get through the day; the stories we make up about others so that we can categorize and be comfortable with them; or the stories we hear that connect us with others.
Stories connect us with our origins and make us comfortable with where we wind up. Story is everything.
And I gotta get these stories outta my head somehow! That’s why I write. 🙂
Tell us about your writing process.
I was going to say that first I choose an idea, but it’s more like an idea chooses me. Something comes to me that doesn’t just beg to be told, it gets aggressive about it.
I spend some time — a lot of time really — figuring out why this story appeals to me, and how it can be told. Then I break it down into not quite an outline, but a list of what happens and what happens next.
Then I start writing, pouring it all out into a first draft that makes sense to no one but me. Unfortunately.
Then the work of rewriting happens, taking that big lump of clay and turning it into something that someone would want to look at.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I get down to the rewrite, the characters are more fully formed in my head, and I find myself fighting them to go from point A to point B. I always lose. That’s where I always get stuck — trying to force things instead of letting it happen.
Eventually I get over myself and start writing. I create situations for my characters in a particular location and let them loose. They do what they need to do, I wrap up the chapter, figure out where they need to be in the next one and continue.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write. Write until it’s a habit, and you can’t not do it — like brushing your teeth before bedtime.
Get over the hump where you’re not forcing it, and it just happens. You’ll find yourself having fun.
Also read. See what other authors are doing — good authors whose work you respect — and study their work. What keeps you turning pages? Why do you care about the characters? Then see how you can adapt what you’ve learned to your own work.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’m a self-publisher. I decided to do that because I knew I could give the marketing of the book the care it needed. Nobody knows who the hell I am, so I’d have to really push to get the book out. A publisher only has so much time to do that before they have to work on the next book.
Also, the money was an issue. Getting paid 70% for a book vs. 8% (or less) is a consideration if I actually want to make a living doing this. There are a lot of advantages to going with a publisher, but not at this stage of my career.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
eBooks are the future of publishing, but physical books are not going to go away. I still buy big pretty art books, but after moving a few times and lugging 3500 books with me, I’ve grown to appreciate my Kindle.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Thriller, Mystery, Action and Adventure
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print