Saturday, April 19, 2014

Author Interview: Scott Frey

Scott Frey is the author of The Founder's Find, the first book in a new YA "philosophical fantasy" series called Watchers of Worlds.  Scott recently took time from his writing of the second book in the series to answer questions for Rose City Reader readers.  (And please watch the trailer, below -- it is great!)

How did you come to write The Founder’s Find?

In college I studied philosophy. As I did, I realized two things: 1) some of the most epic and fantastic ideas live in the philosophical canon, and 2) philosophy is dense, challenging reading. I saw a treasure trove of great ideas unintentionally locked away in the jargon of philosophers. I believe these are ideas that should be made accessible to larger audiences (especially young people), and what better way to explore big questions than with a great adventure series?

Can you recommend any other books about philosophy for younger readers or those unfamiliar with the philosophic ideas you explore in your novel?

When you first start reading philosophy it’s a bit like being added to a really long e-mail chain. Jumping in midstream is confusing and potentially incoherent. So, it’s important to read philosophers with the question, “To whom or what is this author responding?” Reading anything in isolation is a recipe for misunderstanding.

With that in mind, I would either start in the beginning with Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates (Anaximander if you’re feeling wild), read something like The Oxford Companion to Philosophy as a survey of everything or just find something you’re especially interested in on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and then go from there. As much as I love Wikipedia when researching other topics, I don’t recommend it for a new philosopher. For your quick queries/questions go to the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy instead.

As an aside, I recommend people avoid "intro to philosophy" books. The over simplification can be confusing and lead you astray.

What did you learn from writing your book – either about the subject of the book or the writing process – that most surprised you?

I guess I was most shocked by how much I enjoyed the story making process. When I first picked up a pen, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “this is going to be laborious, tedious etc.” I was planning on gutting my way through the first book. It was only a distant hope that I would keep going. But, a few chapters in, I realized how much fun I was having, how free I felt. Pretty soon the question shifted from, “How do I keep going?” to “How do I stop?”

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors? Is your own writing influenced by who you read?

Immanuel Kant, Martin Heidegger and George Berkeley. Stylistically they are of no real use to my work, but many of their ideas are fundamental to Watchers of Worlds (especially Berkeley).

What are you reading now?

The Future of the Mind by Michio Kaku and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

You have a terrific website and trailer for The Founder’s Find. From an author's perspective, how important are social networking sites and other internet resources to promote your book?

It’s hard to answer this question in any sort of quantitative way. I will say, as a young author, I know my name alone doesn’t widen the eyes of potential readers, which is why I spent extra time on cover design, the website and the video. Well-crafted collateral can certainly build credibility. At a time when people google everything and with all of the great tools for building sites, I feel as though I am doing the bare minimum. That said, the site alone doesn’t drive book sales. Talking to book clubs, book blogs (like Rose City Reader) and doing readings seem to create the largest spikes in actual sales.

What have you learned from self-publishing that you think is the most valuable lesson?

Professional editors are worth what you pay them. Most authors need somebody who is removed from them to objectively evaluate your work and provide criticism. Your friends and family will always be in a somewhat compromised situation when they read your work.

Any tips or hints for authors considering bringing out their own self-published books?

Learn to love criticism. I’ve learned compliments are rarely as helpful as criticism. I always want people to be as blunt with me about my work as they possibly can.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

There is little in life as limitless as a blank page. Each is an opportunity, a dare to make something nobody has seen before. Writers are just explorers with pens.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

Yes, The Founder’s Find is the beginning of a series of eight books. I've completed rough drafts for two other books in  the Watchers of Worlds series.

I’ve just begun the editing process for the second, yet-to-be-titled, book in the series. Kade (the protagonist) will be exploring some really beautiful new places and the intensity of his story gets turned up quite a bit. There’s a lot of adventure, danger and self-discovery, as well as Kade’s first romance. The Founder’s Find built Kade’s world and this second book is my first chance to truly play in it.

There isn’t anything set in stone for the release of the second book, but I am hoping it goes to press this autumn.


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