Here’s a short interview conducted with Scott Hale, author of “The Bones of the Earth.” We hope you enjoy it, and check back soon for a more in-depth video with the author regarding the series.
Do you recall how your interest in writing started?
As far as I can tell, my interest in writing began at a very young age. I believe it started in kindergarten. I was at my aunt’s house after they had bought a computer and I’d discovered the word processor.
(Side note: This is the aunt who let me watch Night of the Living Dead and Near Dark almost every time I was there. It took years for me to finally see how they ended, because I always fell asleep watching them. See parents, Horror is even good for nap time!)
For some reason or another—maybe it had been my aunt’s suggestion—I wrote a story about a witch. Of course she was evil, and of course she killed people. And of course this totally bothered my mom. I had also, I think, used the word “damn” or “bitch” in the story. How I dodged the school psychologist all those years …
After that, I wrote sporadically, usually in rebellion toward my mom when she would forbid me from watching or playing something most normal kids wouldn’t watch or play at my age. She wouldn’t let me watch Starship Troopers, so I wrote a comic. She wouldn’t let me watch Event Horizon (after I’d watched it several times behind her back), so I wrote a sequel to it. I even wrote a sequel to the video game Silent Hill; I still have it somewhere. It’s in a red folder which I drew on for its cover, and inside there’ a stack of notebook paper covered in really crappy handwriting. It’s pretty awesome.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t?
I would love to visit Alaska. I don’t know a whole lot about the place other than it looks amazing and it has almost everything I could ever want. I think I would be flooded with inspiration visiting or living there. In regards to “The Bones of the Earth,” I’m not sure I would want to live anywhere in that universe. Perhaps somewhere in the Frozen North, or if I’m lucky, one of the less chaos-wracked places of the Nameless Forest.
What authors have inspired you to write and why?
As I’ve been saying for who knows how long now, I don’t read as much as I’d like to, so I feel kind of ignorant sometimes when it comes to talking about novels. However, if I had to say which authors influenced me the most, I’d go with Vladimir Nabokov, Clive Barker, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and perhaps Alan Moore. I love Nabokov’s style, his command of the language and his playfulness with words. Clive Barker is fantastic at building grotesque scenes and worlds inhabited by people you really care about. Lovecraft and Poe brought a sophistication to horror and helped lay the groundwork for the stories to come. And Alan Moore, with his contributions to comics, graphic novels, what have you, mixed incredible prose and vivid imagery in such a way that really stuck out to me (I love Swamp Thing).
Honestly, I’m more of a movie guy myself. Top five Horror films? In no order:
2. The Thing
4. Videodrome/The Fly
(very special mention: Sleepaway Camp. It never gets old.)
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on Book Two in the “The Bones of the Earth” series. I am about forty percent done with it. I am also working on an anthology of horror stories, which is nearly finished, but will be released later.
Are your books connected in any way?
Before “Bones” and most of my short stories, I was writing screenplays. Around that time, I had the idea of connecting everything I wrote by having it take place in the same universe, and I’ve been doing that since. “Bones” takes place after an event called the Trauma. Before “Bones” and the Trauma are my short stories and screenplays, some of which will be in the forthcoming anthology.
Some book series have these great and expansive worlds, but often times the worlds feel sterile or too large to really appreciate. By using short stories to inform the past, present, and future of “Bones,” I aim to create a much more personal, much more engaging world that is constantly developing for the reader. I think that people, especially now, really enjoy connecting the dots; that is, identifying places, people, events and the relationships between all of them. However, I know some people can feel overwhelmed; they feel they’ve missed too much backstory, so when I write, I do so in a way that most everything can be read as a standalone story. All the little details and connections are there if you want them, and if you don’t, no big deal.
In your most recent book, “The Bones of the Earth,” the main character, Vrana, wears a raven mask throughout the story. What mask would you wear if you were part of the novel and why?
I suppose I’d either wear a mask fashioned from an octopus, or perhaps I would wear an alligator’s head. I’m not sure why. Whatever I would wear, it would probably be from some sneaky or weird looking creature. I find I gravitate more toward the weird things of the world. I think they have more character.
Is there a message in “Bones” that you readers can take away?
There are messages in my novel, but I don’t really care if people catch them. I’m not the kind of person that likes to preach. I don’t pretend to know how the world works, and I don’t think my opinions are so damn awesome I have to share them every chance I get with the world. My goal with my writing is to entertain. They’re not empty works devoid of subtext—I’ve certainly things to say—but that’s not the main selling point. Perhaps my message does have a novel, and it is this: Think for yourself, ask questions, but please, don’t be a selfish dickhead about it.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring authors?
Be honest with yourself. When you write, just as when you interact with others and conduct business, you have to be genuine, true to your nature. Don’t try to mimic some other writer out there. We already have that writer’s voice. But we don’t have yours. Understand why you’re writing what you’re writing. Don’t focus on making everyone happy, because you won’t, you can’t. It’s impossible and that’s okay. But again, be honest with yourself. Talk to yourself. Engage in self-reflection. Writing is a very personal thing, and you’ll be putting a lot of yourself out there. It may be disguised by characters and setting, but it’s still there. The better you understand yourself, the better your writing will be, as you’ll have a better understanding of your intentions. And once you’ve got a good hold on that, then you can move onto worrying about what other people want, and how far you’re willing to go to please them while remaining true to your vision.
Also, if you’re serious about getting published, don’t be like me and wait to get your name out there. Start soon. Engage in groups. Use social media. Be a beta reader. Get your name out there. Establish an audience, a presence, so when you ready to publish something, you’ve got a huge group of people already there to support you.