Today I'm excited to introduce Scott R. Caseley and his debut novel "Isosceles," which is about a teen who discovers the death of his best friend for 13 years and must solve the mystery of what happened. Welcome, Scott!
When did you discover you had a “sense of fiction?”
In the third grade, we were given an assignment to write a short story and I wrote this detailed story of individuals five years older than my nine-year old self. The way they interacted, with each other as a group, or in some cases one-on-one. The way the story was set up, they had to be altogether at once, each having their own ‘role’ to play. Then, something happens to disrupt the order of things, and they split up into two groups of three. They found themselves on a quest to find each other again, and I ran the two stories parallel. I’m actually toying with revamping this story in a couple years, but the specific story details I remember from then are scant, so an overhaul will have to be done.
What was your favorite book as a child? As an adult? How did those influence you as a writer?
When I was in sixth grade, I wasn’t really the most popular kid in my school, I felt out of place to be honest. I spent much of my spare time writing short stories and playing outdoors with my neighborhood friends particularly a girl who was a tomboy. Then, we got assigned Katherine Paterson’s book, Bridge to Terabithia, and I felt strongly connected to it immediately. Most of all, I responded to the friendship between Jesse and Leslie and their imagination during playtime. When it came time to write book report for it, I ended up writing a sequel instead.
As an adult, I’d have to say the book that struck a chord with my writer side would have to be Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. Its philosophies and wisdom really pushed me with the writing of my novel. It helped me to harness my abilities, to clear my mind of distraction, and how to focus on telling my story. I told myself regardless of whether it got published or not, I felt like the writing of it was the excitement. That’s something key I learned from the book, the moment is what matters and the journeys are of the utmost importance, not the destination.
What inspired you to write this book?
When a large number of people I knew died in a relatively short period of time, I started to think about mortality and friendship. I started to ponder about what makes a true friend. If it is a true friend that passes, do you say they were your true friend because it’s someone that you trusted implicitly, or could it also be someone that you’ve faced hard times with, but stuck with you for the long haul? I also thought about how people are remembered after they pass. There seems to be this idealized or demonized notion of a person when they can no longer speak for themselves. That being said, death can also sometimes seems to offer a promise of absolution in one way or another. Further, I thought about how someone can seem totally familiar to us, like we understand their actions, how they think, but then when they die, we wonder if we ever knew them at all. So, these were some of the many things coming to mind as I started writing this. It’s evolved a lot through the many revisions it went through, but those are the core feelings about life and death, I wanted to address.
How would you describe your writing process? What must you always have while writing?
My mug of coffee, which my father affectionately dubbed a “fishbowl”, needs to have fat free cream and one Splenda in it. Then, I’m up and ready to go. Normally, when I’m starting a scene the first thing that comes to mind is the setting. Then, after I have a rough idea of where I want the action to take place, I start to think of the organic ways my characters can interact with their environment. Then, I think of where I want the scene to end, before I even know where it will begin. That way I can have a goal in sight, as a very goal-oriented person, this is of the utmost importance to me. After I have that, I start to think of the humor and/or conflict of the scene, and who is exactly needed to populate the scene and what do they need to carry them through it. Lastly, I think about how the scene will be lit, either by sunlight, moonlight, artificial light, etc. I think that last part comes from my background in movie making.
What has proven to be your most successful marketing tool?
While the novel is just a few weeks into release, it’s still premature to determine the “most successful marketing tool”. However I can cite what’s worked so far and what I speculate will help the novel’s lifespan. Guest blogging in a variety of fashions has brought some interest about the book. Also, I would have to say that Facebook has been a great asset. I created a page for my writing on New Year’s Day, and it’s already creeping up on the 300 mark. I’m also liking Twitter a lot, and getting the hang of that. On Saturday morning starting in the midnight hour, I was co-host for the acclaimed and popular radio program The Jordan Rich Show on WBZ radio in Boston, as part of his Book Club show, which he does traditionally twice a year, and this year he announced he will be doing three times. I don’t know what the long-term effect of doing that show will be, but there were quite a few listeners from all over the country calling in and who knows how many more just listening on their radio, phone, or over the internet. Finally, I’m looking forward to a book club/virtual tour, I’ll be doing organized through the folks at World of Ink Network in March and April.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
From my personal GPS as I call her, Marni McNiff, my editor, “That's the best feeling when you don't have to force it. It's really because of the story web you created. There is much to tell and your characters can tell you where to go!”
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
“That’s so cool, Trey,” I heard a soft voice like the melodious whisper of birdsong, my intuition revealing the identity before my eyes did. Madeline swayed from side to side, beaming with her pearly-whites.
Trey paid her no mind though, allowing himself to be distracted only by his overgrown dirty-blonde hair, which kept going in his face. Sometimes, he didn’t even push it away. His focus so intense, a few times, he almost knocked into other kids. He never apologized for it, nor did most get upset. They seemed to understand he was in a zone, one with his creation. He circled the perimeter to detect if it needed something. Whenever he snapped his fingers, he’d call out “cylinder,” “triangle,” or “rectangle.” Madeline would select it out of a decaying cardboard box, to present it to him like an obedient puppy bringing a tennis ball to its owner.
Mr. Carter, with Sheldon behind him, returned from their business in the hallway. They joined the rest of us, studying Trey’s handiwork. Before long, Mr. Carter became entranced, too. It felt frustrating. Being an only child, I was used to being the center of my parents’ universe. Here, someone else stole the attention so rightfully mine. Worst of all, watching Madeline fawn over him drove me crazy. His hair was messy, his shirt dirty, and he was just average. Why did he hold her interest? Shouldn’t she see me instead? Mom knitted me this nice sweater and combed my hair before I went to the bus stop. My head started pounding from over-thinking the situation when Madeline moved toward him, letting her pigtail accidentally brush against his head. He didn’t seem to notice, but I sure did. I needed to take action.
Creeping over to the box of blocks less than five feet from the audience, I reached in blindly selecting a triangle-shaped one with green crayon on the side facing up. With everyone so enamored by the courthouse, they didn’t even notice my hands trembling at my side with rage. Giving one last furtive glance to Trey, Madeline, Mr. Carter, and then ending on my classmates, I felt ready to execute the plan.
Many of the other kids started to pick up on my actions, giving me a brief moment of satisfaction. Their jaws dropped as they watched the projectile block following a jagged path through their makeshift circle. Of course, motor coordination issues since birth and anger clouded my vision. Translation: my aim was inaccurate.
The block went careening through the air, never even coming close to its intended target. Trey knew no fear, however. He must’ve sensed my imprecise aim the moment it left my unsteady hand. Without raising an eyebrow, let alone diverting his eyes from his structure, his arm swatted the wooden toy away like a fly. It changed course to come crashing down onto the bridge of my Madeline’s button nose. I’m not sure what started to pour first, the blood from her nostrils or the tears from her green eyes.
The bloodstained triangle ricocheted off her face to the courthouse, knocking it down like dominoes. At the same time, Madeline wailed in pain. Trey’s eyes cast down at his destroyed masterpiece, over to her, and finally to the crowd of spectators, with a cold, soulless expression. He breathed heavily out of his nose, needing to know who ruined his work. Sheldon, along with two other snitches, fingered me for the crime.
Where can readers find you and your book?
My email address is SRCaseley@gmail.com, and I’m also on Twitter @scottrcaseley. My pages are, https://www.facebook.com/ScottRCaseley, https://www.amazon.com/author/ScottRCaseley, and www.scottrcaseleyauthor.com.
Isosceles is available currently at:
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Kathy. You asked a lot of great questions, and I had a lot of fun with them.
What an interesting interview and a fantastic excerpt--wonderful writing! Thanks for being here today, Scott!