As I may have mentioned one or two (dozen) times on Twitter recently, I really enjoyed Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer. He was kind enough to take time out to speak to me about writing it.
1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Everyone! Seriously, I want to write stories that involve teens, but which people of all ages find engaging.
2. If you’d been in the same situation as the kids in Night of the Purple Moon when you were a youngster, how would you have coped? Did you have any useful talents that could have helped?
As a boy I liked to fish and I had a garden. I think I would have gravitated to the food gathering team. I would have canned vegetables for the long winter. My carpentry skills are suspect, so I’d hope someone else could build a smokehouse for the fish. I also really like picking berries. Castine Island has lots of wild blackberries and blueberries growing in the woods and by the sides of the road. They are high in Vitamin C.
Sounds like you'd have been more use than me! My carpentry skills are just as suspect as yours, but my fishing skills are even worse.
3. What YA books have inspired your writing?
All Jules Verne, a lot of Roald Dahl, William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, and short stories by Jack London. Specifically for NOPM: Homecoming by Cynthia Voight and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Their characters faced incredible challenges and embarked on epic journeys. As I was thinking about what would eventually become Night of the Purple Moon, I wanted to try to make the challenges and stakes even greater.
4. What advice would you give to authors just starting out?
Write, write, write! If someone has the passion and the perseverance, they will find their own path.
5. What made you decide to self-publish your novel?
An agent submitted various versions of the book to six NY publishers and all passed. During this time an online writing friend was talking about ePublishing. The verdict on self-publishing? It’s still early, but there is one incredible thing about it: the immediacy of connecting with readers. Look, here I am, a few weeks after going live on Amazon!
I feel very honoured to have been granted an interview so quickly. (I'm still stunned so many publishers passed on it, anyway!)
6. If you were hosting a literary dinner party, which six authors or characters would you invite?
J.K. Rowling, hoping she’d leave behind a few story ideas on a napkin (serviette?). To liven up the gathering, three of the Beats: Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsburg. Jane Austen, because I need an infusion of culture. I would have endless questions for Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John—one of the New Testament writers. Finally, it’s a bad idea to get nothing but a bunch of writers together. The most important guest would be ‘the anonymous editor’, who will keep everything on track.
7. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, is there a soundtrack to Night of the Purple
No music. Ideally, I work in a cone of silence. My cone, though, is repeatedly shattered--50 or 60 times a day--by our two dogs barking at every squirrel, UPS driver, dog walker, jogger, leaves rustling in a gentle breeze…
8. What's your favourite thing about writing? Is there anything you'd rather not do at all?
Favourites (In no particular order)
1) Those fleeting moments when writing is effortless.
2) Hearing that someone laughed out loud over something I wrote
3) Hearing that someone cried. A 12-year old beta reader of NOPM said she cried “two pounds of tears”
1) Computer crashes when you don’t have backup
2) Those frequent times when writing feels like climbing Mt. Everest barefoot
I can sympathise with your 12-year old reader, having been close to tears myself a couple of times! And I can definitely agree with you there are times that writing makes Everest look like a cakewalk.
9. If you could ask any other author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?
“Aristotle, how was it that you invented a three-act plot structure that every writer since you has copied?”
10. What's next for Scott Cramer?
There’s a mystery three-quarters finished, and I want to revisit and rewrite my first attempt at a YA novel about surfing, Pressure Drop. (Note from Jim: Scott also told me about another project, but you don't want to read the details until you've read Night of the Purple Moon, trust me!
Great - looking forward to those! Best of luck for the future, Scott.