About Scott Lothian:
I am a clinical pharmacist and live in the Chicagoland area with my family. I have practiced for over 40 years concentrating in solid organ transplant, oncology and pain management, but for the past decade I have been on the clinical IT side of healthcare. I have two published novels to date: Perfect Posture and Deep Waters. I write character-centric stories incorporating history while using both to drive plot twists and turns. The reader will always find characters who they will love to love or love to hate as well as a mix of levity and interesting history as the book spins to its exciting conclusion.
What inspires you to write?
My second novel is Deep Waters, which was published on August 2nd—the 76th anniversary of the heroic rescue of the surviving crew members of the USS Indianapolis. This is a story of a man’s life—from farm town quarterback to a crew member of the Indianapolis and on—and how he deals with a life not totally under his control. Deep Waters is very much a historical slice-of-life mystery—a combination of historical fiction with a good karma versus evil karma storyline that threads throughout and leads to the mystery-thriller possibly “atomic” ending.
I was inspired to write this book by the story of the Indianapolis, amazed that this heroic story went mostly untold for decades. I thought about a “what if” scenario: what would the life of one of these men be like having survived this terrible tragedy and what if there was more to the story.
I pictured the life of a man who went through the tragedy of the sinking of the Indianapolis—four days in the water attacked by sharks and worn down by hunger, thirst and the elements. What was his life like? What if his life was filled with tragedy, hardship and disappointment? How would he handle these setbacks and how would it shape him as a man? What if there were evolving good and evil strands twisting around his life story that he had no control over, but could prove to be his ultimate undoing? I then built people around him to support his life paths and decisions.
In Deep Waters, you get to know Jack (or Butch), a high school sophomore who is the varsity football quarterback and dating the head cheerleader, Candy. Life is good if he can avoid pissing off his father or getting beat up by his older brother. Then something happens that changes his life and he is forced to make his first big decision. I am very much a writer who holds to the contract of promise resolution, so any of Jack’s life decisions that may be second-guessed by the reader could have a different reality in the end.
The book takes place from 1945 through 2007 for reasons the reader will understand as they follow the story. The prologue starts in 2007 with the torture of a shipmate and friend of Jack’s, Chester, in an effort to find the rumored second atomic bomb on the Indianapolis and ends as two Knights Templar ships sail in opposite directions in the early morning hours of October 13, 1307. These two threads are the karma stories that unknowingly are twisting around Jack’s odyssey and come together to create the possibly atomic ending.
For my first book, Perfect Posture, I set out to write a murder mystery that was not Pulp Fiction or an extreme techno-thriller that showed only one speed and read like a superconductor manual. Instead, I wanted a classic evenly paced story somewhere in between. I wanted the reader to feel as if they were getting to know the characters, to care for them or to hate them as their actions might dictate. I aimed to create a palpable good versus evil tension in the reader much like that effected by Erik Larson’s classic Devil in the White City. I wanted to show a less sterile, technical or hectic side of a police investigation—a M*A*S*H-like attitude that is more true-to-life for people under constant stress than many realize. I believe the review below would inspire any author to keep writing.
“Suspenseful book with great twists!! – Excellent read — and this is the author’s first book! Great fiction with Chicago area references — perfect for Baby Boomer generation. If I had the time, I never would have put it down — I love mysteries, and this one was well written with much character development. Looking forward to the author’s second book!” 5-stars (AH)
What authors do you read when you aren’t writing?
My favorite author is Ken Follett and he did influence my second book, Deep Waters, which is in many ways a hybrid novel with a historical fiction odyssey-like life arc with a mystery-thriller ending. My first novel, Perfect Posture, aims to create a palpable good versus evil tension in the reader much like that effected by Erik Larson’s classic Devil in the White City and was also influenced by Stephen King.
Tell us about your writing process.
Like most authors, I research prior to starting a book, but I only plan out the major arc points—start, stops and finish—not the entire script. I feel writing is like planning a vacation, you can plan the destinations and the stops, but you never know whom you will meet along the way, so I let the story flow from me to the page, much like I am "reading" it, and lead me to research those new experiences. If I need to get over a hump, I leave it and let my mind (OCD-ish) work its magic to get the story over and on to the next chapter (this can happen in the shower, while watching TV and, unfortunately, even while in a meeting). I do use a journal to write down ideas as they pop up, but each chapter is sometimes spread across multiple pages, so go through each page and cross out what I have written, leaving no good idea behind.
Also, I like to have fun with the names I use in my writing and you will find this true throughout this book. The Gardener, Marino Danielson, is named after my favorite quarterback (Dan Marino – sorry Peyton and Drew, but you are tied for #2). Chester “Gerbil” Best is named after a fraternity brother’s nickname (Gerbil) and my oldest son’s hamster (Chester). And there are many other names where the reader might catch some hidden meaning. Most every name in the book has a story, though it certainly may not be the same as the character experiences in the book.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
You have to listen to your characters. If you have done a good job creating them—actually giving them life—they should have a unique outlook all their own and do not need you speaking for them or stepping on their toes. The plot cannot dictate the character—the character must dictate the plot or they are not making decisions for themselves or being true to themselves.
What advice would you give other writers?
Follow your heart. Start with a story you would like to read and go from there. Enjoy the journey and be willing to take unexpected turns—if you are surprised, then so will your readers. Well-honed characters will do the work for you if you let them.
The best writing advice I have ever received was from a Dan Brown Master Class—always resolve main storyline issues as if you had a contract with your reader.
Some aspects of the story are meant to mislead, but you cannot have a reader saying, “But what about the bloody wrench?” at the end of your book.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Since my first novel, Perfect Posture, was a 200,000-word debut, I had no choice but to self-publish through Amazon since no one—agent or publisher—would take a risk on a new author with a book that long. I decided not to trim it down to fit their definition of what the ideal novel should be since the "fat" to be trimmed was character development which in this novel was of prime importance.
I also self-published Deep Waters because I wanted to publish it on the date of the USS Indianapolis rescue. I plan on looking for a publisher for Deep Water and eventually for my next book, Daddy’s Girl, but have no issues publishing through Amazon if needed.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Self-publishing is great, but Indie artists are at the whim of bloggers and reviewers. Unless you can find a niche or get lucky with a review, you are basically on your own. Spending money on promotion sites is not always a win for authors. I respect those who write for life—I write as a hobby and for enjoyment, so I try not to get too tied up in the whole game. I know my readers have enjoyed my books and try to ignore those that blame the pants when they don’t fit—though I have been lucky with this thus far.
What genres do you write?: Detective, Murder Mystery, Psychological-Thriller, Mystery-Thriller, Historical Fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.