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Interview with Scott Frost (SF)

Interviewers: Simon Litten and Alan Robson (S/A)

Background: this interview was conducted while Scott Frost was on a promotional tour of Australia and New Zealand in conjunction with attending a crime writers’ convention in Australia.

S/A: Scott, thank you very much for this interview.

SF: My pleasure.

S/A: You started your writing career as a scriptwriter. What are your general experiences of scriptwriting?

SF: Scriptwriting is nasty and cutthroat, very competitive. Your work gets hacked about all the time. Working for a network is a hard place to do creatively what you want to do.

S/A: What is your science fiction scriptwriting resume?

SF: Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda: I did two scripts. In the second one the characters were caught in a place where they had to visit their past.

Twin Peaks: I did two scripts, which were shown as stories as heard by Scott Frost, and a book.

Babylon 5: I did one show. I met Joseph Straczynski; had a couple of meetings with him, handed him the script and that was that. Some people found him demanding, but I thought he was very nice, good to work with.

S/A: Are you tempted to go back to scriptwriting?

SF: No.

S/A: Why did you move into novel writing?

SF: To be completely in control of my writing. TV writing is a collaborative business, which can be a tiring process. You have the freedom to do what you want when writing books.

S/A: Do you have any desire to see your novels on the big/small screen?

SF: I have had some nibbles, and if the opportunity arose I would do it. Having worked in the industry I know not to wait by the phone.

S/A: Why detective fiction?

SF: There is a correlation between crime fiction and science fiction. Crime and science fiction writers can write about anything any theme, for example Star Trek does it in the way that it takes on any issue but does it at a distance, a remove.

The same thing happens with crime writing with the world seen through a detective’s eyes.

S/A: Any particular reason for writing in the crime genre?

SF: I love suspense, can write about anything; include any subtext, able to explore any theme.

S/A: Any plans to write science fiction?

SF: I don’t have any yet. I found the Martian Chronicles [by Ray Bradbury] to be a tremendous book. Never say never.

S/A: In your books you don’t describe Alex de Lillo –why is that?

SF: I leave it to the reader to describe her. The books are written in the first person; and you don’t describe yourself. This means the reader can create their own image of her.

S/A: How long will you continue with Alex?

SF: As long as there is an audience for her; hopefully, a long time.

For moving on I’ve got to see if there is another character who comes visiting. For me writing is a day at a time thing; I don’t plan too far ahead.

S/A: Why set the action in Los Angeles when you live in Montana?

SF: I have spent half my life in LA. I have a lot of stored memories of visions, sounds and smells – and for some I wish I didn’t remember them so vividly.

S/A: Do you plan to set anything in Montana?

SF: That’s a possibility as it’s an interesting place. But it’s not likely to be Alex.

S/A: What is your writing style? How do you plot your novels?

SF: I don’t plot them. I begin with an image, a sentence, a picture and go from there. The further I go the more I know. When I surprise myself I know I will do the same to the reader.

S/A: The books are structured to be very visual, why?

SF: Don’t know why – just the way I see the writing. Observation of things covers a lot. I started out as a photographer. I like creating images and found my writing moved in that direction. LA, with 9 million people, is a place that is rife with images.

I relate fiction writing to music: I hear the cadence of the sentence in my head while working. I have to hear the words in a way that matches what I am seeing.

S/A: My personal experience sometimes doesn’t match what the characters live through such as strapping of cracked ribs, but this may be due to different medical practices between the US and here. What are your thoughts on this?

SF: I want the book to be an intense experience. Sometimes that means never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Need to bear in mind that for the reader so long as the emotion rings true facts can sometimes be ignored. As far as I know cracked ribs aren’t strapped in the US either, but doing it can be seen as more authentic by the reader.

S/A: Please tell us about the latest book

SF: It was very political without being a polemic, which if you feel strongly about a subject is a dilemma that you have to face quite often when writing.

S/A: Do you get into trouble for being so political?

SF: The book wasn’t published in the United States. Publishers don’t want to stray in that direction because of the political content.

S/A: Is the book likely to be published in the US?

SF: Don’t know. Hope it will be.

S/A: Why were you published in the United Kingdom first?

SF: I was approached by a UK publisher. The US is a very tough market.

S/A: Why choose a female point of view?

SF: I like the way she sees the world, more complete, more complex. I learnt storytelling from my grandmother and mother (they held the family lore). Having those stories from that point of view did something for me.

Women are better listeners; that makes for a better detective.

My wife reads the first drafts. If the book is going well she shows it and vice versa.

S/A: Does your wife see the book as you’re working?

SF: She normally gets to see it after about the first third of the manuscript is written. If she says stop fooling yourself, then I know I’m doing okay.

S/A: How many countries are you visiting on this tour?

SF: Two: Australia and New Zealand. Have already been to Australia.

S/A: How much of you is in the books?

SF: I don’t think Alex would know what to do with a fly rod.

S/A: Scott thank you very much for your time, we hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in New Zealand.

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