When I came up with the idea of starting a blog that spotlights authors, the first person I thought to do an interview was Scott Caseley. Several years ago, Scott’s book Isosceles was the first novel I ever edited. I came from a world of nonfiction books that were marketed toward writers, so this was a new adventure for me, and I’m so happy that I was able to help Scott on his journey to publication.
I had the chance to chat with Scott about Isosceles, which is a story about friendship being tested to its limits, and how far we will go to protect those we love especially after tragedy. It begins with the death of Trey Goodsby and explores through a thirteen-year period of episodic moments, his best friendships with Sean McIntyre and a woman named Madeline Edwards who was always a solid force to both of them. It also details what led to Trey’s passing, and how it affected Sean and Madeline.
AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Scott Caseley: I wanted to reach high school kids, from freshman year and on up. The story deals with a lot of themes I know I went through when I was that age; isolation, broken heart, misplaced trust, etc. But, it also has a lot of the moments that I remember fondly that I feel would be relatable to that age group; that moment when someone just gets you right away, when you succeed at something for the first time in front of a person you look up to, when you have just quiet understanding with someone you care about, etc. I just want the reader going into this to feel like they can identify with the good and bad and realize how it affects them isn’t as isolating as they might be afraid it is.
AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?
Scott Caseley: It was very early on, I was writing the chapter where Sean and Trey first beat… I mean meet each other in the classroom. Trey is building a structure with blocks and when they were fighting, I knew Madeline would have to be introduced in this moment too, and I saw the fight going on in my mind out of focus, and lying on the ground was an abandoned isosceles wooden block. I thought that it could be great symbolism if done right. Then, it occurred to me that had to be the title.
AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?
Scott Caseley: One of the great benefits of signing on with a wonderful company like MuseItUp is that the authors get assigned a cover designer to work with them on the look of the book. CK Volnek, this incredible artist was the talent that was brought in to work with me. We had a few email exchanges in which we discussed what I was hoping to achieve to say visually to tell my story. Right away, she knew exactly what I meant and sent me pictures of models she thought would best represent the three principal characters. After that, I had to do a style sheet, and she drafted a cover that was almost exactly what I wanted. Then, I gave her my suggestions to improve upon it, and she nailed it. She is one of the most gifted artists I have ever worked with.
AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?
Scott Caseley: It started out as stream of consciousness writing, and from that it became a screenplay, all in 2009. Once I met my editor, she gave me notes on a few drafts of the script, but then urged me to turn it into a novel in the summer of 2010. Together with her, she shepherded the process through several subsequent drafts. In December of 2010, we determined it was ready to try to get it published. In 2011, I started submitting it everywhere. In the midst of the sea of rejections, I met a publishing consultant, who gave me a few bits of advice for improvement. Then, in 2012, I submitted the novel to MuseItUp and it was accepted in March of that year. Through the end of the year, with the help of my Content Editor, and a Line Editor, we got it into the shape it is now. Finally, it was released in January 2013 as an eBook. So, from start to finish it took approximately three and a half years.
AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?
Scott Caseley: When I would experience writer’s block, I started to think up different scenarios for the characters that didn’t always end up in the book itself. It was just a way to think outside the box. I wanted to see them as close to actual people as I realistically could. I thought of how they would handle themselves in a variety of different scenarios, and that helped me to see how what their actions and speech would be like in the ones that were giving me the most trouble.
Also, I did other things to get my mind off the story for a bit. I like to cook, so I started to look up different recipes to keep my mind active, creative, and focused. I’d also walk on my treadmill or go swimming at my gym. I found that combination of both of these, actively getting into their heads, and also letting them leave mine helped to find the most concrete ways to help the story continue.
AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published? About how long did it take?
Scott Caseley: Getting used to the words ‘not interested’, ‘not for our brand’, and just keeping the momentum to feel that somewhere, some way, the book will get published, was difficult at times. It can be very deflating and crushing to get rejection letters over and over again. But, I’m glad that I stuck it out and was signed by MuseItUp, just over a year after I finished writing all those drafts with my editor.
AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Scott Caseley: My favorite character when I was writing it was definitely Trey Goodsby, because he could meet different people depending on ‘which Trey’ he felt like being with them. He had this complexity about him, and it gave me a lot of different ideas and places to take the character. Now, rereading the story, I really like Bill Edwards, Madeline’s father. I feel that he has the most hidden depth to him. When first meeting him, he can be perceived in one light, but then the end stripped all that you saw from him in the beginning, and he became something much more.
AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?
Scott Caseley: The bully characters, I thought that they could have had more to do in the book, and in fact, I toyed with having them show up numerous times, but in the end, it just seemed necessary to have them be one-note villains.
AW: If you could change only one thing about your novel, what would it be?
Scott Caseley: I would have developed the character of Mrs. Goodsby more. I felt that she really got shortchanged in the story and there was so much that she could have said and done especially in the earlier chapters.
AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.
Scott Caseley: The sledding scene was inspired by and written during an actual snowstorm. It was one of those days where the snow came out of nowhere, and I couldn’t go to the gym. My other great passion is exercise so I felt trapped and frustrated by the weather. So, I decided to write Sean as really elated about having a snow day, and the freedom of sledding to be a sharp contrast to my own emotions. After I wrote the first go at it, it made my day feel much more enjoyable.
AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?
Scott Caseley: I’d like to think it has elements similar to The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, showing the different social classes in society, “The Body”, the novella by Stephen King about the tests and trueness of friendship, and last but certainly not least Bridge to Terabithia by Katharine Paterson showing the platonic bond between a young boy and girl in small town America. I revisited all three of these stories before putting pen to paper so to speak. I would say that they did inspire me, because I do see parallels to the characters of each in my protagonists and antagonists. However, the films of John Hughes and Cameron Crowe also inspired me.
AW: What made you decide to become an author?
Scott Caseley: I have always enjoyed the art of storytelling, since about the age of four when I used to use a tape recorder to craft tales of my imaginary friends. From there, in second grade our class was assigned creative writing as a part of the curriculum. I got to write short stories then, and loved the process. Later, I wrote and co-wrote screenplays that would become feature films and a documentary short. I’ve always just loved the process of authoring a story, be it for the ears, the eyes, but especially the emotions of an audience.
AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?
Scott Caseley: I was told that as a man I should never think I can write compelling or realistic female characters. It has always stuck with me.
AW: What is the best compliment?
Scott Caseley: When a reader tells me that they identified with a particular moment in a character’s journey and that after seeing it in my novel through different eyes, it helped them to heal.
AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?
Scott Caseley: Currently, I am enrolled in a professional certificate program in copyediting. When completed, using these skills, I’d like to work for a publishing company or freelance to help many different industries put out the best possible written material they can to help them reach their goals. At the same time, I have a number of personal writing goals that I’d like to see through, and possibly go back to school for my Master’s in either Creative Writing or Writing/Publishing.
AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?
Scott Caseley: There is a second novel in the works, a departure from Isosceles, in that it isn’t a Young Adult novel nor is it a sequel. It is an ensemble piece that I’m writing in the polyphony style inspired by the works of Jennifer Egan, Robert Altman, etc. I’m also working on finishing up a 100-word piece of flash fiction for MuseItUp. And lastly, I’m writing a short story that I’m hoping to enter into a contest in a few months.
AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
Scott Caseley: Do not be discouraged if you send out queries to agents and/or publishers and you receive a lot of rejection letters, personal or impersonal, chances are you’ll get some or many. It happens to all of us. Being a part of this writing world, and becoming published requires patience, confidence, and perseverance. With the market the way that it is currently, it’s very niche-based, so send your stuff to mainstream presses and agents, but also find those that will cater to your book specifically.
AW: How to you market your book?
Scott Caseley: I have taken part in many different blog stops courtesy of my fellow MuseItUp authors and a Virtual Tour with the World Of Ink (WOI) where I have participated in interviews like this one, or written short stories in character, or satirical pieces to show how certain elements like how writing in the perspective of Sean McIntyre came to be. Also through WOI, I was a guest on an internet radio show, and I also co-hosted along with another author a semi-annual book club show with acclaimed radio host Jordan Rich on WBZ in Boston.
AW: Do you have a Facebook author page or Twitter that we can give out to our readers so they can follow you?
Scott Caseley: Yes, I sure do, and it would be wonderful to have your readers follow me. My Twitter page is @scottrcaseley, and my author page on Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/ScottRCaseleyWriter.