Tuesday May 21

CampbellScott Scott Campbell lives in Seattle with his common-law wife, her real-law husband, and two new dogs, after the last three all died within the span of nine months. He has a B.A. in Film Production from New York University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from University of California, Davis. Books available on Amazon.com include the novels Daisy Parker, Decoys, Miss Shellagh's Miniskirt, Identity Crisis, and the short-story collection The Pyscho of Happiness. The Thing About Alice began life as a novel 14 years ago, never got past the first few pages, eventually discovered it was a short story, and has now decided it is a novel again.


Scott Campbell interview with Meg Tuite

I’m dying to hear the inspiration for this amazing story, “The Thing About Alice.” What an inimitable cast of characters. I love this trio and how convoluted it all becomes for poor Phil, who’s trying in vain to figure out fact from fiction.

Apparently my first attempt at this thing was 14 years ago, and I don’t remember what kicked it off then. I was trying to write a novel with more of a plot than I usually have, but it foundered when I reached the point where I actually had to set that plot in motion because I still didn’t have one. In that version we mostly saw Phil and Dan, and Alice was an abstract off-screen character as far as I wrote. But something in the setup brought me back to it and many years later I tried a couple more times. It really caught me once I got the idea that Alice was a chronic liar, who just did it for fun to fuck with people. But again I was trying for a novel without having a plot, and what finally emerged was this story. Then the story wouldn’t leave me alone, and I gradually came up with enough ideas to try for the novel again. I'm 90 pages in now and so far it’s going well.

That’s really exciting to hear. It’s going to be one hell of a novel! No question. Have you written any screenplays? This was so visual and visceral that I could see it up on the screen.

I have written three screenplays in my time, all from my early twenties when I wanted to be a film-maker: Knibbetry Forever, I Kill Monsters, and Dracula Sings. (I was really into fantasy back then.) Actually four screenplays, if you count Dracula Goes to College, a feature we made ourselves on Super-8 back when film existed. Dracula Sings actually kicked off a literary path I am still following today, about the inhabitants of the small town of Carlton, Ohio. I followed the lead character of that screenplay, Adrienne Simpson, through four novels (two mainstream comedies, two thrillers, no fantasy after Dracula), and after that started following other residents of Carlton in my novels Daisy Parker and Father of Carlton. I do hold a degree in film production from New York University, although I haven’t done much with it aside from help my unofficial wife Terisa make Family, the Web Series (which is actually chronicled in an article Connotation Press published a couple years ago about our brush with fame when polyamory mainstreamed).

You really had that Irish dialect down. Have you lived in Ireland or with someone from Ireland?

Nope. Just got a thing for redheads who talk like that, I guess. I wrote a story once about skydiving and had people asking me afterwards about what it’s like to go skydiving, but I’ve never been skydiving. I made the whole thing up. Something in the way I wrote it was convincing.

What genres have you worked in and which would you consider your favorite, if you have one?

Aside from mainstream novels mostly about sex, I have written two or three comic thrillers and a couple of science-fiction novels, although the second “science-fiction” was really mostly another novel about sex. What I like about thrillers is you can basically write anything you want as long as you’ve got a thriller element moving things along. It can be the most character-driven genre, and character is really what I’m about. I make up people I like and see where the hell they go. This makes it very hard for me to kill anybody.

Who are you reading right now?

This very minute, something called The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Not sure I like it. Authors I follow these days, probably Jonathan Lethem at the top of the list. Philip Roth appears to have retired. E.L. Doctorow. And I’m reading George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice, but as of books four and five he seriously needs an editor. He’s gotten too successful for anyone to dare touch his prose, which is to the detriment of the prose.

Who would you say were your biggest inspirations as a writer?

Philip Roth and my high-school English teacher, whose name I am ashamed to admit I can’t remember. Began with an S. She was a woman.

Has writing been a passion of yours for a long time? How long have you been sending out work for publication?

I decided in second grade to be the world’s greatest writer, and have been writing ever since. Mostly drew comic books in grade school. I’ve scaled back my ambitions about world’s greatest over the years, but I’ve never wanted to do anything but write (except when I wanted to be Steven Spielberg as well). I’ve been sending out work for publication since I was a teenager. Got close with a couple novels in the past, but mostly what I’ve published is what I’ve put out myself.

Second grade? So you were a late bloomer to the craft. Outstanding what you’ve accomplished in so short of a time!

Who is your favorite filmmaker? And do you utilize some of that in your writing?

Funny, since I have a degree in film production, but I don’t really think in filmic terms when I’m writing. I see stuff in my head and describe what I see, but I don’t really see it as a movie. Favorite filmmaker these days is hard to say. It used to be Brian de Palma. I like pretty much everything Paul Thomas Anderson does.

Give me a quote that speaks to you.

“Whatever you say, T.J.” It’s from a silly movie about cowboys and dinosaurs called Valley of Gwangi, and explaining why it speaks to me would take too much backstory to be worth it to anyone. It’s kind of a variation on “be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” But it has to do with what you demand of other people, and knowing who is and who isn’t your friend.

I love that!

Are you a traveler? What do you do to get a way from it all? Sports?

I would travel a hell of a lot if I had some money to travel on. Mostly I don’t get away from it all. Was heavily into racketball for a while but I couldn’t find reliable partners. Would love to play baseball but you need to get a lot of people to agree on that and all show up in the same place at the same time. Probably my favorite sport anyway.

Tell us one strange thing that most people don’t know about Scott Campbell.

I’m stumped. Most people don’t know anything about Scott Campbell at all, so I suppose I could say “His favorite meal is a stir-fry of onions, hams, fried eggs, and kimchee,” which might qualify as strange and most people don’t know it. But seriously, you should all try it, it’s delicious. Kimchee makes everything better.

I’m going to look for some kimchee. Thank you so much, Scott, for sending this exceptional story/excerpt to Connotation Press. You rock it!

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