Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Author Spotlight: S.L. Shelton

S.L. Shelton is a passionate, fact spouting former techie and soldier who is constantly at odds with his need to kick the legs out from under those who abuse their power (Political, Economic or Super). He lives on a tiny little farm on the banks of a tiny little river in the northwestern part of Virginia, where his semi-secret identity is somewhat protected on three sides. Despite deep misgivings about writing on subjects close to his own life, he has penned a series of books about a similarly broken, similarly gifted young man who similarly doesn't have a clue when to stop and re-evaluate life decisions.

Before building his career in the computer field for nearly two decades as a developer, designer, trainer, and a CEO, he had the honor of serving in the US Armed Forces in several roles, most involving explosives of some sort. After selling his successful micro empire in 2011, Shelton retired to his study which he hasn't left since. On most days he writes, but when left alone and to his own devices, breaks his troll like existence long enough to sneak into the sunlight and fire a weapon or two, snap a few pictures or pick some vegetables from his wife's prized organic garden beds.

Though his climbing days are behind him due to injuries (several to the head), he was an avid rock climber, having climbed for decades since his teen years. His three children are grown and living very adventurous lives of their own.

Predator's Game, the sixth book in S.L. Shelton's action thriller Scott Wolfe Series will be released on November 17th on Amazon. Pre-order it here.

Author Interview

1. Predator’s Game is the sixth book in your Scott Wolfe Series. Can you give us an overview of the story so far?

Scott Wolfe starts the series as a seemingly normal twenty-something. There are hints he is different, but those hints don't start forming a cohesive image until midway through the series. Then it becomes clear he's very different. His personality is one that won't let things go, even if those things are a danger to him. That allows the CIA to pull him in, entangling him in a conspiracy he helps uncover. Each novel builds on the last, showing more of the real Scott and hinting at his potential. In the 4th novel, there is a major setback for Scott that begins a slow degrading of his talents, leaving him more and more with only what he has learned through the CIA. It's a tense situation and frankly, it has been hard to write. I've found my own mood in the same downward spiral, as if I'm linked to Scott emotionally. Wow.

2. Without giving anything away, what can your readers expect from Predator’s Game?

Scott comes away from his last trauma feeling more confident and cocky than he should. He doesn't know what's waiting for him. Nothing he has learned and none of his training have prepared him for what will happen. Answers to old mysteries will clarify his past to a larger degree and he will have to face, unprepared, something that could only be described as a sociopathic force of nature.

3. What does your writing process look like? Do you have any strange writing habits?

I write at odd times, sometimes running to my study at 2 a.m. to pound out a scene. When the draft is cooking, there is nothing else in the world for me. I ignore everything including food and sleep. I usually get a good ways into a story before I look up and start picking it apart. At that point, I will walk away, pacing, sometimes for days, until I can get my head around the story flow. When it finally pops, it doesn't matter what time it is, day or night, I will sit back down and pound it out.
4. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

I've thought a lot about this and only have a few answers. I haven't a clue who would play Scott. He's the hardest.
Kathrin: Katheryn Winnick, or Evan Rachel Wood for their pure fighting/acting skill combo. I don't know if Kelley Alice Jakle (Pitch Perfect) can fight, but if she can, she would make a great Kathrin.
John Temple: Michael Biehn (Terminator, Navy SEALs, Aliens) or Don Johnson
Nick Horiatis: Whoever plays Nick is going to have to know how to fight. But comedian, actor (and friend) Kirk Fox looks the way I imagine Nick to look. I think if Scott is made into a movie, we're going to have to get Kirk into some Krav Maga classes and drop him in that role.
Storc: Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, The Social Network, 30 minutes or less)
Heinrich Braun: Gary Oldman (Every movie ever made)
Mark Gaines: Chris Hemsworth (Thor)

5. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I do read my reviews. All authors do even the ones who don't, do. I don't respond to them, good or bad and I think that's the hardest part of reading them. The best thing an author can do is to read objective reviews as a painting rather than individual comments. If one or two people really rake you over the coals, you may just be reading a review from a real asshole. If 90% of your reviews say the same thing, or allude to a problem, then you might want to consider making alterations to the story. I have. If the review is just nasty for the sake of being nasty (sometimes happens when readers disagree with your character's politics or social stances), you might consider those reviewers names when you are thinking of names for disposable bad guys. :)

6. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write? What is your favorite kind of scene to write?

I like the belligerent back and forth between a pair of people, male or female. It's also the hardest to write for me because I have to embody two personalities simultaneously. The conversations often get deep and show hidden personality traits of the participants, so keeping that separated while having them go at it is hard. I dislike writing love scenes. Not because I'm not good at it, but because my name is on these books and my family reads them leaving me self-conscious as I write. Don't be surprised if in a decade or so, when I no longer have to worry about my image as a new writer, someone discovers I've penned a series of erotica as well...not saying I have, though. Only that I could.

7. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

My early go-to authors are my biggest inspirations. Clancy, Cussler, Frank Herbert, Ann McCaffery, Arthur C. Clark. Bigger than life, and written to draw you in, these are my "comfort" authors and the ones I will reread over and over again. I aim to be as prolific as Stephen King but would be happy with any number of books I write as long as my readers are happy as well. 

8. What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

Self-promotion.  Uhg. That sucks big sweaty... eh hem. Nothing makes a bestselling author feel like a fraud faster than having to go on social media and convince everyone he/she is a bestseller because they are so super fantastic great. I know there's better ways around this, but honestly, I'd rather be writing than trying to figure out the magic formula of social media. Sadly, when you stop the self-promotion, the sales suffer, and let's be honest; if you can't support yourself writing, you can't be sitting around all day need to get a real job. So I do both and try to navigate that narrow way between ego and artist.
9. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Keep writing. Write as often as you can and if your story isn't giving you chills as you reread it to yourself, slice that sucker up and write some more. You will get the thrill as your reader does. Too many writers think they are too close to the work to feel anything when they reread it...not true. If you aren't feeling it, neither will your reader. Punch that sucker up....feel it.

10. Your main character, Scott Wolfe, appears to be a pretty normal guy at first, but he does some extraordinary, heroic things throughout this series. If you were a superhero, what would your name be? What super power might you possess?

My Super Hero Name: uhhh. hmmmmm. The Orator. My Super Power: To sway the masses with only my voice. I doubt I'd have a costume. If I had this power, I'd probably dress in a suit and tie, and run for office. :)

11.   What are you working on now? Can we expect to see Scott return for a seventh book?

I'm working on Splinter Self; the 7th and final book in the Scott Wolfe Series. And yes, you can expect to see Scott in it (it's still called the Scott Wolfe Series). As for what comes next, it would be impossible to describe without giving away a massive number of spoilers. I suspect readers will see more of at least some of the cast from Scott Wolfe, though I couldn't say who without also giving away spoilers.

To learn more about S.L. Shelton and the Scott Wolfe Series, visit his author page on Amazon and his website. You can also connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.