Q&A With S.L. Shelton: Influence by Creativity

S.L. Shelton, AuthorQ. In one sentence, who is S.L. Shelton as a writer?
A. S.L. Shelton is a soldier, wrapped in a tech, inside a writer; there is no fiction, only exaggerations.

Q. You are a prolific writer and active blogger. How do you schedule time for both?
A. It’s difficult when both need to be done. But for the most part I only blog between writing on the novels. Blogging is a good way to network and to satisfy my need to write when I‘m not pounding out a first draft or crawling through the carnage of a developmental rewrite.

Q. At what point did you think, “Enough of being a techie I think I’ll go for a more risky way to earn a living and become a writer?”
A. I sold my tech company a few years ago. My intent was to farm and build heirloom furniture going into my early retirement. But an unfortunate incident with a Frisbee and weak ankles left me sitting in the house for an extended period of time. I have always been a writer, but the freedom of unlimited time and enslavement to a damaged foot conspired to give me this opportunity. I’m grateful for it every day.

Q. In what ways has writing satisfied or fulfilled you as a person?
A. Well if it weren’t for writing, all these voices in my head might start getting violent… I’d rather not have to deal with that in the pharmaceutical realm. Honestly though, creativity and influence go hand in hand. It’s an odd combination to simultaneously be introverted enough to create universes in your mind, but want to move the minds of the masses. There are few other mediums that do that as well as writing and it satisfies both those desires very well if one is attentive and reflective at the same time.

Q. You’ve had a variety of experience. How has that shaped the development of the protagonist in your novels?Waking Wolfe
A. I have done a lot of different things in my life and my bio only touches on a few of them. I owe that to my short attention span. Having such varied experiences allows me to tap into firsthand knowledge in a lot of areas of expertise. I keep those traits separated into various characters throughout all my stories, but I imbue Scott Wolfe with many of the imperfections that sort of scattered existence brings about.

Q. In your bio you say you are at odds with a need to kick the legs out from under those who abuse their power (political, economic or super). Talk about what that means in the context of story structure.
A. Wanting to change the world…ah. Wouldn’t that be nice. Fiction readers wish to be entertained first and foremost. That creates a dilemma for the fiction author; no one wants to be preached at, especially when trying to enjoy a story. I lean towards placing my message in a broad context, encompassing the story as a whole and then use it as the framework for the fiction. That way, you never have to go back and apologize for being too political, judgmental or coercive (except for food—people definitely need to eat better. JK)

Q. How does your protagonist in the Scott Wolfe series mirror your own life?
A. The series doesn’t really mirror my life except in eclectic bits and pieces. I spent a lot of time in the military and a lot of time in the tech industry, so certain funny or impactful anecdotes will migrate into the pages from my life, but for the most part, the Scott Wolfe Universe is all about me writing a story I’d like to read (or see as a movie).

Q. In what ways have you been changed by writing about this character, or have you?
A. I’m more aware of my own duality now than I was—or perhaps, going into such depth with my characters has made that duality more pronounced. We all have at least two faces; who we are to ourselves, and who we are to the world. Having an awareness of that helps bring a character to life but it sharpens your understanding of it in yourself.

Q. What do you wish people knew about you as a writer?
A. We read the reviews. Every author does, even the big ones like Brown, King, etc. We read them and take them to heart, even when we shouldn’t. Each one feels like a personal message written to us as an individual but posted for the world to see—and we crave them. Reviews are a sort of fuel to continue writing. The only thing better on the reader side is when someone posts a message to their friends, tagging us as someone worth reading. When that happens, I feel ten feet tall.

Q. The book cover for this series contains a repeat image overlaid or filled with different images and backed with different background color. Talk about how that developed and the ways you were involved in the design.
A. The early covers were just compilation photos. Constructs using pieces of my own photography and bits & pieces of other items. I’ve always pushed to improve the look of the covers, and enjoy doing the design.

Q. As an indie author, what do you think is most important to spend money on, editing or book design?
A. I design my own covers. I do it because I would rather spend my money on editors and proofing. As the series has become more successful, I’ve gone back and added additional rounds of proofing. The goal is to have a perfect product on release day, but when resources are limited and you can only afford two or three proofing passes, it’s nice to be able to go back later and update with more.

Q. Tell us what you are working on now and how people can connect with you online.
A. I’m in mid stroke of releasing Predator’s Game; the 6th novel in the Scott Wolfe Series. There’s only one left in the initial series. Aside from Scott Wolfe, I have six or seven other novels that I’ve been working on, but always set to the back burner when It’s time for a Scott story. As for connecting online. Twitter, Blog and Facebook are the best way to connect. I work hard connecting online and pride myself in being responsive to readers.