I can’t believe we’re nearing the end of October already! Time sure flies when you’re having fun. Speaking of which, earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Scott King about his new book Learn How To Write A Novel By Reading Harry Potter, which he wrote together with Clark Chamberlain.
Before we get into the interview, let me tell you a little more about Scott.
Scott King is an international bestselling author, born in Washington D.C. and raised in Ocean City, Maryland. He received his undergraduate degree in film from Towson University, and his M.F.A. in film from American University.
Until moving to follow his wife’s career, King worked as a college professor teaching photography, digital arts, and writing related classes. He now works full-time as an author.
King’s non-fiction books are a way for him to get back that feeling of teaching a class, while his fiction books are his way of having fun.
Learn How To Write A Novel By Reading Harry Potter
Hi Scott! Being a big Harry Potter fan, I’m so excited about this book! Can you tell us shortly what Learn How To Write A Novel By Reading Harry Potter is about?
The book breaks down as a 101 class in how to write a novel and it uses Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the example for all the lessons.
You co-wrote Learn How to Write a Novel by Reading Harry Potter with Clark Chamberlain. What led the two of you to write this book?
Clark had done a Harry Potter class and approached me about teaming up for additional courses. Courses are not my thing, but it gave me the idea of teaming up for a book, and this book is what we decided to do!
Why did you pick Harry Potter and not another book or series as an example?
Harry Potter is a good crossroad for my taste and Clark’s. Plus it’s HARRY POTTER. It impacted a generation of readers. It helped normalise being a part of fandom. It has influenced so many other books and authors since it was first published. No matter whether a person likes Harry Potter or not, you can’t argue with how successful it has been.
Who is the audience for the book?
In a way it’s layered so that someone who knows nothing about writing could come in and read it and leave with an understanding of what it takes to write a novel. On the other hand, if someone already has multiple books under their belt and knows what they are doing, Learn How to Write a Novel by Reading Harry Potter is a great re-read companion. The book is structured by chapter so you can read a chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone and then read a chapter of Learn How to Write a Novel to see an analysis of that chapter.
You write both fiction and non-fiction books. Do you prefer one over the other?
Fiction is my way of having fun. It’s creating worlds and characters that readers care about. I use it to offer escape, fun, and to touch upon themes that I think are important. In a different time of my life, I was a college professor and doing non-fiction scratches that teaching itch. It’s not working one on one with students, but I still get to feel like I’m helping people create the things they want to create.
You have other non-fiction books about writing. Are they similar in tone and style to Learn How to Write a Novel by Reading Harry Potter?
My usual non-fiction books are a bit more laid back. Tonally they are like as if I and the reader are hanging out in a coffee shop just chatting about publishing and the craft of writing. There are poop jokes and lots of mention of coffee in them. They’re great and were written in my normal speaking voice. Because Learn How To Write A Novel By Reading Harry Potter is a team-up, the tone is a bit more professional. It’s more a mashup of my teaching voice mixed with Clark’s voice.
Best poop joke you told recently?
Why did the person in a ghost costume smell so bad?
—Because he was covered in sheet.
That is a horrible joke.
I know. I sent it out to my email list. They wrote me back so many complaints about how bad it was. That made me very happy.
The 5 Day Novel is your bestselling non-fiction book. Do you really think authors should write a novel in five days?
No. I wrote a novel in five days an experiment to see if I could do it. The 5 Day Novel chronicles that journey. In it, I lay all the cards on the table and the readers get to see first-hand where I failed and where I didn’t. What has really made it connect with readers is that no matter how fast of a writer a person is or isn’t, they can take the work flow and system I used to write a novel in five days and expand that to ten, twenty, or whatever time their daily life allows.
The books in your Writer to Author series are all tied to fiction books that you’ve written. Why link your fiction with your non-fiction?
In a classroom setting where students are creating, one of the best ways to learn is seeing the mistakes and steps other students take to fix those mistakes. That’s not really something that occurs in non-fiction books so when I started writing them, I decided the best way for me to teach was to not hide anything. I’d not only teach a lesson, but apply the lesson to my own work. They would let a reader see first-hand how a lesson could be used and they would get to see me mess up and see how I adapted and fixed things.
Want to know if my non-fiction books are good or useful? You can read one side by side with the fiction book it’s tied to and decide for yourself. Linking the fiction with the non-fiction is the best way I know to be forward and open about the things I teach in my non-fiction books.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
No, seriously, what is the best advice?
Stop reading books about writing (including mine), listening to podcasts, or taking courses and go write. Those things can help, but more than anything else the best way to become a better writer is to actually go write something.
Last but not least, who is your favourite Harry Potter character?
Luna Lovegood. In my head, I always shipped her and Neville ending up together.
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