Monday, 8 February 2016

Author Interview: Jack Scott, Turkey Street and Perking the Pansies


Jack Scott, author and publisher, Springtime Books
This week I'm so thrilled to welcome Jack Scott to Writing...Just Because to share his author journey and a few words of advice. Jack is the author of  Turkey Street - Jack and Liam move to Bodrum, the sequel to the best-selling memoir Perking the Pansies - Jack and Liam move to Turkey.

Here's a little taster of Turkey Street...

Six months into their Turkish affair, Jack and Liam, a gay couple from London, took lodgings in the oldest ward of Bodrum Town. If they wanted to shy away from the curtain-twitchers, they couldn’t have chosen a worse position. Their terrace overlooked Turkey Street like the balcony of Buckingham Palace and the middle-aged infidels stuck out like a couple of drunks at a temperance meeting. Against all the odds, the boys from the Smoke were welcomed into the fold by a feisty mix of eccentric locals and a select group of trailblazing expats, irresistible ladies with racy pasts and plucky presents.

Hop aboard Jack’s rainbow gulet as he navigates the choppy waters of a town on the march and a national resurgence not seen since Suleiman the Magnificent was at the gates of Vienna. Grab your deckchair for a whirlwind tour of love and duty, passion and betrayal, broken hearts and broken bones, dirty politics and the dawn of a new Ottoman era.

Interview with Jack...

Where do you get your inspiration when writing?

I’ve always been a greedy social observer and unrepentant eavesdropper. A move to a foreign field provided the chance to witness the expat species in the wild, an opportunity I hadn’t anticipated but relished. I soon discovered expatriates, like everyone else, came in all forms – the mad, the sad and the glad – but boiled down and in your face. Expat life was village life and your business was everyone’s business.

What’s your favourite genre to read and why?

I tend to be drawn mostly to non-fiction, particularly history. This may be why I was attracted to Turkey. As the true crossroad of civilisations – Hittite, Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman to name only the best known – Anatolia has been won and lost over countless centuries, the evidence of which lies casually underfoot and around every corner. I didn’t expect the rough and tumble of expat life to spoil the view.

How did you become a writer?

I’m an accidental writer. When Liam and I first washed up on Turkey’s shores, we planned to put our feet up and watch the pansies grow. But so many extraordinary things happened around us I had to write them all down, first in a blog. As the months trickled by, the blog took off spectacularly and a book started to form in my mind. It really was that simple. I was lucky. My fellow expatriates handed me a ripping yarn and for that I remain ever-grateful.

Do you have any helpful tips for other authors? Writing, publishing or promoting?

Just write
You have to begin somewhere. The more you write, the better you’ll get.

Be yourself
Think about what will make your writing stand out. How is your message different? What’s distinctive about your angle? Who will your writing appeal to? Are you prepared to reveal the real you?

Think about ‘form’
This is one of the biggest lessons I learned when turning my blog into a book. A story, even a real-life story, needs order, pace, plot, a compelling blend of highs and lows and a sense of purpose.

Think visually
Set the scene and describe your characters and situations colourfully. Help your readers visualise your story. Use dialogue to amplify and underscore the narrative and keep the speech realistic.

Edit, edit, edit and edit again
Be bold and decisive. If something adds nothing to the plot or message, cut it. Employ a professional editor. You won’t be sorry.

Share your writing
Ask for feedback. Then take a deep breath. Take the comments on board. Some of them will be rubbish but some won’t. Try not to take things personally.

Be social
These days, authors are expected to do a lot more to market their books. This means developing a strong online presence. Don’t be shy.

Start a blog
Blogging is a great audition for writing, and the best way to experiment and grow your fan-base.

What are you currently working on?

The book birthing for Turkey Street was much more painful than expected. Eighteen months later than planned, I fretted my comeback would be as welcome as another Spice Girls reunion, but the pain eased as the reviews dropped onto the mat. For now I’ve set my quill aside and focused my energies on Springtime Books, working in partnership with the force of nature who is Jo Parfitt and editor extraordinaire, Jane Dean. Together we publish authors who have something new and different to say about the expat experience. This entirely unforeseen and radical career change is a direct result of my time in Expatland and the success of my first book.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

In 2012, Liam and I ended our Turkish affair and paddled back to Britain on the evening tide. We currently live quietly in Norwich, a surprising city in eastern England. Springtime Books keeps me on my toes and Liam has a part time job in a local village. It all helps to keep us out of the workhouse. I still blog regularly at Perking thePansies. Even now, my random musings seem to strike a chord. For us the good life involves hearty fare, quality time with those who matter, taking in a show and supping in local hostelries where I can quench my thirst for social observation and eavesdropping. And so it goes on!


If you'd like to see what Jack is up to check out his book site visit his blog and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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