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Creative Spotlight on Author Scott Overton
Check out some extra questions and fun facts about this author below that aren't mentioned in the live chat.
Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
I was a career radio host, mostly a morning show host, on private radio for more than 30 years. But I've always intended to be a writer and my first novel (Dead Air, a mystery thriller set in the radio industry) was published in 2012 after a good number of short story publications. I've been a science fiction fan all my life, so that's what I write with a few exceptions. And natural settings are also essential to my well-being, so my wife and I live on a private island in a Northern Ontario lake (not quite wilderness, but not far from it).
Can you tell us about your most recent release? Album? Song? Art piece? Etc.?
My most recent novel is a cautionary science fiction thriller called Augment Nation set about 20 years from now when computerized brain augments have taken over from smartphones as the must-have consumer tech item. The main character, Damon Leiter, has had an augment implanted when he was 14 to address a brain disorder, so once he's an adult he's uniquely equipped to help people push back when mega-corporations and governments begin to infiltrate the augments and push their own agendas. Direct brain-to-internet connections? What could go wrong?
What inspires you?
The world is full of interesting concepts and important issues to explore, and my way to do that is through storytelling. I think science fiction is the perfect medium to bring all sides of a question to light, so I find inspiration in everything from big headlines to small details of life.
What is your creative work routine like? Do you balance it with another job?
I also work as a freelance voice talent, most often as a narrator of audiobooks, but writing and the assorted tasks that go with it are my main focus. I can't say that I write every day, but I work on some aspects of my writing career every day. My best writing times are in the morning and evening. Of course, a writer is almost always thinking about writing, even if it looks like we're napping!
Do you plan out your creations? What is your creative process like? I am definitely a planner. It's not unusual for me to work on the outlining and character development etc. for two or three months before I ever start writing a novel. Once I do start the actual writing, I review and tweak the previous day's work before I start writing something new, so even my first full draft is fairly polished. After a few more rounds of revisions, I set the manuscript aside for months while I write the next one. Then, coming back to the first ms. with fresh eyes, I make more revisions, submit it to beta readers, revise yet again, and finally work with a hired editor before I consider it ready for publication. A long and arduous process!
Do you have a self-care routine or want to have one? What do you do or wish that you did to take care of your mental health?
My lifestyle includes lots of fresh air and natural surroundings, plus I make sure to get regular exercise. The writing/publishing process can easily suck up all your time and mental energy, and I have a hard time telling myself it's OK to just slack off and relax once in a while. But I'm working on that.
What is your favorite creation thus far? I can't say I have a favorite, but I do consider my latest, Augment Nation, to potentially be my most important work. Brain-computer interfaces are becoming more advanced every day and, as with artificial intelligence, they're a technology that demands we make some very important decisions now before it's too late.
Do you have a character that is your favorite over others you've written into creation?
My SF novel Naïda features a man who ends up having an alien symbiote living inside him-- Naïda is the name he gives her (she self-identifies as a female). She's basically an adolescent of her species and, like most adolescents, she means well but makes plenty of mistakes. Those and other qualities endeared her so much to me that I had to name the novel after her.
Are there any recurring themes in your work? I always start with a strong theme and an interesting concept and build the story around those. But the themes that recur most often in my work are the nature of consciousness, and the question of what it really means to be human.
What does success look like to you considering your creative passion?
I'd love to get a big break and attract a huge audience (and real money!) But each and every reader who comes to me and tells me how much they've loved one of my stories--how much it touched them, or how they couldn't put it down--feels like success to me. That's the "high" I crave.
What has been one of the biggest lessons you've learned since starting this journey? I once had a New York literary agent who was a relative novice but with an incredibly well-respected and connected agency, yet in more than three years he was unable to attract a publishing deal for me. That taught me that the traditional publishing path can't be relied on (I think the industry is broken), and I would have to self-publish. Of course, I had no idea how much work that is!
What advice would you share with new or aspiring authors/singers/artists/etc?
It's not original, but basically, my advice is to write if you have to write. If it's just a whim, or you think it will be easy, don't do it. But if you just can't imagine yourself not writing, go for it! Because if you're really driven to do it, you will succeed, in whatever form success looks like to you.
Where do you get your ideas for world-building?
I try to look at current technologies and trends and extend them forward to see all their potential permutations. But it's really impossible to see very far ahead with any accuracy (who could have predicted our present society when smartphones first came out?) So I rarely write stories very far in the future unless I also include some big (ie. catastrophic) setback to society that resets progress in some sense.
What genre do you prefer to read?
I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, naturally, but I also read a lot of thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, and literary fiction. A good story is a good story, no matter what genre.
What hobbies do you have?
I've been a scuba diver and had collector cars, but I don't have much opportunity to indulge in either these days for various reasons. Music is a big love, too, though mainly as a listener.
Where can our viewers/readers/listeners find you and your work?
My website www.scottoverton.ca is the best place to start because it has all the information and samples of my work as well as links to social media and everything else I do.
This is your brain on silicon.
The mid-21st Century:
Computerized brain augments are the newest “must-have” consumer product. They make smartphones look like a rock and a chisel.
But there is a dark side.
Governments dream of compliant sheep.
Corporations see a marketing El Dorado.
When consumerism rages unchecked, the human race needs a leader to save us from ourselves.
Damon Leiter has had a brain-computer interface since he was 14. It gives him extraordinary abilities; he may be the next step in human evolution.
But Damon can’t be sure he isn’t playing into the hands of the rich and powerful.
They might even be right:
Maybe the real threat to humanity is Damon himself.