Saturday, October 4, 2014

Interview with author, Scott Butcher

Scott Butcher is a rising star among Canadian children’s book writers. However, his writing is versatile, and there are a lot more stories in several genres yet to come from Scott. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to review four of Scott’s middle-grade books and to ask him a few questions.

Scott is represented by the relatively new imprint, Morning Rain Publishing. His first novel, released by them, is AN EAGLE’S HEART. Narrating in a voice reminiscent of the indigenous peoples of the Canadian Arboreal Forest, AN EAGLE’S HEART tells a remarkable tale of how a Merlin Falcon and his fellow raptors save a grove full of song birds in Thunder Bay from a murder of crows. Not only does the reader see the story unfold from the point of view of the humans who observe the birds settling into their backyard, but also from that of the birds themselves. Using authentic descriptions of the behavior of a variety of birds including eagles, hawks, falcons, blue jays, robins, chickadees and crows, Scott weaves a believable tale of betrayal and justice.

Morning Rain Publishing has also released the first three novellas in the six-part FAIRLY STILLWART CHRONICLES, a heart-warming tale of perseverance and adventure about a stubborn pixie in a fairies’ world. The chronicles are set all over the planet, starting in Australia and moving across Canada, before ending up in the old country of Ireland.

In the first chronicle, STILLWART AND THE SOUTHERN FAIRIES, Stillwart overcomes discrimination from her community in Australia, since she is the only pixie among a large group of fairies. In A PIXIE PILGRIMAGE she is compelled by the Northern Pixies of Ireland to transport unhatched fairies from Australia to repopulate and reenergize magic in Ireland. Unfortunately, she and her band of brave fairies and pixies are placed on the wrong flight and end up in Vancouver. With the help of a wayward, orphaned fairy they met at the airport, and two human college students, they drive across Canada to Nova Scotia in THE SCOTTI AND FAIRIES DON’T EXIST. There they are able to save the Nova Scotia fairies and rekindle a pixie kingdom.

The fourth chronicle, TORY BLITHE AND THE ST. JOHN’S PIXIE, is soon to be published, so that’s where I started my interview.
When is the fourth Stillwart Chronicle going to be released?
I don’t know. It’s been accepted by the publisher [Morning Rain Publishing], but they’ve been busy with other books and haven’t given me a time (though I’ve signed a contract). I’ve temporarily put it on Wattpad to culture some readership for the series so it can be seen there for free at the moment. Others of the series are now finished as well.

How did you come up with the idea for the Stillwart Chronicles?
It was from a weekly flash fiction (short story) event. It was supposed to be a story about ‘cinema’, so I invented a tale about a cheeky (somewhat grumpy) little pixie girl who was looking after the ticket booth for an outdoor animal cinema. I liked the character so much that I wrote another short story about her, and then it became a book, and then a series.

How much fun was it to include characters in the third chronicle, SCOTTI AND FAIRIES DON’T EXIST, that closely resemble your own daughters?
I don’t know why I did that, but it was fun. It just sort of happened. I tend to write about things I know, and I know about places I’ve been, and I know about my daughters, so it just seemed right.

How much research did you have to do before writing AN EAGLE’S HEART?
Lots. I’m a scientist when I’m not writing books, I write for that too, but it’s a different type of writing. Anyway, I research all my books pretty heavily. An Eagle’s Heart, was easier in that we lived in the area where I set the book. So there are lots of eagles, harriers, blue jays, and other species there (all the birds in the book). A lot of the research was from first-hand experience, otherwise lots of background reading.

Are you a bird enthusiast?
Yes, I like birds, but the truth is that when we came back to Canada we lived in the centre of Thunder Bay where there is only sea gulls and crows, they kill the other birds. I missed the colourful bird life we had in Australia. When we moved to the outskirts of the city, there were all sorts of new species to discover! It was great. The book evolved from that move.

You’ve written novels for children and adults, which do you prefer?
Both. Though I find it easier to finish children’s books because they’re shorter. They’re more satisfying from that point of view. It’s always nice to have the finished story.

How did you become involved with the publishing imprint, Morning Rain Publishers? 
An Eagle’s Heart has a strong outdoor North American feel to it. I had it on a writer’s site for some time. I polished it up there with the help of many people (including Laura). Then when I thought it was ready I withdrew it from the site with the idea of pedaling it to some local Canadian publishers. As it happened some of the Canadian ladies from that same site were starting a little Canadian publishing house, and asked if they could publish the book. I said, yep, that sounds good to me.

What is the best and worst thing about your relationship with them?
Editing is the worst (it has to be done). They found so many things. I thought I’d polished it pretty well, but, nope it needed more. The best thing has been keeping a fun relationship going with a lot of the authors I knew from that old author site. The continued friendships (and new friendships) make it worthwhile.

Tell us a little about Scott Butcher, the author? 
Born in Australia to Canadian parents, I moved back and forth between the two countries (you can see a bit of me in Stillwart) for much of my younger life. I returned to Canada five years ago with my wife and children. I’ve always made up stories for my children, and I’ve wanted to be an author since I was 17. Finally made it, though it took me 35 years. Check that one off the bucket list. Funny thing is it’s addictive, I can’t stop now. I just keep writing.

What can we look forward to reading from you in the next year or so?
The last of the Fairly Stillwart Chronicles are finished now, so hopefully they’ll appear soon. I’ve also written a special chronicle called “The Hidden Chronicle” which is also part of the series (sort of).

I’ve been working on an adult book for some time, which I’ve just changed the title to. It’s now “The Bloodline of the Faery Queen”. There are other projects in the wings, including a sequel to “An Eagle’s Heart” and a spinoff of the Stillwart Chronicles, called “The Magic Sisters”. They may take me a while to write though.

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