When Scott Semegran isn't drawing cartoons, brewing beer, cooking, whistling or bending metal, he enjoys writing books. Evidently readers also enjoy reading them - Semegran is a Kindle bestselling author. As our Author of the Day, Semegran tells us about his latest book, Sammie & Budgie, talks about his characters and explains why humor is excellent subterfuge for finding the truth.
Please give us a short introduction to what Sammie & Budgie is about.
Sammie & Budgie is the third book in the Simon Adventures series. The first book, The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood, delves into Simon's obsession with becoming a famous writer. The second, The Spectacular Simon Burchwood, dives into the aftermath of a failed writing career and divorce. Sammie & Budgie explores Simon's relationship with his children, particularly Sammie, who he discovers can see the future. I wanted to examine a realistic response to a single parent's discovery of this type of paranormal dilemma. When Sammie foretells that his grandfather is in some kind of trouble, it propels the family on a road trip to visit the prickly patriarch.
You are also a cartoonist - how much different was writing a book from creating comic strips?
Well, the inspiration comes from the same place but the mechanics and structure are obviously very different. The comic strips I created had weekly deadlines for newspapers and each one usually had a humorous premise to workaround or conclude with. Then there was the cartooning part. Writing a novel takes months and months of rough drafts and edits and rewrites and more edits. But Sammie & Budgie is an illustrated novel, so I was able to use both of my creative tool boxes to create this book. I illustrated the chapter title pages and gave my daughter and co-illustrator, Mia Ryan Semegran, art direction for Sammie's cartoons.
Which character in this book did you find the most challenging to create?
Sammie was, by far, the most challenging to execute. I wanted him to be cute and funny but also inquisitive and melancholy. His power to see the future overwhelms him and he has so many questions. He's embarrassed and ashamed by it, too.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I'm an expert whistler. I've been told on occasion that I'm an excellent cook and beer brewer. I can also bend metal with my mind and run really fast, if chased by a pack of wolves, but don't tell anybody else. That truly is my secret skill.
Tell us more about Simon - what makes him tick?
Well, there are a lot of things that make him tick, which I explore in the three novels. In the first novel, it's fame. In the second novel, it's failure. In Sammie & Budgie, it's his desire to be a good parent. In the first two novels, Simon is pretty acerbic as he narrates. We get to hear his innermost thoughts about the people he encounters (a lot of which is very judgmental) and the things he wants out of life. He talks about his children but we don't actually meet them in the first two books. In Sammie & Budgie, we finally get to meet them and see his relationship with them, which is more nurturing and kind than his relationship with the adults in his life.
Father-son relationships play an important role in this book. Why?
I wanted to portray a father-son relationship that was far removed from the typical tropes and clichés of past generations, the ones where fathers are absent or tyrants or emotionally withdrawn or abusive or unlovable or wise yet removed. I wanted to portray a father-son relationship as I know it, as my generation of fathers know it to be. Our generation of fathers are stay-at-home dads. We are volunteers at our children's schools. We change diapers. We want to be present in our children's lives. We want to express love to our children. It was important for me to show that and acknowledge that in this story. And it was also important in fleshing out Simon Burchwood as a character. I wanted to make this seemingly unlikeable character of the first two books a likeable, good dad in the third book. I wanted to show that there was more to this character than his desire to be a famous writer or the bitterness he feels after his career and marriage tanks.
Sammie & Budgie also contains a healthy dose of humor. Why did you take this approach?
Because I LOVE humor in fiction. And I truly feel that humor is excellent subterfuge for finding the truth. Look at George Carlin or Richard Pryor or Joan Rivers. Look at Charles Schulz or Bill Watterson or Lynda Berry. Look at Kurt Vonnegut or Tom Robbins or Nora Ephron. I mean, these are comedians and satirists and absurdists but mostly, they are truth-seekers. I'm looking for the truth, too, through humor. Or, at least I'm trying to.
Readers report that the book kept them up reading into the wee hours of the night. How did you pull this off?
I lace all of my stories with methamphetamine. I'm joking, I'M JOKING! This is a hat trick that I hope to pull off with my fiction but never seem to know if I accomplish it. I mean, I don't actually watch my readers stay up into the wee hours reading my books. That would be kind of creepy and probably illegal.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? Favorite writing spot, best time of the day to write?
My favorite writing spot is one where there is nobody else around and my favorite time of day to write is usually in the morning or early afternoon. I don't know if I have any interesting writing habits. Hmmm. Let me think about this. Well, in recent years, I've learned to love using a standing desk, so most of the time, I write / type standing up. Because of this, I've been known to dance a little while I write because I also enjoy listening to music while I write. Weird but true.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I'm wrapping up the promotion of my latest two books, Sammie & Budgie and BOYS, so I can focus on a new novel that I will begin writing in early 2018. I've been mulling over this new story in my mind for a few months and jotting notes down on my trusty legal pad. Very high tech, huh? It works for me.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My Website and Social Media Sites