You write fantasy based on Biblical themes? What drew you to writing in this style?
I’ve attended church and participated in charitable events through church for a long time, and so having Biblical themes just seemed to come naturally for me. And I also am a huge lover of the Fantasy genre. When I first sat down to write and mill over concepts the two things meshed for me, and I realized I had something great when I thought up the premise for The Ark of Humanity.
“God flooded the earth to annihilate humanity's sins. What if that sinful race didn't die when flood waters covered them but instead adapted to breathe water?”
What type of feedback do you get from readers about taking a Bible story into a new context?
I’ve had positive feedback from both Christians and non-Christians alike. People say that they really enjoy the story and the depth of the good v.s. evil concepts in both of my Fantasy books. My Christian readers love the themes and references. And here is a quote from one of my non-Christian readers below to show how he enjoyed it.
“Scott has a beautiful writing style and the world which his characters exists is both vivid and believable. He manages to combine an engaging story line with a new take on moral stance. The link to Christianity is interesting but not dominant that a non-Christian like me can enjoy it. If you enjoy reading books that are away from the norm, then I would highly recommend Scott's Ark of Humanity.” – James Hardy, on Amazon.com
Are there any unwritten rules for writing fantasy? How do you go about creating a fantasy world?
I give a lot of thought and planning to my books before I write them because they need to be both believable and fantastical at the same time. The author needs to create and build concepts that the reader believes could actually exist. And as for rules… That’s one thing I love about fantasy, there are no rules. The sky is the limit. As long as you ground it in believability and realistic human relations, you can do pretty much anything.
How long did it take to write your first book? How many re-writes do you think you did?
Two and a half years for The Ark of Humanity. I edited and re-edited the work again and again to get it just right. I also topped the charts of Authonomy, an author website, and put some valuable advice from HarperCollins to good use.
Did you go the normal route of seeking out a traditional publisher?
I did at first, sending out something like 15 to 20 submissions, and then I took a look around that realized I would rather self-publish and do this thing my way, getting higher royalties and putting my Public Relations degree to good use.
I’ve started up a self-published author group called BreakwaterHarbor Books with a young lady from London and am having a blast watching my sales and the group grow. We currently have an author named Mike Lee as a member who writes Sci-Fi and has been in Amazon’s top 100 for Kindle Sci-Fi for three months now. May we all have that kind of success in the future :) .
Are you active with any writer’s critique groups? If so, how have they helped you?
I’m an Authonomy member, and the authors I’ve met there have been pertinent in helping me to become the level of author I am today. My gratitude to my fellow authors on Authonomy for their critiques and assistance is vast.
What is the best guidance an editor has ever given you?
I was once given some great advice, Edit it thoroughly three times yourself and find three other, writing minded individuals, to help with edits as well. I tend to trade off services for editing help and there is an author and gentleman named Ivan Amberlake who has helped with editing all of my books and was the main editor for three of those. He’s recently released an urban fantasy book titled The Beholder and it is a truly amazing work.
What type of publicity do you do to promote your book?
Breakwater Harbor Books has been a great way to promote for me, along with word of mouth, Goodreads and Free Giveaways. Learning and selling has been an extremely fun ride.
What has surprised you the most about getting published that could have improved your writing sooner?
Confidence in my writing. I think going at writing and thinking you can’t do what the well know authors do just hinders you. When you have faith in yourself, that’s when your true strengths and abilities are able to shine.
What advice would you give someone who thinks they have a great novel in their brain just waiting to be told?
Write it. Begin it today and write one single-spaced page a day. You’ll be astonished at how fast your work is completed and how many people want to read it. Start today. It will be worth so much to you once it’s completed.
Below are links to Scott J. Toney's books on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com.